The role of spaces in community wellbeing

Join us in Manchester with our hosts Co-op to discuss the crucial role that spaces play in the wellbeing of local communities:

  • Learn why community spaces are under threat and how the Co-op are working with Locality, the Plunkett Foundation and others to revitalise them
  • Discuss approaches to impactful use of community spaces and how this can be evaluated
  • Network with peers and build cross-sector links to support the provision and funding of community spaces


  • Ravneet Virdi

    Head of Place and Social Action

    The Office for Civil Society, Department for Culture Media and Sport
  • Rebecca Birkbeck

    Director of Community and Shared Value

    Co-op Group

    Rebecca Birkbeck is Director of Community and Shared Value for Co-op Group where she manages the Co-op’s community activity, under the Co-operate 2022 plan focused on supporting community spaces, skills development and community wellbeing.  This includes management of the local community fund which in the last 3 years has awarded over £56m to over 16,000 local causes supported by Co-op members.  Also the Member Pioneers, who work to connect activities and people in their local communities.  Rebecca’s previous roles include CEO for The Join In Trust, which built on the legacy of London 2012 to encourage more people to volunteer in sport and Deloitte where she was a Strategy Director in the Consulting practice.

  • Paul Gerrard

    Campaigns and Public Affairs Director


    After twenty years in the UK Civil Service, Paul joined the Co-op, the world’s oldest co-operative business, in 2016. As Campaigns and Public Affairs Director, he led their multi-award winning campaigns on modern slavery and loneliness and is leading their current campaigns on community wellbeing which are focussing mental health and wellbeing, reversing the loss of community spaces and on tackling the causes of violence in communities. Paul also leads the Co-op’s engagement on a broad range of public policy issues. Paul is a Fellow of IEMA, the global body of sustainability professionals.



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