The line up for this year's Gathering includes Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
A mother who spent nearly 30 years fighting for justice after her 18-year-old son was killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster will speak at Scotland’s Gathering about how she managed to keep going in the face of overwhelming resistance from some of Britain’s biggest institutions.
Margaret Aspinall, the chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Supporters Group, is coming to the Glasgow third-sector conference in February to highlight the importance of campaigning.
Last year, she finally saw her son James and the 95 other football fans who died in the incident exonerated for responsibility for their own deaths. Twenty-three years after the initial 1993 inquest in the Hillsborough disaster blamed drunk and misbehaving supporters, a second inquest instead laid the blame firmly with South Yorkshire Police and Ambulance Service.
Speaking after the verdict, Aspinall, who went on to win the 2016 Women of Achievement Award, said: “Since 1989, it’s been hard for all of the families. It’s been a hell of a long journey, one hell of a fight. We’ve had inquiries, judicial reviews, private prosecutions, you name it. We’ve tried every legal avenue in this country to get to the truth and it’s not been easy. At times, you want to give up. I’ve never missed a family meeting, I’ve never missed a vigil.”
Aspinall is speaking at Never give up – how tenacious campaigners can move mountains, which is hosted by campaigning body the Sheila McKechnie Foundation at 4pm on Wednesday 22 February.
She is following Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who will open the two-day celebration of Scotland’s third sector, with a breakfast meeting at 8am on Wednesday.
The annual Gathering is held at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow and includes a range of events and training sessions linked to running a voluntary organisation – from applying for funding, recruiting board members and improving communications to digital developments and the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s third sector.
Mike Russell, the Scottish minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, will speak at Thursday morning’s breakfast meeting on Scotland’s place in Europe.
Throughout the two days, an exhibition will see around 90 organisations promote their services and activities to the sector. These include a major exhibition from Scotland’s Funders Forum, where a range of funders will be on hand to talk to organisations about their ambitions.
John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), which runs the Gathering said: “SCVO is excited to be hosting the Gathering in Glasgow again this year. Scotland has one of the most vibrant and inspiring third sectors in the world and the Gathering provides a wonderful opportunity to get together to learn from each other and highlight the strength of the sector.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall and hope campaigners across the sector can learn from her experience.
“First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be opening the event this year and we look forward to hearing how the Scottish Government sees the UK’s exit from Europe impacting on the third sector.”
TFN will be reporting live throughout the two days, including carrying out a series of live interviews within the exhibition hall.
The Gathering is expected to attract around 3,000 people from across the third sector and its stakeholders including local and national politicians. Events are free to attend but delegates are advised to book onto popular events at www.thegathering.scot