Social Care Curry Club

Love curry? Love social care? You are in!

#NCASC13 #socialcarecurry eat-up write up

Last week saw our biggest ever gathering of curriers come together in Harrogate. Eighty people, some who were attending the National Children and Adult Services Conference, and others who were local to the area, some who were completely new to Social Care Curry Club, others had been before and some had hosted, all came along to Jinnah to enjoy a fantastic evening of curry, social care, banter and show stopping naans!
NCASC13_naanSomething that several hosts commented on in feedback from the September eat-ups was the challenge of arranging the bill at the end of the night. There were various approaches, formulas, numerical whizz kids and post it note uses but the thought of settling a bill for eighty was too much for us to cope with. So, keen to learn from our feedback, and despite a fear that people may not carry cash we arranged a banquet to the table for the absolute bargain price of £12 a head, and we asked for payment on arrival.

We’re all about the learning in Social Care Curry Club and it’s fair to say we hadn’t expected it to take almost an hour to collect the money upfront, but there was much banter and enjoyment and there was a great buzz in the bar area so no-one seemed to mind. If we ever have as big a gathering again though we may think of a slightly more high tech solution than a bar tray of cash, but it worked, and we were all paid up and ready to go.
RestaurantWe almost filled the restaurant with social care curriers (nearly everyone in this picture and thirty people in a raised area on the left that you can’t see) and I do feel sorry for anyone else who chose to try and have a quiet curry that night, including these two Germans and a Dutchman accosted by Pete Jackson while taking snaps, although to be fair they seemed happy with the atmosphere:
VisitorsAs for the actual conversation of the night, it appeared to be eclectic and wide ranging as ever. At least one table reported barely mentioning social care all evening, others were deep into the possibilities of mobile technology, meals on wheels, research, policy and practice. The most important thing for us is that everyone had a good time, that those who came knowing no-one were welcomed and that people were left feeling slightly rejuvenated and better about life than when they walked in. The feedback we’ve received so far seems unanimous on those counts.
Screenshot 2013-10-21 10.51.54It was relatively high risk running social care curry at conference (or so we thought), initially we only booked for 40, extending to 50, 60, 70 and eventually stopping at 80. We were also delighted to be joined by some friends and curriers who had other engagements that evening but made it along for a drink afterwards. The brilliant Jinnah staff eventually saw the back at us just before 1am as people headed home or back to their hotel rooms for some much needed shut eye before day two of conference.

Richard Humphries shared a Charles Handy quote on twitter this weekend, relating to change:

Why we cannot wait for governments and large corporations to mend our broken and breaking country

“The hope lies in the unknown, in that second curve, if we can find it. The world is up for reinvention in so many ways. Creativity is born in chaos. What we do, what we belong to, why we do it, when we do it, where we do it – these all may be different and they could be better. Our societies, however, are built on case law. Change comes from small initiatives which work, initiatives which, imitated, become the fashion. We cannot wait for great visions from people, for they are in short supply at the end of history. It is up to us to light our own small fires in the darkness”.

We hope that Social Care Curry Club provides a small fire to warm and lighten the path for people. It is not, and was not ever intended to be more than a creation of chaos. We have stuck closely to our one rule of ‘no sales’ and a simple test of eligibility ‘love social care, love curry’, really genuinely everyone is welcome. Off the back of what we’ve heard and seen we’re confident that connections are being made, that developments are happening, and we’ve heard of at least one business idea and one research collaboration in the offing after the September eat-up. We are delighted that curry can play a small part in supporting social care in what is challenging times for anyone associated with it and we thank you all for making it happen.

Next year’s #NCASC14 #socialcarecurry will take place in Manchester on Wednesday 29 October, venue to be confirmed. If you’d like to connect with other #NCAC13 curriers the twitter list is here (let us know if you were there and aren’t on it), you can also see the storify of this year click here and the full photo set is available here:

Next eat-ups are happening on December 5th and we’re looking for hosts and venues now – blog post to follow, keep your eyes peeled here or on twitter.

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#NCASC13 Eat-up

In two days time the biggest one off gathering of social care curriers take place to coincide with the National Children and Adult Services Conference (variously known up until yesterday as #NCASC #NCASC13 or #NCAS13). Pedants may point out that this in itself isn’t such a hard title for us to gain, as this is only the third time the curry club has met. Originally in July we had nine curriers, September saw over 200 meet together simultaneously across twelve UK and one Canadian eat-up, and this week 70 people will come together at Jinnah in Harrogate.

When Matt and I first decided to give the conference curry a whirl we were, as ever with curry club, winging it a little, experimenting, guessing and going with our gut. Ultimately if you play it safe, if you don’t stick your neck out and risk failure, then you never know if it might work. We decided curry together would be alright if no-one wanted to join us. We originally released 40 tickets and uptake was instant, the booking was extended to 50, then 60 and now 70. We’ve left the waitlist open in case there are any last minute additions or requests – if we get cancellations we’ll redistribute and we’ll contact the venue again on the day and try to accommodate anyone still keen to come. UPDATE 15/10 We extended the booking to 80, last few tickets now available and everyone on waitlist accommodated. Same rules if it fills up again.

So where does this leave us? We’re both excited by the potential and holding our breath a little to see how it works out. We’re sticking to the same rules as before – love curry, love social care is the only requirement to join in, no experts, no hierarchies, no agenda, no presentations and absolutely no sales. We’ve also insisted that all comers are welcome and are delighted that a number of local people who won’t be at conference have booked to come along.

Who will be there in two days time?

Screenshot 2013-10-14 21.52.30

We created a wordle last time we met for no real reason but people seemed to like it, so we’ve done it again. There are three Amandas and three Richards, so if you forget who you’re talking to you could always plump for one of those options! There will be no name badges and no requirements to wear your conference branding either. As with previous eat-ups you come as yourself and leave your organisation, title, airs or graces at the door, as detailed in the ‘about us’ page:

Is there a plan for the evening? There will be no presentations or key note speeches. All you have to do is chat and eat curry. If this works well there is the possibility of a trip to the pub afterwards. If it doesn’t, run like the wind! The curry club is a gathering of folks who wish to discuss and debate, no-one attends as as a representative of an organisation or group, so lift all that baggage off at the door and collect in on the way out when you have a nice full tummy and brain.

As on the last occasion we’re delighted at the range of people, job roles and organisations represented (even if we insist on you leaving those qualifiers at the door)! We have social work students, people using services, carers, providers, community interest companies, independent consultants, those working in sector led improvement, local authority managers, assistant directors and directors, councillors and lead members, academics, researchers and others working in education.  A full range of experience and learning opportunities. Given the national nature of the conference we also have a spread of attendees from across England.

Just out of interest to check the balance of people booked on, we banded curriers into five arbitrary groups: government (inc LA, NHS, Cllrs and CQC), knowledge (inc academics, lecturers, students, researchers and sector led improvement), providers (inc CICs, housing, support services, services and other selling organisations), independent consultants (because we didn’t check what they independently consulted in) and unknown/other (where it wasn’t immediately clear from a quick google/twitter search). This is what the results looked like:

Screenshot 2013-10-14 22.07.52

So we’re quite pleased with that spread and the fact that no one group dominates any other. In addition this is the first time Matt and I have hosted (we didn’t really bother with a host in July) but we’re delighted to have three former hosts from September to guide us: Angela, Eddie and Jemima, along with a number of curriers from September who I’m sure will make new people feel very welcome. Also we again have a spread of tweeters (47) and non-tweeters (23). You can check all the currying NCASCing tweeps out on the twitter list here.

The final thing to mention before Wednesday is that we’ve had lots of feedback that the success of curry has come partly from the lack of hierarchy and partly from the no sales rule. We sincerely hope that will remain the case on Wednesday. We will also be using the #socialcarecurry hastag as before so those not in the room can join in the conversations if they wish.

Logistics: Curry starts at 8.30pm (this is later than previous occasions to account for people in sessions at conference that run into the evening). The venue is Jinnah on Cheltenham Parade, and we will retire to a (yet to be determined) pub venue afterwards and liaise with some curriers who are otherwise engaged and can’t make it for food. The curry is a buffet and it will be £12 per person + your own drinks. We are going to try and collect payment on the door to save negotiations at the end of the night (and then everyone can sort their own drinks), so if you can bring cash for your curry that would be great, but if not don’t worry we’ll sort card payments on the evening.

Cancelling/booking: If you need to cancel on the day please drop a tweet to the curry account, or an email to the curry club account and/or let me or Matt know via twitter. If you don’t have a space and would like one please sign up on the waitlist and leave your mobile/twitter details and we’ll contact you if space becomes available/we’re able to extend the booking.

As soon as NCASC #socialcarecurry is out the way we’ll move on to agreeing locations and hosts for December 5th, so keep your eyes peeled on the blog and twitter account for more info.

The club for those who love curry and social care

After the success of the September eat-ups we were delighted to be asked to write a piece for The Guardian Social Care Network. Published a couple weeks ago it got a brilliant response and no doubt raised awareness and helped NCASC #socialcarecurry again exceed our wildest expectations; we now have 65 people booked on with final five spaces available here. This week I’m in Canada presenting at #KTNConf and there has been a lot of interest in the idea when I’ve mentioned it over coffee. I realised I’d not cross posted the Guardian article here, so what follows is the text from that piece. We’ll return to the blog again after next week is out the way and start organising Dec 5 in earnest.

The club for those who love curry and social care: This ‘edible’ networking initiative – where hierarchies don’t apply – enables people to share ideas and views

Earlier this year a chance conversation on Twitter led to the most unusual of networks forming, the Social Care Curry Club. Variously billed as edible networking, curry induced knowledge exchange, and a good excuse to eat curry and chat social care, the appetite for curry has surpassed all expectations.

The basic premise is very simple. If you love curry and love social care, then you’re in. There are no more requirements than that. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you know about social care, where your experience comes from, whether you consider yourself an expert or a novice. The only requirement is that you can answer those two questions positively and that you follow the one rule: no sales. People come as themselves, they are not representing their organisation, there are no pitches or presentations, no powerpoints, prezzis or podcasts. This is quite simply curry and chat.

Recent budget cuts have had a phenomenally detrimental impact on social care. Services are cut, jobs are lost, morale is low, and yet people are spending their own money and giving up their own time to attend Social Care Curry Club. At a time when large scale conferences are seeing a drop off in attendance, perhaps due to issues of cost, travel restrictions, work overload and relevance, why is curry club proving so popular?

We’ve asked ourselves that question many times and to be honest we don’t know, it’s too early to tell really. Our hunch is that it’s something to do with the simplicity of the idea; the ease of access for people to attend, the September event had 12 eat-ups across the UK and one in Canada; and the lack of hierarchy, feedback stressed this a lot, whether you are someone who uses social care services, a newly qualified social worker, a researcher or a policy maker, or indeed the Director General for Social Care (and yes he did attend), is irrelevant.

The lack of rules or structure is also key. There are no stipulations of how the evening should be run, how bills should be paid, what people should talk about. In fact we have no idea what people talked about, and we are quite happy with that. It is for each individual to set their agenda and manage their own experience, so autonomy is key too.

So far supported by a twitter account, a blog and an eventbrite page, we have built a network of 700 people. What started with one small gathering of nine in Birmingham in July, was followed by over 200 people coming together internationally in September. Our other killer ingredient is that the network organises itself. Local gatherings would not have been possible without the support of our volunteer hosts who take responsibility for booking the curry house, meeting and greeting on the day and ensuring the bill is paid at the end of the night.

The ultimate question has to be whether this will improve social care? Honestly, we don’t know. This was just a throwaway conversation that led to a simple idea, and our growth is very organic. Hopefully coming together over curry will enable people to share experiences, ideas and views about social care. Doubtless that will mean different things to each person, but ultimately we hope it supports people to build their resilience and connectivity, and that in turn will have a positive impact on practice.

George Julian is a freelance knowledge transfer consultant and Matt Bowsher is assistant director at Dudley Metropolitan borough council.

Social Care Curry Club NCASC

This is a short post to let you all know about a special edition, one off Social Care Curry Club happening next month in Harrogate. NCASC, the National Children and Adult Services Conference, is taking place from 16-18 October. Organised by the LGA (Local Government Association), ADASS (Association of Directors of Social Services) and ADCS (Association of Directors of Children’s Services), the conference is billed as being ‘widely recognised as the most important annual event of its kind for councillors, directors, senior officers, policymakers and service managers with responsibilities for children’s services, adult care and health in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors’.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that we thought short and swiftly about whether the format of curry club would translate well to a conference group. What we decided was that it is very important to us that the ethos of Social Care Curry Club remains the same, wherever and whenever it happens – so everyone is welcome, no hierarchies, proper curry, no selling. The only attendance criteria remains: Love curry, love social care, you’re in.

Obviously lots of people will have already made their own arrangements, but for those who haven’t we thought we’d give it a whirl. This also means that if you’re local to Harrogate, meet the criteria and fancy coming along, then please do, you are more than welcome. NCASC provided the opportunity to meet for curry, it is not a requirement that you are attending the conference to attend.IMG_5761

We’ve no idea if having curry alongside a conference will work and we should point out that this is in no way endorsed by, or linked to, NCASC. It is simply us taking the opportunity to get together, at very least Matt and I will have curry with each other, but hopefully many others will join us too. If you’d like to book then you know what to do – visit eventbrite and reserve your space now. Capacity in the restaurant is limited so tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and to make it as accessible as possible we have a £12 per person meal, plus drinks on top. Hope to see you there.

Social Care Curry Club September Round-Up

Wow, what to say, where to start. Thank you all so much for supporting such great Social Care Curry Club eat-ups last week. We are still buzzing at the enthusiasm, energy, commitment and positive vibes that surrounded our eat-ups across the UK and in Canada.

Ruth, the editor of Community Care pulled together a blog post the morning after the night before and we were delighted that Social Care Curry Club made it to their front page. You can read it here. What follows is a largely pictorial record of our first ever consecutive eat-ups. We would very much welcome your input too so please feel free to add a comment or tweet us your highlights, and of course any learning points, we are keen to keep improving.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 23.41.08

First up was Vancouver where Ernie hosted 16 friends and colleagues including

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 23.49.58Vancouver Vancouver’s conversation snapped by host @ejbaatz. Then once our Canadian curriers were tucked up in bed the UK action started to develop:

CardiffCardiff’s calm before the curry club storm snapped by co-host @spinjayGlasgow Mother India’s menu snapped by @BonklesoulGlasgowFashionAccompanied by some fashion advice from co-host @Iandubya snapped by @C_Lightowler Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 23.58.46

SouthamptonPreserving twitter anonymity if required with amazing masks in Southampton! Snapped by host @JaxRaffertyLeeds The lovely Leeds curriers from @lo_jay

CanterburyCanterbury host @AdelinaCoHe with a curry that needed a big reveal! Taken by co-host @UK_JamesBrightonBrighton seemed rather posh with an amuse-bouche between courses, snapped by @IndeplivingLondon London however opted for a buffet, seen here in full swing, captured by host @BPotter38ManchesterManchester included a pair of newly-weds Mel and George snapped by co-host @Carey_Bamber along with a crowd of curriers ManchesterGroup BirminghamThe Birmingham contingent appear to have stuck to liquid refreshment!! Snapped by co-host @EddieC10 and in a later post we’ll share the result!

For now we’ll round this post off with some of the feedback tweets, please feel free to add your thoughts to this post too and don’t forget to pop 5 December into your diary now.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 23.54.15Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 00.29.00Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 00.12.49Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 00.13.52Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 00.32.14

An ode to Social Care Curry Club #socialcarecurry

One of our lovely Manchester hosts, Amanda, has written an ode! We wanted to take the opportunity to share it with you….uploaded from an airport lounge so apologies for any duff formatting!!

Social Care Curry Club has landed Up North,
27 in numbers who’d a thought.

How did this happen, why are we here,
Well again it’s a result of our digital sphere.

Two tweeting enthusiasts, George and Matt
Knew how to nurture social care chat.

And starting from this dynamic two
Their great idea just grew and grew.

Now lovers of curry and social care
Tonight are meeting everywhere.

All major cities in the UK
And as far afield as Vancouver way.

So make your choice then tuck right in
And tween each mouthful wag your chin

To share your views on social care.
Informed discussion and tasty fayre.

Good luck curriers

When Matt and I initially discussed Social Care Curry Club we envisaged a handful of people coming together, to talk about social care and enjoy a curry. It was intended to be a relaxed and casual interaction, no presentations, no sales, no pitches, just people who cared about social care coming together.

We’ll let you into a badly kept secret now, we completely underestimated the appetite and interest that there would be. Times are hard, psychologically and financially, this isn’t exactly the best climate to try and introduce a concept of edible networking. Yet so far our simple idea has seemed to grab people’s attention. The proof will be in what happens over the next 24 hours and whether the appetite remains for future eat-ups, but if the interest so far is anything to go by we seem to be onto a good thing.

In two short months, when lots of people have been taking summer holidays and we’re always warned not to try and arrange anything, this has gone from a throwaway chat on twitter about who we’d most like to have curry with, and grown into the curry monster that it is today! So what does success look like so far? Well:

  • we have had a couple months of conversation about curry with some out of this world currytastic puns and now have 550 followers on twitter
  • we have been encouraged and supported by our network of curry lovers to grow this idea from a gathering that rotated around the UK to one that pops up anywhere globally
  • we have twenty volunteer hosts who will meet and greet on the night, who have liaised with curry houses and punters and carried the responsibility on their shoulders
  • we have had over three thousand hits on this blog so far
  • we have three spin offs that we know of @OTCurry, @PharmacyCurry and @SchGovCurry
  • we have contacted Norman Lamb and Aileen Campbell and are optimistically in negotiations about having a Social Care Curry Club eat-up in Westminter and Holyrood
  • we have twelve UK eat-ups in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Canterbury, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Dorchester, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Southampton, and
  • we have one international eat-up in Vancouver.

We are still getting bookings and expect one or two last minute cancellations, but at this point in time 233 people will come together tomorrow. That’s over two hundred people who love social care and curry and living testament that sometimes simple ideas work. Have a great curry night wherever you are and don’t forget the hashtag #socialcarecurry

September eat-ups names

Meet our volunteer hosts 3

Hosts 3 boardWe’re hoping to introduce all our hosts to you before your eat-ups this week, but several are on holiday or just returning so we might not get to them all. We have introduced twelve already, you can meet them here and here and these are our next four. We’d like to introduce you to (L->R) Ernie, Jackie, James and Ian and you’ve guessed it they’ve all been asked to answer the same three questions:

1) What’s your favourite curry?
2) What are you hoping to get from the night?
3) If you weren’t at your own eat-up where would you most like to be?

Ernie (Vancouver) @ejbaatz

1. Vegetarian curry – lots of eggplant! (Ed:That’s aubergine for us Brits!)

2. A chance to talk with neighbours and introduce people who are interested in community

3. At a hockey game!

Jackie (Southampton) @jaxrafferty

1. Side dish: Bhindi Bhaji, Main dish: Lamb Korai

2. Great conversation and laughs too

3. Chesterfield – I was in the area last week and the countryside is phenomenal

James (Canterbury) @UK_James

1. Vegetable masala, and I have to have onion bhajis and peshwari naan

2. To meet a bunch of interesting people, open up the possibility of new ideas and have some laughs

3. Exploring a part of the world I’ve not been to yet

Ian (Glasgow) @iandubya

1. Lamb Rogan Josh

2. Informal exchange of news, views, informations

3. Probably Birmingham.

Just in case there are any of you out there slightly upset that we’ve not done this post in alphabetical order, or feeling queasy because the images don’t line up properly….we know, we’re sorry, but with regard to the first point – Ian’s photo was beyond cool (look carefully), and the second, we’re pushed for time and have no real design skill except that we’ve borrowed occasionally.

If you wish to help out in the future with writing posts or doing design type bits and pieces drop us a line, all help gratefully received. If you are just upset that it’s not following the system, know that we know and it upsets us too, but needs must!

Meet our volunteer hosts 2

Hosts 2This is the second post like this so you know the score by now, we introduce you to some of our wonderful amazing hosts so you know something about them. Today we’d like to introduce you to (L->R) Adelina, Ann, Guy, Jemima, Lisa and Paul and they’ve all been asked to answer the same three questions:

1) What’s your favourite curry?
2) What are you hoping to get from the night?
3) If you weren’t at your own eat-up where would you most like to be?

Adelina (Canterbury) @AdelinaCoHe
1. Brinjal Bhaji

2. Hoping to meet people who work on social care in Kent, I am sure I will learn a lot!

3. Doing the grape harvest in Mallorca, which is what I will be doing the night after the eat-up.

Ann (Dorchester) @asteroptions
1. Generally……Bombay aloo, chicken tikka, spinach bhaji plenty of popadoms pint of bangla please. I’m there…

2. Meeting new people: Good food good company good fun

3. In Southampton at Social Care Curry Club

Guy (Bristol) @GuyStenson
1. Goan Fish Curry

2. An enjoyable and relaxed evening with great food and good company, a chance to catch up with some old friends and meet some new faces

3. It has to be Leeds for me – although now that there is a Vancouver gathering I’d be very tempted by that one.

Jemima (London) @BPotter38
1. That’s got to be a lovely rich & spicy Dansak topped with some garlic & chillies….Yum, loving lentils!

2. The opportunity to chat about social care with lots of new people who share a love for social care, the majority being tweets I’ve not ever met in person so very excited to be taking part in what looks set to be a fab evening!

3. Now that’s a difficult one! Probably Scotland as I don’t get to visit as often as I did as a wee one (lovely Scottish mum from the highlands)

Lisa (Glasgow) @EllePats
1. I mostly love curries for the sundries. The best thing is a poppadom with spiced onions and lime pickle. Or a peshwari naan. Could you say pakora is a sundry? I love that too. Delicious.

2. What’s not to like? A chance to sit down, put the world to rights and have a good chat with people interested in similar things.

3. If I wasn’t at social care curry club, I’d likely be lying on the couch watching the rain pitter patter on the balcony. I’m loving the change of the seasons. It’s not that Autumn is my favourite – I just like the bits that are the in-betweeny stages – on the cusp of something else.

Paul (Chesterfield) @PaulSheps
1. My favourite curry is without doubt Tarka Dahl.

2. I was hoping to share my thoughts with like minded people people and learn from them what their main concerns are.

3. If I wasn’t at the eat up I would most like to be in Dubai at a very small restaurant called Ravi’s in Satwa where I first discovered Dahl some 30 years ago.

There are only a few hours left to book to attend next Thursday, so run over to eventbrite now if you wish to join us. We’ll try to introduce you to more hosts between now and next Thursday and we’ll also be asking you to share what you hope to get out of the evening, so get your thinking caps on!

You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think

I’ve been musing this weekend about our forthcoming eat-ups, most of which still have a handful of space if you’d care to join them – book here for the UK and here for Canada. I was thinking about how brave it is to agree to come along for a curry, with a bunch of complete strangers who you know nothing about. I mean obviously I think it’s a great idea, and I’m not trying to put anyone off, and I did just this back in July in Birmingham, but I at least knew Matt B would be there and I had met a number of the people attending before.

So, what of those of you who don’t know anyone. I guess this post is acknowledgement of the courage it takes and the potential anxiety you may experience in doing so. What I would like to reassure you of is that there are no gurus, experts, leaders or specialists when it comes to Social Care Curry Club. We’re all learning, together. With the exception of the nine people who met in July everyone is in the same boat, completely new to it, unsure of how the evening will go, who they’ll sit next to, what they’ll have to talk about. There won’t be any presentations, talks, show boating or showing off, well we really hope there wont be.

Each venue will have at least one volunteer host, you can meet some of them here. These lovely people have agreed to get to the restaurant on time, so no-one will be on their own. They will do their best to give everyone a warm welcome and then it’s over to the rest of us, the remaining two hundred odd people. It’s probably an obvious thing to say, but remember to look out for people, be welcoming, say hello and don’t form cliques in a corner. Of course catch up with people you’ve been long waiting to meet on twitter, or who you haven’t seen in a while, but it’s worth remembering that there is a huge range of people attending, with considerable variety of experiences and knowledge of social care, and you all have something to offer.

So if you’re still uncertain about whether to come I’d really like to encourage you to give it a go. We’re confident that there will be a warm welcome for each of you, and you don’t need to do anything but turn up, enjoy curry and speak to the person you’re sat next to. We promise we won’t put you on the spot, or ask you to answer difficult questions, or stand up and introduce yourself. If you’re particularly shy then maybe just let your host know (in advance or when you arrive – tweet/DM us if you don’t know who your host is) and they’ll find someone for you to talk to.

If this feels like overkill then you probably don’t need the advice that follows, but if it doesn’t then remember, the advice of A.A. Milne to Christopher Robin “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think“.

NPG x19574; Alan Alexander ('A.A.') Milne; Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear by Howard Coster

Enjoy the curry everyone, and please do give it a go.