All of us will have spent the past few weeks responding to the implications for our professional and personal lives of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the profound impact it has had on how we live and work. When this current situation was beginning earlier in the year we had hoped that the worst of the storm would have passed by the summer with our lives returning to some kind of normal, and that this year’s BERA Conference could have taken place, albeit perhaps in a slightly different way.
In the current circumstances with little prospect of requirements for social distancing being relaxed for some time we have now regrettably taken the decision to cancel this year’s conference. This is a matter of profound regret as we had our usual range of excellent papers accepted, some fantastic keynote speakers to look forward to and of course the vital opportunity for networking and knowledge exchange that conference provides.
BERA Conference and Events committee considered whether we could try to run a ‘virtual conference’ but have decided that currently we are just not in a position to do this successfully. It seems quite a different matter to run a single webinar as opposed to a conference of 700 papers that would normally attract close to 1,000 delegates. No doubt we have all seen the rapid development of online platforms, and we will watch these as they develop and build such developments into our future planning. BERA staff have already put considerable time into looking at ways of enabling our BERA community to keep in touch with one another at this time. These plans will be announced in the next few weeks as we trial various online ways of engagement and networking and we hope that some of those symposia or papers destined for conference may find an outlet through these new ways of disseminating the work of BERA members.
At the heart of BERA’s mission is to promote collaboration and engagement. Our commitment to these values remains as strong as ever so we will do all that we can to support our members and the wider community in the coming weeks and months.
Please do stay in touch with us as we try to navigate our way through a truly unprecedented period and we hope that you all stay safe and healthy in these challenging times until we can all meet in person once again at the 2021 BERA Conference in Birmingham!
With best wishes,
Mhairi C Beaton
Conference and Events Committee Chair