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University of London hosts London Anchor Institutions’ Network Conference


The first in person London Anchor Institutions’ Network Conference was held at Senate House on Tuesday 31 January 2023. 

Shot of entrance hall with banners for the LAIN conference

The London Anchor Institutions’ Network (LAIN) Conference brought together current and prospective LAIN members, supporters and key stakeholders to reflect on the Network’s progress to date and to set its aims for the future.

The London Anchor Institutions Network was established in March 2021 to tackle the longstanding social and economic inequalities within London, which were exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic, and to work collectively to address the growing urgency of the climate emergency and its impacts on the city. The partnership includes several public, private, faith-based, education and cultural bodies that represent dozens of major organisations across the city.

Professor Wendy Thomson CBE, University of London Vice-Chancellor and co-chair of LAIN, gave the welcome speech at the conference, reiterating the University’s commitment to the network and its work as an anchor institution in London. As a federation of 17 world class member institutions, the University of London employs more than 50,000 people in London itself, with more than 190,000 students studying in the capital.

The University and its Member Institutions are committed to improving access to higher education for students from all backgrounds and see education as making a major contribution to social mobility and life opportunities. For example, the University of London Scholars programme, which was launched last autumn, provides support to more than 30 new students each academic year. The University is spending more than £2m to support the programme over the next three years, which will see 100 students from London being supported across the federal member institutions of the University.

While reflecting on the challenges faced by London and the people who live in the capital, Professor Thomson highlighted that there is now an opportunity to make real, impactful change. By working together and making the right decisions now, LAIN members can help to make London a greener, cleaner, healthier and safer city for everyone.

The conference was a key opportunity for the network institutions to renew their commitment to support building the city’s resilience. This is particularly vital in the face of challenges such as the climate and cost of living crises, as well as the ongoing need to tackle structural inequalities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.

The conference included an opening speech from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and a number of panel discussions and workshops to share best practice and celebrate the breadth of activities led by LAIN members.

The first panel session focused on the practicalities of using an anchor approach in London, and importantly, the benefits and challenges it brings to both local communities and the institutions themselves. Panellists for the session included Jodie Eastwood, CEO, Knowledge Quarter; Imandeep Kaur, Director, Civic Square; and Neil McInroy, Senior Fellow, Democracy Collaborative.

Another panel, Transformation at scale – a conversation with the NHS, highlighted the various activities already taking place in healthcare anchors across the city. The panel included Lizzie Smith, Regional Director, Health Education England; Dr Jo Sauvage, Executive Medical Director, North London Partners in Health and Care and Nathan Christie Plummer, Deputy Director for Workforce, West London NHS Trust. The discussion covered the key factors that have allowed the NHS and other care organisations to overcome barriers in their anchor work and what this means in day-to-day practice.

More information on the London Anchor Institutions Network and the activities undertaken by the network, can be found on the LAIN website.