Speakers

Hear from leading speakers about some of the biggest issues facing the world today.

Open your mind.

We want visitors to come away from Volunteer Expo Live with a spring in their step and ideas in their minds.

That’s why we have organised a programme full of expert speakers and inspiring sessions to get you feeling energised, ready to change lives and take action. Sessions will be in a range of formats, including soapbox talks and Q&A sessions covering a range of important topics.

We'll look at the challenges our communities face and the successes we're sharing together.


Ben Cohen MBE

Founder of The StandUp Foundation and Rugby World Cup winner

After a hugely successful rugby career, Ben founded The StandUp Foundation in 2012. It is the world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying. This is a cause extremely close to Ben’s heart, following the tragic death of his father, who was fatally injured trying to protect an employee who was being bullied.

Chizzy Akudolu

Actor, writer and mental health advocate

Best known for her role in Holby City, actress and writer Chizzy Akudolu was diagnosed with depression in 2014. After successfully learning to live with and overcome her mental health issues, since then, Chizzy has been a vocal advocate. She now champions the importance of breaking down the stigma attached to mental health issues, and the need to talk openly about what we’re all going through.

Jennifer Jones

Rotary International President 2022/23

Jennifer Jones will become Rotary International's global President in July 2022. Rotary is one of the world's leading membership and humanitarian service organisations, leading the way on range of society's biggest issues including promoting peace, supporting education, protecting the environment and ending polio.


Power of Sport

Over 6 million adults give their time at least twice a year to make sport happen across the UK. Sport is a huge part of the voluntary sector and society as a whole and we will be exploring the Power of Sport in a special panel discussion.

We're joined by 3 guests to give their perspectives on the importance of volunteering from grass roots participation through to elite level sport, as well as the Power of Sport in driving community change and forging social connections.

Hannah Mills

Olympic sailing champion and environmental advocate
Hannah is the most successful female Olympic sailor ever, after winning back to back gold medals at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Off the water, Hannah is hugely passionate about the environment, using her sporting background to raise awareness and change behaviour. She is the International Olympic Committee’s Sustainability Ambassador and in 2019 launched the Big Plastic Pledge to eradicate single use plastic in sport.

Sam Barlow

Founder of Fitmums & Friends. BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero 2021

In 2009, Sam started Fitmums & Friends in her East Yorkshire village as a way to socialise with other parents. Her idea quickly grew, with over 950 people getting active and connecting together in supportive groups. After losing her husband in October 2020, Sam used her experience of bereavement to run activity sessions for those who’d lost a loved one. Sam was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero 2021.

Phil Smith

Executive Director, Partnerships at Sport England

Phil is one of Sport England’s leadership team of six. His role includes overseeing partnership and investments aimed at helping more people enjoy the benefits of sport, with an emphasis on tackling inequalities, as well as working to develop elite sporting talent. He also helps fulfil the needs of the country’s 7 million sporting volunteers, 1.2 million coaches and 400,000 professional staff.

Hosted by Steve Brown

Broadcaster and Paralympian

In 2005, Steve became paralysed when he fell from a balcony and broke his neck. Far from being held back by this adversity, he was soon introduced to wheelchair rugby. Steve went on to captain Team GB’s wheelchair rugby squad at the London 2012 Paralympic games. Since retiring from elite sport, Steve is now a successful broadcaster, coach and mentor.


Ending homelessness with Crisis UK

Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating. Sadly, it has also been rising year on year in England since 2018, with an estimated 227,000 households across Britain experiencing the worst forms of homelessness. We're joined by Matt Green, from Crisis' Birmingham Skylight Project and ambassador Ayo Akinwolere to find out how we can all make a difference.

Ayo Akinwolere

Broadcaster and Crisis UK Ambassador

Nigerian-born Ayo’s award-winning, 14-year television career has taken him from Blue Peter to Inside Out in the West Midlands, as well as hosting televised sport across the world including the Premier League and Winter Olympics. After supporting Crisis for many years, in 2021 he became a UK Ambassador.

Matt Green

Director, Crisis UK's Birmingham Skylight project

Matt has been working for Crisis since 2010 as Director of Crisis Skylight Birmingham, which supports people experiencing are at risk of homelessness. He also chairs the Birmingham Homelessness Forum and sits on the West Midlands Combined Authority’s homelessness task force.


Vision for Volunteering

A new 10-year cross-sector strategy to outline the future of volunteering is to be launched as part of Volunteer Expo Live.

Vision for Volunteering, led by five partner organisations, will outline what is needed to ensure volunteering can continue to make a big impact for the next decade – and beyond.

Ruth Leonard

Chair, Association of Volunteer Managers

We're delighted to have Ruth Leonard, Chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, one of the five partner organisations, launching Vision for Volunteering. Ruth's day job is as Head of Volunteering Development at Macmillan Cancer Support. For Ruth, volunteer management is about empowering and enabling people to bring creativity and ingenuity to a solution to make a difference in their community.


Your Event Hosts

Friday Host

Ade Adepitan

Broadcaster and Paralympian

Having survived polio as a child, Ade Adepitan has since succeeded as an international Paralympic wheelchair basketball player and has built up a wealth of broadcasting experience. An instantly recognisable face, Ade has travelled the world for his work including the BBC’s internationally known Travel Show exploring the history and cultures behind the globe’s most enticing countries.

Saturday Host

Ellie Crisell

Broadcaster and Journalist

Ellie Crisell has been welcomed into our living rooms for more than 20 years, starting her career as one of the youngest network newsreaders in the country. She kicked off her journalistic career at 23, newsreading for Channel 5 News, and radio presenting and reporting for ITN. She is now a senior presenter at the BBC.


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