Herefordshire is one of the most beautiful counties in Britain. But, like the rest of the country, we have struggled since the Global Financial Crisis.

The Herefordshire 2030 project, which was launched in July this year by the Royal Society for the Arts and The 99% Organisation, aims to explore how Herefordshire can – even without waiting for changes in government policy – become more prosperous, greener and fairer than today. A team of volunteers has been working to assess the challenges the county faces and has researched a fact-pack which sets out hypotheses for the challenges we face, and which you can see here.

Tackling these issues will not be easy, and we will only succeed if the county is united: if the business community, the Council, the farming community, the educational community and the third sector jointly develop workable solutions and cooperate in implementing them.

On 26 November, we held an information session, Innovative Finance with Tony Greenham and Jules Peck, the UK’s leading experts on community banking. This session gave an overview of each of three types of innovative finance and an opportunity to discuss with Tony and Jules the possibilities of using them to help drive Herefordshire’s economy.

On 8 December, we held Focus for Herefordshire. The Herefordshire 2030 project has compiled research about the challenges in three areas: equity – the location and causes of deprivation within Herefordshire; environment – the county’s biggest environmental challenges and opportunities; and economy – key sectors and what it might take to stimulate their growth. This session will enable participants to discuss each of these three areas individually and also to consider cross-cutting issues so that we can agree the focus areas in which we should jointly develop solutions for Herefordshire.