I first got involved in LeedsJS in 2015, and then took over as the main organiser in 2016. Since then, we’ve grown from around 15 people per event to about 60 per event.
The biggest drive for LeedsJS is sharing knowledge so that our attendees can become better developers. In recent years I’ve expanded the scope of this by adding another talk spot where we try and get talks on topics such as mental health, testing and inclusivity. These are topics that make people better teammates, and this fits well with the goal of helping people become better developers.
We also provide a platform for people who want to share their knowledge and try public speaking. The majority of our speakers are local, and over the past couple of years we’ve had a number of first-time speakers who have gone on to speak all over the world (myself included).
Another thing that I’ve been pushing is ensuring that we make the group inclusive. I’ve made some changes over the past few years with the aim of reducing the barriers for people to attend our events, such as removing Q&A, moving our events to a alcohol free venue and accounting for dietary restrictions when picking the food.
Independent community groups are hugely important to the tech scene in any city, as they bring people together from all backgrounds with the sole aim of making everyone better. In Leeds we’re very lucky to have a number of really fantastic grassroots community groups run by organisers who volunteer their time, and I’m proud to be part of that group.