Community Learning Exchange (Virtual) 20/21

Scottish Community Alliance has reconfigured the Community Learning Exchange (CLE) programme so that it can be delivered virtually. 

The Community Learning Exchange is a fantastic opportunity for communities to learn through the exchange of ideas and the sharing of common solutions.  The reconfiguration of the programme will allow community groups to deliver their knowledge and expertise remotely to other community organisations without, we hope, losing the most valuable element of the CLE: meeting new people with similar interests; gaining new insights and perspectives on shared challenges; and coming away armed with new ideas and approaches.

The great value of being networked with others is the opportunity to learn from what’s going on elsewhere. Scotland’s community sector is very well served by networks of all shapes, sizes and specialisms but sometimes the costs of networking and learning from others can be prohibitive. Scottish Government has recognised this and has agreed funding for the Community Learning Exchange.

Please note: The Community Leaning Exchange is available to all community groups who are members of the networks that comprise the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA), SCCAN being one of them. Full (community group) Members of SCCAN therefore have access to this fund. Applications to the Community Learning Exchange (Virtual) should be made by community groups which have experience, expertise or knowledge which they are able and willing to share with other groups (as opposed to applications from groups that are keen to learn from visiting other organisations).

The Exchange will cover up to 100% of the costs of a learning exchange by members of one community to another community project up to a limit of 13 hours at £35 per hour for planning and delivery. We expect these exchanges to be carried out online. This can be spread across several sessions. Applications should be made by community groups with experience, expertise or knowledge which they are willing to share with other groups. Applicants should identify other community groups that are keen to learn from their experience. Virtual visits may be made to more than one host organisation. 

Follow-up mentoring support. Opportunities for time-limited flexible mentoring relationships that support identified learning outcomes are available. The follow-up support between organisations might be necessary as a result of a learning exchange when it is recognised that more specific and on-going help, support, or advice is required. This can be through face-to-face meetings (when eventually allowed), by phone, e-mail, or one of the communications platforms such as Skype or Zoom. Funding for this kind of additional support will need to be negotiated separately.

What do I need to do?

If you have relevant experience, expertise or knowledge to share, your group will need to fill in a simple Community Learning Exchange Application form and get the form signed off by our support officer, Jean-Matthieu Gaunand. Assuming your application has been approved, and you agree to the terms of the grant offer, you then proceed with the visit, pay the organisation who are hosting the visit their agreed fee, and then finally, once the visit has been completed, provide SCA with receipts and a completed follow-up evaluation form.

Please note: Before filling in the application form please read the Guidance Document or contact Jean-Matthieu at info(at) for further details.

What did others do?

To date several SCCAN members have taken part in the Exchange.

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One such group was Bridgend Inspiring Growth who reported: ”We had a fantastic Eco-Building study tour of various eco-build projects in and around South East Scotland. There were 16 participants and people were very inspired, and we have built on that knowledge, enthusiasm and momentum to begin our community build of a self-sustaining bothy building in one of the external barns at Bridgend Farmhouse. Over two months we will work with various individuals and groups to build a bothy with sustainable sources like timber, straw-bale, hemp-crete, cob, solar panels, wood-burner and rain-water harvesting. We are grateful for building these links and alliances with different groups, people and projects across Scotland. We hope in the future to host events, meetings, visits and the like to unite with other groups near and far fighting to create a more sustainable, sensible, resilient and equal society. If anyone or any groups are interested, please get in touch!”

Other comments include:

“Many thanks again for your assistance in making the study visit a reality. It was particularly effective to see something working in real life – presentations and web searches can give info – but a visit makes it real.”

“We really appreciate this support. We learned a great deal, took some practical ideas and suggestions away and also could assess and compare our own work. Inevitably time constraints pressed but the exercise was well worthwhile for the 17 who participated. It widens horizons, reinforces our approach and allows positive comparisons of what we do and challenges we can address. More useful than training.”

The organisation came away with a lot of confidence that their organisation can be set up to run successfully and the specific individuals came away with more confidence in their own ability.”