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 our Community Learning Exchange. It is available to all groups who are members of the networks that comprise the Scottish Community Alliance (SCA), SCCAN being one of them.
The Community Learning Exchange can be used for different forms of exchange:
Learning Visits – These are opportunities for members of one community project to visit one or several other community projects to get inspiration, know-how, access to first-hand experience, and make valuable contacts.
Learning Journeys – These give the opportunity to invite key decision makers and influencers (MSPs, civil servants, councillors, officers etc) to visit one or more examples of ‘best practice’ to give them an insight into a particular community issue or objective.
On-going support – In depth consultations between organisations. This might be the result of a learning visit when it is recognised that more specific and on-going help, support or advice is required. This can be through face-to-face meetings, Skype, email or phone calls.
The Community Learning Exchange will cover 100% of the costs of a visit up to a limit of £750. Costs may include travel, accommodation (where appropriate), subsistence and a host fee of £300 (up to £500 where the host has multiple visitors). The following rates will apply:
Mileage at 40p per mile – or the cheapest/most convenient form of public transport
Accommodation costs up to £70 per person per night B& B
Subsistence up to £25 per person per day (no alcohol)
What do I need to do?
Your group will need to fill in a simple application form and get the form signed off by the person with responsibility for this who is based with your network. 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.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details and an application form.
What did others do?
To date several SCCAN members have taken part in the Exchange.
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.”