Shared learning

21 March 2018

The first recorded instance of a community coming together in a collective enterprise was a group of weavers from Fenwick in Ayrshire over 250 years ago. Who knows how many thousands of examples of community action have occurred since then. While the memories of these may still linger within the heritage and history of individual communities, it’s still relatively new for all this knowledge to be shared around the country. For some years now, Scottish Government has had the foresight to fund a Learning Exchange programme that allows this to happen. Great news that this will continue next year.

Community Learning Exchange

The Community Learning Exchange is a fantastic opportunity for communities to learn through the exchange of ideas and the sharing of common solutions.  When community groups make visits to other communities, the most valuable part is often meeting new people with similar interests and gaining new insights and perspectives on shared challenges.  Visiting groups come away armed with new ideas and approaches, and host organisations have the opportunity to explain their project to a new and interested audience, often seeing their own projects afresh through new eyes.

What will the exchange fund?

The Exchange will fund up to 100% of the costs of a visit by members of one community to another community project up to a limit of £750, including a host fee.  In exceptional circumstances (where travel distances are greater or certain aspects of the visit are particularly expensive) this limit can be increased.  Similarly, visits out with Scotland, but within the UK, will be considered where a similar project does not exist in Scotland.

The Exchange will also fund follow up support between organisations.  This might be as a 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, by phone, e-mail, or skype. Funding for this kind of additional support will need to be negotiated separately.

How to apply?

The Exchange operates primarily through the networks that comprise the Scottish Community Alliance.  The exception to this rule are Scotland’s community councils. Since the demise of the Association of Scottish Community Councils, there has been no umbrella body for community councils.

Applications to the Exchange are processed through one or other of the networks’ designated members of staff. The exception to this rule are community councils who should apply directly to the Exchange Coordinators. Applications can be made at any time for visits throughout 2017 and up until March 2018. Funding is limited, and once it has been committed no further applications will be accepted.

For guidance about the Community Learning Exchange click here.

For an application form click here.

Please remember, applications must be endorsed by a network that is a member of SCA unless your organisation is a community council.

Contact details:

To find out how your community-based organisation can apply to the Community Learning Exchange, contact one of the networks (check http://www.scottishcommunityalliance.org.uk) or email

exchange@scottishcommunityalliance.org.uk or call the Exchange Coordinators (Jane on 07581 216246 or Amanda on 07843 481790).

References: Scottish Community Alliance. 2018. Retrieved from http://www.scottishcommunityalliance.org.uk/articles/2712/

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