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December 16, 2015

To visit is to learn

It is a rarity these days for a community to want to do something that hasn’t been tried somewhere else in the country. No one should have to waste valuable time and energy reinventing the wheel when it’s possible to learn from someone else. For the past few months, the community networks that make up the Scottish Community Alliance have been able to fund their members to make these visits. If you are part of one of these networks, it might just be worth giving them a call. If you’re not a member, maybe you should join.


Amanda Cornish/ Jane Churchill

Apply now to the Community Learning Exchange.

For more information, contact the Community Learning Exchange Coordinator at

Applications for funding are still being accepted by the Community Learning Exchange (CLE) which is open to any constituted group that is a member or aspiring member of one of the networks which make up the Scottish Community Alliance.

The objective of the Exchange is to increase the capacity and capability of the community sector by encouraging learning visits between community groups. It will cover 100% of the costs of a visit by members of one community to another community project 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).

Contact your network organisation (which must be a member of the Scottish Community Alliance) for further details and an application form.

Since the Community Learning Exchange launched its 2015/16 fund lots of community groups have seized the opportunity to benefit from learning visits to other organisations. Applicants were asked to describe what they wanted to get out of the visits – to date these have included setting up and running a new social enterprise; project planning and implementation; operational processes; and how to run a community consultation.

Organisations which have taken advantage of the Community Learning Exchange have reported significant benefits:

‘Very worthwhile and informative.’

‘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.’

‘The learning obtained by the group in this visit has given them a lot of much needed confidence in what they are doing and knowledge of what they need to do to create a successful organisation which will help their clients and families.’

‘We gained confidence that we can develop a viable business plan.’