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April 27, 2021

Staying online

For over a year now, Zoom or Teams has become the primary portal through which we have been living our personal, professional and community lives. Notwithstanding its obvious downside, the shift online has undoubtedly widened access and levels of participation across many fields of activity. It will be interesting to monitor how much of what we do remains online. There are new skills and techniques to develop which will make the online experience smoother – no doubt someone is already developing the training. Our own Community Learning Exchange is returning, but in a blended form. Times they are a changin’.

It’s apparent that many community groups have developed expertise in working under new, and ever changing, conditions, and also that the community sector as a whole has a requirement to learn how best to manage their organisations under these same circumstances. The sector has, since lockdown, become used to and adept at communicating through various distance and virtual media such as Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

In response, we have reconfigured the Community Learning Exchange programme so that it can be delivered via distance communication applications. 

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).

(Those pre-lockdown Community Learning Exchange participants who, as a result of social distancing requirements, have had to reschedule their learning visits to later in the year can do so without negatively affecting their grant.)

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.

What will the exchange fund?

The CLE 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.

The Exchange will also fund follow-up support between organisations.  This might be 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.