Good news for those communities with a hankering to visit another community where something of particular interest to them is happening, the Community Learning Exchange is once again open for business. These small awards that pay for travel and subsistence and a host fee, have proved very popular and effective – low on cost, high on impact. What is certainly true is that there is very little that is truly new under the sun and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. There’s also much to be gained from learning from your peers.
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 2019 and up until March 2020. Funding is limited, and once it has been committed no further applications will be accepted.
Please remember, applications must be endorsed by a network that is a member of SCA unless your organisation is a community council.