What is it like being part of the Community Shares Practitioner Network?

In the last five years, over 120,000 people have invested over £100,000,000 in community shares to support around 400 community businesses throughout the UK, including the Anglers Rest community pub in Bamford. Petra Morris, Project Officer at Co-operatives UK who run the Community Shares Practitioner Network, caught up with Sally Soady, Company Secretary of Bamford Community Society to find out what it’s like to be part of the network and how you can join.

Petra: Hi Sally. How much did you raise through your community share offer to save your community pub?

Sally: We raised £263,500 through a community share offer to purchase the Anglers Rest in 2013 and this year we’re running an open share offer. This 150-year trading inn lies in the centre of Bamford, a village at the heart of the most visited area of the Peak District National Park.

Petra: What made you join the Community Shares Practitioner Network?

Sally: After having successfully gone through the community share offer, I gradually found myself advising other community owned pubs with their community share offer and hosting study visits. I realised there were things that I would do differently next time, and wanted to learn more in order to better inform others. So I joined the Community Shares Practitioner Network, a community of over 100 practitioners providing advice and guidance to communities undertaking share offers.

Petra: Who is part of the network?

Sally: Practitioners have a wide variety of backgrounds, but all are experienced in community share offers. They might be board members, technical advisers, business plan developers or share offer document writers. Some are experts in a particular trade sector, knowledgeable about society law, or experienced in community engagement. Whatever their background, experience and expertise, they are all committed to developing share offers that meet national standards of good practice.  It’s great being part of a community of like-minded practitioners and being able to network and share best practice.

Petra: In 2015, the Community Shares Unit (CSU) introduced a license for community shares practitioners which allows them to award the Community Shares Standard Mark. You’re on your journey to becoming fully licensed I believe?

Sally: Yes, I participated in the community shares licensing training programme from November 2016 to March 2017 and gained a better understanding of the philosophy behind community shares. The knowledge has been invaluable in helping me guide our Community Benefit Society through discussions around share withdrawals and paying interest and we’ve successfully applied for support through the Community Shares Booster programme to develop an open community share offer. I’m now much more confident about supporting other community businesses with their community shares offers by using the Standard Mark and taking part in peer reviews and training to become fully licensed.

The next training programme for community shares licensed practitioners is due to start in November 2017 so if you have undertaken a community share offer, are looking to build on your current experience and promote good practice, find out more here.

 

Petra Morris is a Projects Officer at Co-operatives UK. Petra is responsible for helping to deliver support programmes which have benefited hundreds of co-ops and community businesses including the Community Shares Practitioner Network (CSPN). Petra is also part of the People’s Community of Practice (CoP) funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England. It is supporting 13 community business peer networks over 18 months.

We are  also happy to announce that we are able to offer a limited number of training bursaries via the Peer Network Programme which is being funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses.  The bursary is for freelancers and individuals from organisations with limited training resources who are actively involved with community businesses.