Our research found that 72% community businesses work closely with other community businesses and 69% actively support the development of community businesses. That, and feedback from community businesses at events, tells us peer networks are one of the most important forms of support a community business can get. Below are some of the most interesting networks supporting community businesses specifically.

For people who run community hubs

There are a few membership networks of people working in hubs, pubs and shops that deliver way more than just their basic services:

Locality is the national network of ambitious and enterprising community-led organisations, working together to help neighbourhoods thrive.

Octopus Communities links up community centres in London to share best practice.

Social Enterprise Acumen CIC is a network for social entrepreneurs in the North East of England, offering workshops, coaching and accelerator programmes.

 

The New Inn - Norton Lindsey

For people running community shops or pubs

If you are looking to start a community shop or pub, particularly in a rural area, the Plunkett Foundation has some great Facebook pages you can join:

Join the Plunkett Community Shops Network or Community Pubs Network on Facebook.

For people who want to engage their community

Eden Project Communities is behind The Big Lunch. Worth a look if you want to get your neighbours to do something amazing together.

There’s lots of platforms to get involved in volunteering but one of them is Project Dirt, where you can advertise or find a community project to get involved in.

The Company of Community Organisers is the national body established to support the training and development of community organising in England.

 

For people who want to run a community share offer

The Community Shares Practitioner Network is led by Co-operatives UK and  aims to support individuals and organisations who provide advice and guidance to communities undertaking share offers.

 

 

For people who want to run community libraries or growing projects

The Community Food Growers Network is an informal network of people involved in community food growing in London.

Upper Norwood Library Trust is leading the community library network .

For people who want to run community sports

Supporters Direct helps fans to set up democratic cooperatives (known as supporters’ trusts) to gain influence in the running and ownership of their clubs.

 

For people who want to get involved in community energy

Check out the Community Energy Hub and Community Energy England for resources and networking opportunities.

If you’re based in the South West, Regen SW  have lots of networking events so you can ask your peers and the wider energy sector all about setting up and running a successful energy project.

How to be get the most out of and run a successful peer network

In 2016, we recruited 13 peer network professionals to form a Community of Practice and explore effective ways for community businesses to connect with each other and to other businesses. You can access all of their sessions and find out what makes a network tick on this microsite: Unlocking Networks.