Leading the Way

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Building leadership skills, confidence and networks in North East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Applications now closed

Leading the Way is a programme for people who are running community enterprises, including community businesses, who want to develop their confidence and resilience, and become better able to achieve their goals, and the mission of their organisation.


Beyond the skills that enable you to be a good manager, Leading the Way will give you the support and space to become a more effective leader. Over the course of the programme you will be guided by a mentor, who will work with you to create a development plan for you and your organisation, and take part in group learning, specialist support, and sessions with a coach to put your plan into action. You will also build a network of peers from your region with whom you can share and learn.


Your engagement in the programme is supported by an £8k grant, which can be used to bring in additional resource to support your organisation while you are learning, or to further the impact of your organisation.

Tailored learning programme
One-to-one development and group learning
£8,000 support grant
Delivered to community businesses in Northeast of England and Yorkshire and Humber
Read the guidance and apply below

About Leading the Way

Leading the Way offers a tailored learning programme that balances one-to-one development and group learning, with a grant of £8,000 to support your development and the impact of your organisation.

We are recruiting 10 community leaders in the North East of England and 10 community leaders in Yorkshire and the Humber to join our learning programme, which will take place from April 2022 to June 2023 (16 months). You will be grouped by region so you can build valuable relationships with other community enterprises in your area. In person group learning sessions for the North East cohort will take place in Newcastle, and in Leeds for the Yorkshire and the Humber cohort.

The programme consists of:

  • A programme mentor who will work with you to identify your development goals and co-produce a tailored development plan. The Programme Mentor will be your point of contact during the programme and also hosts the group learning sessions and facilitates learning between leaders.
  • In person group learning sessions every six weeks to build your technical management skills and leadership capabilities, learning alongside people running organisations like yours, so you can help each other out. There will be 10 full day in person sessions, plus a final event to celebrate your achievements. You can use your grant to cover travel costs.
  • Tailored one-to-one specialist support between group sessions to assist your learning, provide practical support to put your learning into practice and to focus on particular technical challenges or skills development to suit your needs.
  • Access to one-to-one coaching for the duration of the programme to support your personal development.
  • Site visits and online inspirational talks from leaders who have been on a similar journey to you, including Q&A sessions.
  • Access to the in person group learning sessions and online talks for another relevant member of your organisation’s team to further build the capabilities and impact of your organisation.
  • An £8,000 grant for your organisation to support your development as a leader and the impact of your organisation.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
We welcome strong applications from community leaders across the community enterprise sector. We will, however, be prioritising applications that demonstrate the greatest potential to learn and benefit from the programme.

We will be prioritising applications that:

  • Demonstrate strong social impact and community benefit from the organisation’s activities and scope for the programme to deepen this impact
  • Are from organisations operating in the most statistically disadvantaged areas according to the 2019 Indices of Multiple Deprivation
  • Are from relatively young or early stage organisations
  • Demonstrate the individual’s commitment to developing their leadership skills and meeting the time and travel commitments of the programme
  • Propose a use of the grant which would support the individual’s development as a leader and the impact of the organisation

We will also aim to ensure a diverse range of locations from within each region are represented in each cohort and particularly encourage applications from groups under-represented in leadership positions, including from minoritised ethnic communities and disabled people.

Programme benefits
  • Build your confidence and resilience to enable you to be an effective leader
  • Improve your technical skills in areas such as financial management and marketing
  • Grow your networks and become better connected
  • Achieve your personal leadership development goals
  • Support your organisation to become more resilient, a stronger business and to deepen its impact.
What will I learn?

The in-person learning sessions will be delivered by our partners The School for Social Entrepreneurs, and will cover the following areas:

  • What is leadership
  • Leadership in a community enterprise setting
  • Introduction to leadership styles, including coaching
  • Finance skills
  • Financial and business planning
  • Trading models for community enterprises
  • Good governance and succession planning
  • Managing and leading people
  • Understanding emotional intelligence
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Conflict resolution
  • Understanding power dynamics and how to make yourself heard
  • Network mapping and influencing
  • PR and marketing
  • The power of story telling
  • Wellbeing for yourself and your team
  • Climate, sustainability and your role as a leader
  • Leadership in a digital environment
  • Impact measurement
  • Working with volunteers

About the partners

Power to Change - Virgin Money Foundation logos

Power to Change

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust set up in 2015 whose funding is used to strengthen community businesses across England. At a time when many parts of the UK face cuts, neglect and social problems, we are helping local people come together and make sure their local areas survive and stay vibrant.

No one understands a community better than the people who live there. In some areas, people are already coming together to solve problems for themselves, and we support them as they run businesses which help their whole community and recycle money back into the local area. Power to Change’s vision is ‘powerful communities, better places’, where community businesses revive local assets, protect the services people rely on, and address local needs.

Virgin Money Foundation

The Virgin Money Foundation is an independent charity based in the North East of England. Its ambition is to make a real and lasting difference in the places that need it most.

Since its launch in 2015 Virgin Money Foundation has worked with community organisations that seek to create positive change in their local area. It recognises that in addition to safeguarding and strengthening the vital work that already takes place, new solutions are required. In order to support these solutions to develop the Foundation is working in partnership to develop programmes that support community entrepreneurs and young change makers to develop as leaders and deepen the impact their work has upon their local community.

Eligibility criteria

Criteria for organisations

To be eligible to join the programme, your organisation must:

1. Be based in an area that experiences high levels of statistical disadvantage
Your organisation must be based in an area in the North East of England or Yorkshire and the Humber ranked within the top 30% of the 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation. You can check where your community is on the indices using this postcode lookup.
2. Generate some of its income through contracts, products or services
Your organisation must generate some of its income through selling goods or services to customers or commissioners. Community enterprises, including community businesses, generate earned income and sell services and products in and around their local area. They create benefits for the local community through the products or services they deliver and through the way the business is run. To be eligible your organisation must be an established organisation with a history of generating earned income.
3. Be community focused and operating within a local area
Your organisation must be operating locally and building on the strengths and assets of that place to address community needs. Organisations operating at a regional or national level, or that are a subsidiary of a larger or national organisation, are not eligible to apply.
4. Have been incorporated for at least two years
At the time of applying, your organisation must have been incorporated for at least two years. Unfortunately we are unable to support unincorporated organisations. Examples of unincorporated organisations, which we won’t fund, include unincorporated associations.
5. Not be a sole trader
Sole traders who run their own business as an individual and are self-employed are not eligible to apply. Community Interest Companies with only one director are also not eligible.
6. Have a charitable purpose and meet a charitable need in your community
Your organisation must have a charitable purpose at the heart of what it does, which meets charitable needs in your community. This does not mean that your organisation has to be a charity, as we will fund a variety of legal structures, but we cannot fund activities which don’t further a charitable purpose.

We will fund the following charitable purposes:

  • the prevention or relief of poverty
  • the advancement of education
  • the advancement of health or the saving of lives
  • the advancement of citizenship or community development
  • the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science
  • the advancement of environmental protection or improvement
  • the relief of those in need because of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage
  • the relief of unemployment
  • the promotion of urban and rural regeneration
  • the promotion of social inclusion.
7. Be for public benefit
For an organisation to be charitable, it needs to have both a charitable purpose and to be for public benefit. This means that your organisation must create benefits for a sufficient section of your community, including people who are experiencing disadvantage. If your activities are for private benefit and will only benefit a few people in your community or will only provide benefits to people who aren’t experiencing disadvantage, we will not be able to support your organisation.

Criteria for applicants

In addition, you as the applicant must:

1. Be someone who leads your organisation
You must be someone who leads your organisation with responsibility or accountability for the running of your organisation. You must have decision making responsibility and manage a team of people, which may be small and/or predominantly volunteer-based. Relevant roles and job titles may vary for different organisations.
2. Have not accessed a leadership development programme in the last 5 years
You must not have benefitted from a leadership development programme in the last 5 years. By ‘leadership development programme’ we mean a substantial, longer-term course, rather than a course that lasted one or two days.
3. Be able to commit to 1.5 days per month
We are looking for community leaders who are keen to learn, develop and invest in the future of their organisations. You will need to demonstrate that you can commit to approximately 1.5 days per month on average to engage with the programme support and materials over 16 months, including travelling to in person group learning sessions in Leeds or Newcastle every six weeks.

You can use your grant to support with backfilling your role.

While some aspects of the programme, such as the group sessions, will take place on particular dates, you will have the flexibility to arrange your one-to-one coaching and other support to take place at a time that suits you.

Application process

Applications for this round are now closed.

Helpful resources

Watch our introductory webinar

Learn more about the programme, including our eligibility requirements.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How does the programme consider diversity, equity and inclusion?

Power to Change and the Virgin Money Foundation are committed to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion. We seek to be genuinely inclusive organisations by taking an equitable approach to how we design and implement our policies and practices.

Across all our funding activities, we encourage and welcome applications from community organisations which meet our eligibility criteria and which can clearly demonstrate how their work promotes inclusion.

Shortly after the submission of your application, we will send you our diversity and inclusion survey. This is completely optional to fill out, but if you do, it helps us make sure our funding supports a wide group of people.

Inclusive practices are designed to promote participation by people with a wide range of human experience including different race/ethnicity, genders, sexualities, ages, religions and disabilities or lack thereof. To learn more about making your community business more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities, please read our Accessibility and Inclusion Guidance.

Please let us know by emailing comms@powertochange.org.uk if you need this guidance in a large print, braille or audio transcript.

How are you using my data?

Confidential information you provide, such as commercially sensitive data, will not be made public in any way, except as required by law. Power to Change and the Virgin Money Foundation may use non-sensitive data about awarded grants, including statistical data about applications, to promote the programme.

Please note that the details captured via this application are deemed necessary in order to complete our review of your application. Your personal details and those of your colleagues that you have shared here, will be stored and processed online in accordance with GDPR regulations.

We will only store your information for as long as it is necessary and will delete your information when there is no further legitimate, legal or contractual reason to keep it. For more information and to understand your rights under the GDPR with regards to the information you supply as part of your application, please visit the Power to Change and Virgin Money Foundation websites.

Why focus on community enterprise leaders?
Power to Change and the Virgin Money Foundation share a vision of the sustainable regeneration of communities, led by people who love the places in which they live. Community enterprise leaders work relentlessly and display huge agility to make where they live better for everyone. They played a vital role before and during the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to take the lead in driving positive change and responding to future challenges.

Like all businesses, they need to continually evolve and improve to meet these challenges. That’s why we’ve launched Leading the Way to support them to refine their leadership and management skills in order to strengthen their organisation and deepen its impact within their community.

Why North East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber?
Starting in the North East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber, the programme has been developed for leaders of community enterprises, including community businesses, who haven’t recently benefited from formal leadership training, are ‘getting on and doing it’ and might feel other leadership programmes aren’t for them.

It aims to support these community leaders to build their confidence, resilience, skills and networks to progress their leadership and their organisations to the next stage. Applications are particularly encouraged from groups under-represented in leadership positions, including from minoritised ethnic communities and disabled people.

What do you mean by charitable purpose?
You can find more information about charitable purpose on the Charity Commission website.
What do you mean by private benefit?
Any personal benefits people receive through the community business must be no more than a necessary result or by-product of delivering public benefit.

Personal benefits could include financial payments to the owners of a property that an organisation uses or membership benefits.

These private benefits need to be incidental in both nature and amount. Returns from community shares are allowable. Click here for more information, including examples of personal benefit.

Who can I contact with specific questions?
For any further information, advice, or guidance during the application process, please email leadingtheway@powertochange.org.uk to get further support.