This section outlines who we are at Power to Change, our vision, our mission, and our areas of focus.
About Power to Change
We are an independent trust that supports community businesses in England. We help communities use shared power and business to transform where they live. We support community businesses across England to access:
- Peer networks
- Business development
- Capacity building
- Social investment
- Advice and funding
Our Vision: Powerful communities, better places
By 2025, we want more communities in England to run businesses that give them power to change what really matters to them. We want people to be able to create more resilient places. Places that are better to live in. Places that work for everyone.
Find out more about the change we want to make.
Our Mission: Strengthen the community business sector
We tackle some of society’s biggest challenges at a local level. We focus particularly on the three biggest challenges of our time:
- Climate change
- Digital transformation
- Social inequalities
About Powering Up
This section provides a brief overview of the programme, including our aims, approach, timelines, and key people.
Powering Up offers capacity strengthening support over a 12 month period. The programme supports community businesses in England that need resources and help investing in their future. We support community business leaders addressing social and economic disadvantage within their local communities. We also support leaders that are improving equity within their organisations.
Our ambition is to partner with you as a community business leader as well as your teams. The programme is to support you as you develop and grow your organisation.
Areas of focus
Powering Up supports community businesses in three key areas:
- Digital growth
- Zero carbon and sustainability
- Financial resilience.
We will also work with you to address issues your community business faces with equity, diversity, and inclusion.
How we work with you to achieve equity
Our approach is based on “equity” and not “equality”. This means that we recognise different groups have different needs and face particular barriers to inclusion and participation, perhaps in relation to applying for support.
Equity is different to equality, in equality we give everyone the same, in equity we look at what each group might need to fully take part and reach their goals and ambitions.
We will assist you and your community business to access the resources and support needed to address barriers you may face. This is to help you and your community business reach equitable outcomes.
Why do you not use the term equality?
Equality is a term rooted in the equal rights movements of the past century. These movements sought to break down the legal and social barriers that excluded groups including minoritised ethnicities. The aim was to achieve equal treatment and legal rights for all.
For example, in the UK everyone enjoys the equal right to education and has access to government-funded primary and secondary education. However, neurodivergent children who are autistic, have ADHD, or dyslexia have substantially worse educational outcomes. Instead of ‘equality’ we use the term ‘equity’, which is about how we work to address unequal social and economic outcomes in our communities.
How the digital transformation round works
This section explains how this round of Powering Up works, including our offer, information on our support providers, and a list of organisations supporting this programme.
You have succeeded in your application to the first round of the Powering Up programme. This round focuses on digital transformation.
The Powering Up programme will run for a total of four years with multiple rounds of support. Future rounds of the programme will focus on zero carbon and sustainability as well as financial resilience.
Our offer to you
We provide a tailored support package to help you:
- Create space to identify business needs and draft plans to address them
- Access to specialist skills and support your business may need
- Increase your knowledge and capabilities in digital and business transformation
- Support to develop and implement practices that support robust wellbeing practices
- Build peer relationships to boost recovery across the sector, by “peer relationships” we mean working with others who run community businesses and face the same issues a and problems as your own community business.
- Address issues of social and economic exclusion faced by marginalised and minoritised communities in England
- Access to unrestricted funds to bolster your capacity and resources during this programme.
What to expect
Phase 1: Space to explore
- 3-4 months
- Community business review
- Assessment of needs
- Building trust
- Supported to develop rituals for creating space
Phase 2: Discover
- Up to 6 months
- Community business partners will start spending their grants
- Specialist support
- Digital design: discovery, tools training and embedding a solution
- Cement rituals
Phase 3: Embedding new practice
- Up to 12 months
- Make iterative improvements/amendments
- Impact and insight measurement
- Cement rituals
Who will you work with
Specialists can provide support in relation to your specific needs and your community Business Connector will help you to find the right specialist to work with. More detail on specialist support in the section below.
Community Business Connectors
A dedicated Community Business Connector will work with you for the entire 12-month period. They will guide and support whilst you move through the programme and the different sections of support on offer. There are four Community Business Connectors supporting the Powering Up programme. Each connector brings significant experience working with and in the community business sector. Find out more about the team here.
Their role is to help you access the right support throughout the 12-month programme. First, they will meet with you to understand the needs of you and your community business. Through ongoing conversations that will help identify your business priorities, they will then tailor a support package which meets each of your needs. Community Business Connectors will also be available to help you with problems and issues as they arise over the twelve months of support we offer .
The Digital Leads are experts in the information, communication and technology sector that will support the Community Business Connectors to understand and define the digital and technology needs of the community businesses they support. Digital Leads might join a call or workshop when the Connector feels this would be beneficial to the aim of the conversation/learning.
The Powering Up programme is led by Power to Change with the support of partner organisations. Current support providers include:
As the programme develops, we may expand our range of support partners. Your Community Business Connector will keep you informed of any changes to the support providers.
Specialist support – how does it work?
On offer is a mix of technical and non-technical support. It includes:
- Paid access to support providers. This is your development programme. We at Power to Change want you to get the best support possible to enable you and your community business to thrive. That is why we pair you with a Community Business Connector to understand your needs and find the right support provider to help you.
- Professional development and wellbeing support. We provide professional development coaches to help you develop your personal and business growth strategies. We also partner with peer mentors who understand the pressures and issues facing community businesses. Their expertise is rooted in having all faced similar issues in their own community business.
- An £8,000 unrestricted grant. The purpose of this grant is to help financially support you to be able to engage in the Powering Up programme. This grant can be used to cover your time, back fill a post, purchase essential equipment, or cover other expenditure that enables growth of your community business.
Specialist digital support
Specialist digital support will be provided by experts experienced working with social impact and community-centered organisations. Their support will have a high level of skills and capability building, as well as peer learning approach. In practice this means that Community Businesses will be learning how to approach digital transformation by doing with the guidance and support of the digital specialist.
From our research with community businesses we identified priority areas for support. This, together with the insights from the digital transformation programme experts who helped shape the design of this Powering Up programme, have informed the following three support options. Further learning from Phase 1 of the programme might evolve this offer, as we are committed to ensure the community businesses get the greatest value from this programme.
Support Option 1 – Digital Discovery – recommended option
For Community Businesses keen to explore how digital can help them with a challenge.
It includes researching and scope of the digital need. It involves activities such as:
- Carrying out user research
- Establishing goals and defining success
- Outline the value proposition
- Understanding the broader context
Specialist will support small cohorts of community businesses to maximise learning and build a peer-community of practice.
Curious about what digital discovery entails? This article will provide with more information.
Support Option 2 – Tools Training
For community businesses who want to improve their collaborative (and remote) working approach through the use of online tools.
It might include:
- Workshops and training sessions that build capability and confidence in utilising online tools to improve collaborative working, think Zoom, Asana, Trello, Miro, Teams, etc.
- Developing training tools, toolkits and guides for the wider team and key stakeholders
Specialists will provide learning workshops to cohorts of community businesses to maximise shared learning and build connections amongst peers.
Support option 3 – Introducing a solution
For community businesses who have identified a solution to their digital challenge and who want support to tailor it to their needs and help to embedding it into their practice.
It might include:
- Tailoring low/no-code solutions (tools) to the needs of your community business
- Embedding the solution into your processes and practice
- Training and coaching on how to use tools
- Capability building for ongoing management of tool
Conditions that need to be met by community businesses to go straight into embedding a solution:
- thorough discovery and definition activities
- thorough user research and testing of wireframes
- there is a clear brief for support procurement
- support will be procured through and open process; when working with a known agency/freelancer there needs to be evidence this support was procured through an open process.
We expect specialists will work 1:1 with community businesses to gain a thorough understanding of interconnected business functions in order to effectively implement the tool.
HOW TO ACCESS SUPPORT
This section outlines how you access support over the 12-months of the programme, which includes meeting with your Community Business Connector, completing a business diagnostic, creating a business support plan, and identifying support providers.
Step 1: Talk to your Community Business Connector
You will be assigned a Community Business Connector who will discuss your needs with you in more detail.
They will help you create a tailored programme to help you develop and grow. You can take a ‘mix and match’ approach, which means you can choose which of our support services you want to access.
Step 2: Complete a business review
After you explain your needs, you and your Community Business Connector will complete a community business review. This exercise helps us to find the right kind of support for you.
Step 3: Create a business support plan
Once you are happy with your review, you will develop a business support plan with your Community Business Connector.
Your Community Business Connector will summarise your previous discussion in a document. They will outline what has been agreed into your business support plan.
The plan is sensitive to you and your organisation’s capacity. They will work with you to ensure that the plan aligns with your organisational plans and activities over the 12 months of the programme.
This plan will be available on the online programme portal for you to review over the course of the programme
Step 4: Identify support providers
With a plan in place, your Community Business Connector will help identify which of our support providers can help you achieve the specific goals identified in your business support plan.
You can choose to work with our support providers. Or you may choose to work with other organisations. You will be able to see all of our available support providers through the programme portal.
Your Community Business Connector will help introduce you to support providers. You can then work with your support provider and your Community Business Connecter to decide how to work towards the changes you want to make for you and your community business.
This section tells you how to access our online programme support portal.
The programme portal is the main way for you and your team to manage your involvement in the programme. It provides an overview of your award and the support activities you have chosen and shows you the remaining funds and support days you have available. You can also look at our approved support providers and submit requests for support.
Important features on the portal
The online programme portal is there to help you during your 12 months on the programme. It can help you:
- Match with support providers that understand your sector as well as your needs, culture, and experiences.
- Find support providers that understand the barriers and exclusions you face in your work.
- Keep track and submit evidence of spend against your funded costs.
- Receive, upload and store key documents. You can then work on them in your own time.
- Stay in touch with your support providers and your Community Business Connector.
- See the progress, adjustments, learning and achievements you are making
How to access the portal
You will receive your login details via email. You can see an overview of the programme portal here. However, your Community Business Connector will help you access and start using it.
Help navigating the portal
We have created videos showing you how to use the programme portal. The link to the videos will be sent to you by email. You can also view them directly on YouTube.