Local economies Skills

The workshops causing a real stir

At the end of last year, Stir to Action launched their national programme of one day workshops, bringing training and inspiration to people who want to transform their local area and economy. To enable Big Local residents to benefit from this offer Local Trust have sponsored 15 places!

The workshops are being held across the country and cover a range of topics, from focussing on alternative models of ownership in communities to introducing concepts such as community wealth building and creative ways to engage your community.

Dan Crowe, a partnership member in Whitley Bay Big Local took up a sponsored place and attended two workshops, here he offers his take on a session that looked at community business.

“With Whitley Bay looking to our legacy and planning to follow the community business approach for the community hub that we are working to purchase and our plans for community-owned beach huts, this was exactly the workshop I needed!

Setting up a community business is the approach we want to take to make our activities more sustainable over the long term, for residents in the Big Local area to feel a greater sense of ownership, and for us to be  really accountable to them and the local area. Plus, we think it’s the only way to be sustainable and get away from grant dependency. But setting up a community business is no easy feat –  it involves a new way of thinking and working, it might ultimately involve creating a new entity, that’s going to be competing for peoples’ attention, and it is a big proposition for a voluntary group compared to the other projects we have run.

The session was a real motivator for me and gave me the confidence to get going with business planning. The trainer, Mark Simmonds, gave a high-level overview into community business and then took us through the journey of setting up a community business. I now have a roadmap of the things we need to do, and ideas for business planning, marketing and key components of feasibility planning for our idea.

Mark’s teaching style was really good, he was a great imparter of knowledge and an expert in community ownership models. The event was also a really good opportunity to meet other people engaged in this area locally, I met a really good contact who I think can further our work.

I think more support and practical help from Local Trust to enable Big Local areas to explore sustainable community business models should they want to go down this path would be very welcome as we enter the second half of this amazing experiment in local, resident-led community action.”

Dan attended the ‘Community ownership: how to get started’ &  the ‘Community wealth building: Building an economy for all’  workshops. To find out more about Stir to Action workshops, visit the Stir to Action website and to take up a sponsored place, contact Georgie Burr at Local Trust.