A peek into the Community Shares Booster programme and panel

A warm hello to everyone!

We are always on the look out for interesting and relevant stories, case studies and opportunities to share with colleagues and supporters. With this in mind, we recently connected with the team who manage the Community Shares Booster programme.

Alice Wharton, Programme Manager for the Booster Programme has kindly prepared a short piece explaining what the programme is about and also takes a peek into the panel, highlighting some of the things the panel looks for from applicants.  If you are interested and want to know more, then please read on!  You can find out more including details of how to apply here: https://communitysharesbooster.org.uk/

A peek into the Community Shares Booster Panel by Alice Wharton, Programme Manager

The Community Shares Booster Programme is a five-year programme that has already been hugely popular just months after it was launched. Over a quarter of a million pounds of grant has been requested to support the launch of community shares offers and almost six million pounds of equity investment has been requested!

We have been astounded by the range of projects that have submitted their ideas to the Booster Programme over the last 12 months and we would like to share some insights from the Booster Panel meetings where we decide whether we can support the applications that have been submitted. From lidos to bookshops, skate parks to historic wool mills, we’ve read them all with intrigue and an appreciation of the dedication of the people involved.

This is a great sign for how the community shares funding mechanism has struck a chord with community groups who want to create thriving and sustainable businesses with the involvement and support of their communities.

However, like all support programmes, we do not have infinite budgets and so we have had to whittle down the applications to the ones that most closely fit the Booster criteria.

The Panel is often asked about how we choose the projects to support and so we’d like to give you some top tips if you are thinking of applying.

The key things that we look at are:

  • Is the project intending to use community shares and does it meet Power to Change’s definition of a community business? This means that the business will be locally-rooted, accountable to the local community and trade for the benefit of the community as a whole. You can read more about this definition on the Power to Change’s website.
  • Is the project in an area of deprivation or where the use of community shares is under-represented? We want to support communities, especially more disadvantaged groups, that are facing a series of challenges during the share offer which prevents them meeting their targets or proceeding with the venture due to external factors.
  • What will be the impact of the community business? We want to hear from community businesses that aim to have a highly positive impact on the local area, the local community and their user or clients. How are you getting lots of different people involved and coming together to make your communities even better places to live, work and play.
  • How viable is the business idea? We need to see that you have thoroughly thought through the business plan and have a good understanding of what you need to do over the next 10+ years to make it a sustainable and thriving business. You can apply for grant funding to get expertise to refine your business plan and how to make community shares funding a solid part of this, but we want to see that you have already made a lot of progress and you are very close to launching your share offer.
  • Is there any innovation? The Booster Programme is as much a learning programme as a funding programme and so we want to use this opportunity to develop our understanding of how community shares can be used in many different ways to support community development. We have provided some ideas about how you could build innovative ideas into your share offer in our guidance notes on Investment Propositions but you may have some more ideas of your own. We’d love to hear your ideas at any point, even before you submit an application, so get in touch.

So far we have supported 29 groups with over £200K of grants to help with their share offer launches and another £1.1M of equity invested into 18 community businesses across England.

For case studies on some of the organisations funded through the programme visit www.communitysharesbooster.org.uk/stories

We can’t wait to receive more of your applications in 2019 and to keep on boosting community businesses through community shares!

Alice Wharton, Co-operatives UK


Community Engagement and Volunteering Workshop in Sheffield 30 April 2019

The Community Managed Libraries (CML) Peer Network is hosting a workshop in Community Engagement and Volunteering on 30th of April 2019 at the Sheffield Library.  The session will be facilitated by Peter Ranken from the Archibald Corbett Community Library and other CML Peer Network colleagues.

The session uses real life learning, case examples, group exercises and best practice from community managed libraries and elsewhere. It shares tools and strategies for effective community engagement; walks you through the volunteering resource developed by Archibald Corbett and some resources from the Libraries Taskforce, and covers approaches to recruiting, developing, sustaining volunteers plus some succession management strategies. The session also explores ways to embed diversity and inclusion into community engagement and volunteering activities.

A short Network Meeting will be held at the end of the session to introduce you to the Community Managed Libraries Peer Network, some of the work we are doing/planning, our evolving membership programme and how to get involved.

The session is Free and you can book your place through Eventbrite using this link:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cml-peer-network-workshop-in-community-engagement-and-volunteeringfree-tickets-59234721647 

We look forward to welcoming as many of you to our Workshop and Network Meeting.


Libraries Taskforce Evaluation Workshops

The Libraries Taskforce is running a series of workshops on evaluations facilitated by The Audience Agency, a national audience development consultancy and independent not-for-profit organisation, these workshops will support you in building an understanding of:

  • what evaluation is (and what it isn’t!)
  • why evaluation is important
  • how it can help you achieve your aims
  • how to do it effectively

Using presentation of good practice and case studies, discussions and shared learning, and creative task-based exercises, the workshops will address the challenges and explore the benefits of embedding evaluation in the work of libraries, including strategic planning and project delivery.


  • 18 March – Exeter Library (Rougemont Room)
  • 22 March – Newcastle City Library (Bewick Hall)
  • 27 March – Idea Store Whitechapel, London (Conference Room)

Sessions run from 10.00-16.00 (with a start time of 10.30 to allow for registration and for everyone to get a coffee and network beforehand). Lunch and refreshments will also be provided – when booking your place on eventbrite please make sure to include any dietary requirements.

To Book:  register via the Eventbrite pages.  If you have any further queries about the events, please email librariestaskforce@culture.gov.uk.

The Bright Ideas Fund is now Live

The Bright Ideas Fund supports new community business ideas through the start-up and planning stages with tailored business support, to the implementation stage with grants of up to £15,000.

The Bright Ideas Fund is funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, and delivered by Locality, the national network for community organisations, in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK.

The Fund is now open for applications, closing on Tuesday 9 April 2019.

There will be additional funding rounds in:
• August – September 2019,
• February 2020 – April 2020,
• August – September 2020,
• February 2021 – March 2021.

Bright Ideas Fund webinar

To understand what the Community Business Bright Ideas Fund is about and whether you can apply, why not join the Webinar on Wednesday 13 March 2019 from 11am – 12pm. Use the link below to register for the webinar: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4785341082201677579

The webinar will run through what the programme offers, the criteria, application process, it will also have examples of what has been funded in previous rounds.

Sean Kelly, Regional Development Officer, Libraries Taskforce, Arts Council England blogs on his new role and what this means for community-managed libraries

You may be aware that in December 2018 the management of the Libraries Taskforce’s activity transferred from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to Arts Council England as the development agency for libraries. As part of this transition, a new role of Regional Development Officer was created, and I was seconded into the post just before the Christmas break.

My role is designed to help improve the regional support available to the sector and to ensure all libraries have access to someone at the Taskforce/the Arts Council who can assist them. Working closely with the CML peer network is crucial to making sure community-managed libraries have the same access to this support as other library services.

There is an enormous quantity of resources, toolkits and guidance available. From a good practice toolkit that is useful for groups that are just beginning to investigate the possibility of starting a community-managed library, to the guidance an established service needs to review when considering an application to the Arts Council National Lottery Projects Grants programme. However, it takes time and resource to find this information, something that is not always in ready supply in library services. I’m eager for community managed libraries and groups that are considering different delivery models to see me as a quick and easy way to access helpful information.

Community Managed Libraries are an expanding part of the library ecology. These libraries are run by passionate advocates for the benefits that libraries can have on communities. They face many challenges and it will be essential to help them overcome them. I have met with the peer network in the first few weeks of my new role and it is clear that working together will help them both to resolve those challenges and realise their potential. I look forward to helping them do this.

Using a wider lens, at the Arts Council, we are working closely with key library stakeholders to maximise the opportunities for collaboration and to enable a joined-up approach in exploring the future of public libraries. These strong partnerships, particularly with CILIP and Libraries Connected, are ensuring that resources are being shared widely and used effectively.

I’m sure I will be speaking to many of you soon. In the meantime, please get in touch with me via email: CommunityLibs@unlt.org if there is anything you think I can help with.


Funding Opportunities

Sport England Small Grants – Need a little bit extra to help more people get active in your community? You can apply for grants from £300 to £10,000 to make it happen. Ongoing.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund – Grants of up to £50,000 available for rural projects across the UK. Projects must provide a long-term positive impact to the individuals & communities they seek to benefit. Apply by 21 February.

Partnerships funding – £10,000 available for organisations which work together with a shared set of goals and values. The National Lottery Community Fund are interested in hearing your ideas, whether they’re big or small! Ongoing.

Bright Ideas:   The new £3.2m Bright Ideas Fund will open for applications from Tuesday 26 February!  The Fund supports new community business ideas through the start-up and planning stages with tailored business support, to the implementation stage with grants of up to £15,000.

The Bright Ideas Fund is funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, and delivered by Locality, the national network for community organisations, in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK.   You can start reading the guidance notes to check your eligibility, and register for a webinar to understand what it’s all about and whether you can apply.  CLICK to Find out more

Funder news

Big Lottery Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund have recently refreshed their brands.

  • The Big Lottery Fund changed its name to The National Lottery Community Fund.
  • Heritage Lottery Fund will now be known as The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The announcement of the new identities comes ahead of the unveiling of the next strategic National Lottery Funding Framework, that sets out priorities for the next five years.  It’s a new chapter for both, but much of the work they do remains the same. Find out all about the changes.


Data Protection in a No Deal Brexit – the action you need to take

The UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019.  If there is no deal in place, this would impact how organisations exchange personal data.

Although the UK’s own data protection standards would remain the same (the GDPR will come into our domestic law), there would be changes to how personal data transfers from the EU/EEA to the UK how this could affect your organisation.

It is important for organisations, as a priority, to review whether they would be affected. For those that would be affected, early action is advisable, given changes may take some time to implement. Practical advice and support is available here, including ‘Six Steps to Take’ to help you understand the implications and prepare.

Other information on how leaving the EU may affect your organisation, and what you can do to get ready, is available here.

New deadline to submit your feedback on the Community Asset Transfer Research – now 15 February 2019

The deadline for submitting your feedback to the Power to Change and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Sheffield Hallam University research on assets in community ownership has now been extended to 15th of February 2019.

The project leads are keen to ensure community libraries are represented, and appreciate your support in completing the short survey to share your experiences. As a thank you for completing the survey you will be able to enter a prize a draw to win one of two £100 high street vouchers for your library. The survey should take less than 10 minutes. It may help to have access to your latest financial accounts to help you with some of the questions; though estimates are also accepted for ease of completion.

Complete the questionnaire online at:  Bit.ly/CommunityAssetSurvey

If you have any question please contact Catherine Harris via email (c.h.harris@shu.ac.uk) or telephone (0114 225 6113).

Thank you.


Please tell us about the financial health of your community owned asset!


Power to Change and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government have commissioned Sheffield Hallam University to conduct research on assets in community ownership so that they can understand and better support the sector.

To make sure that community libraries are represented, we would be very grateful if you could complete this short survey to share your experiences. As a thank you for completing the survey you will be able to enter a prize a draw to win one of two £100 high street vouchers for your library.

The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. It may help to have access to your latest financial accounts to help you with some of the questions; though estimates are also accepted for ease of completion.

Complete the questionnaire online at:  Bit.ly/CommunityAssetSurvey

The information you provide will be used by Sheffield Hallam University in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, GDPR and other applicable legislation. The information will only be used to understand provide research on assets in community ownership. Your information will not be shared with any other party, without your permission,and we will maintain your anonymity in any reporting. For more information please see our privacy policy.

If you have any questions or issues when completing the survey please contact Cathy Harris via email (c.h.harris@shu.ac.uk) or telephone (0114 225 6113).

Arts Council Consultation – ends 2 January 2019

We hope you had an enjoyable Christmas and a big Welcome to 2019.

Many of you may already be aware of the Arts Council’s consultations which started in October 2018. The consultations end tomorrow – 2nd of January 2019.

A quick reminder to add your voice to the consultation document (https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/nexttenyears), to ensure the voice and needs of community managed libraries are fully embedded in their new strategy for 2020 – 2030.

Please note forthcoming learning events – the next session on Bid Writing is on 30th of January – remember to book a place now.

Wishing you all an enjoyable and successful 2019.