New website to support community learning volunteers

27 March 2014

A new website to support community learning volunteers has been launched by NIACE, designed for anyone who works with and supports volunteers in community learning contexts, and volunteers themselves.

The Community Learning Champions National Support Programme website includes a wealth of information, materials and resources to share good practice and encourage adoption of the supported volunteer approach among community learning providers across the public, private and Third sectors.

It provides open access to a wide range of materials including toolkits for Community Learning Champions (CLCs) and scheme co-ordinators; a training pack (with the potential for accreditation); case studies and examples of effective practice; links to other learning and volunteering programmes and support organisations; and a national register of schemes and active CLCs. An interactive map highlights active local schemes and organisations can register their learning and volunteering activity to let others know about their work and promote local networking. Registered initiatives can access and use the nationally recognised CLC brand and badge.

Helen Plant, Acting Head of Learning in Communities at NIACE, said:

“Volunteering is an increasingly important feature of learning in communities. Evidence consistently shows that where volunteering and learning are developed in an integrated way, it produces better outcomes for individuals. Volunteering gives adults opportunities to learn and practise new skills. It helps to increase independence, raise self-esteem and develop a range of qualities that make them both more effective community activists and more employable.

“However, we also know that, for these benefits to be realised, volunteers need appropriate training, support and development. Since its launch in 2009, the Community Learning Champions National Support Programme has helped the development of high quality volunteering opportunities across the community learning sector. This new website and resources build on that heritage. It will make the Support Programme more accessible and effective, to reflect the central place of volunteering in learning, and the breadth and diversity of volunteering roles that adult learners undertake in their communities.”

The Community Learning Champions National Support Programme is managed by NIACE and is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The Programme’s work is overseen by a consortium that includes NIACE, BIS, Workers’ Education Association, Unionlearn and Workbase Training. The programme is continuously evolving to reflect the changing context for learning and volunteering.