Peer Networks

Learning from each other is a key part of the VCSE Academy’s approach.  

It’s also a proven method of building the capacity of individuals and organisations through collaboration, and we have supported and facilitated a number of peer networks over the years for people working in health and social care, with children and young people, exploring trading and social investment and for fundraisers.  

The VCSE Academy’s networks will continue to evolve over time in response to local priorities.   

Current Peer Networks 

  1. Sector Leaders: the Sector Leaders network is part of the city’s VCSE Strategy to develop and grow distributed leadership from grassroots communities upwards to meet strategic decisionmakers and policymakers. Currently a network of around 50 leaders from a wide range of local organisations, they meet quarterly to prioritise collective action on key issues and communicate between meetings to share intelligence and coordinate peer support on emerging needs. 
  1. Playful Bristol: a consortium of local specialists supporting play across the city, the network has grown to address the need for a strategy on behalf of children.  
  2. West of England Community Transport Network: a collaboration that brings together and strengthen the many organisations involved in community transport in the West of England, serving local people and helping them get from A to B. These organisations include community minibuses, community buildings, Shopmobility, neighbourhood groups, volunteer car schemes, and charities working with older people. 

Other active peer networks we contribute to are noted on the Voscur website. 

Future support 

During 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, two peer networks were piloted to support people working for VCSE groups across the city: 

  1. The Peer Support Network: for managers running organisations. 
  1. The Problem-Solving Network: for COVID-19 response groups, often mutual aid volunteers looking to develop into more permanent structures. 

These pilots have now ended and are being evaluated. One or both networks are likely to be reactivated again once learning to date has been incorporated into their design.