Among the CSU's aims are the provision of good practice guidance and the promotion of voluntary regulation by societies issuing community shares. The CSU is working closely with practitioners to promote these voluntary standards through the co-ordination of a Community Shares Practitioner Network.

Becoming a licensed practitioner

We are delighted to announce the details our next Practitioner Training Programme - our dedicated community shares training course, which supports emerging practitioners to become licensed to award the Standard Mark.

Our seventh training programme involves five action learning workshops where you can apply your learning to support a client through the process of making a community share offer. We plan to hold the workshops in Birmingham with the venue to be confirmed. The dates are as follows:

  • Workshop 1 (Introduction) – 22nd November (webinar)
  • Workshop 2 (Community Engagement) – 5th December 
  • Workshop 3 (Business Model) – 9th January
  • Workshop 4 (Governance) – 6th February
  • Workshop 5 (Offer Documentation) – 13th March

 

About the assessment

To make the most of this programme you should already be working with a client which intends to launch a community share offer in the next six months.

Once you have completed the workshops, you will need to complete a client case study assignment to become a "probationary" licensed practitioner. This involves supporting your client in the development of their share offer to the point where it is awarded the Standard Mark, under supervision of the Community Shares Unit (CSU). 

You will be required to carry out an initial assessment of your client’s share offer, which will also be assessed by the CSU, given feedback on your assessment, and supervised in the support you give your client through to the award of the Standard Mark by the CSU. Typically, it will take you four to six days client work to complete this process. You will also be required to write a case study of your work supporting the client with their share offer, which may take one or two days to produce.

 

Once you’re licensed

All licensed practitioners are listed on the CSU directory, and can offer Standard Mark assessment to fee-paying clients, under the supervision of the CSU. To become a fully licenced practitioner you must complete a further three Standard Mark assessments, at least one of which must be as the lead assessor with your own fee-paying client, the other two can be peer reviews of a share offer where the CSU is the lead assessor. Opportunities to participate in peer reviews are frequently available. When you become a fully licenced practitioner you can independently award the Standard Mark without the supervision of the CSU.  You should allow at least two working days to complete a peer review, which means that together with four to six work days it takes to complete a lead review, it may take you another ten days work to become fully licenced.  

 

Costs  

The costs are dependent on the pathway you decide to take to become a Community Shares Practitioner. We're now offering three pathways to cater for individuals' circumstances and motivations for getting involved with the programme. 
 

Training Pathway

The full route, in which you participate in all the training workshops and complete all the assessments to become a fully licensed practitioner, is called the Training Pathway.

The Training Pathway fee is £3,000 + VAT per person.
 

Foundation Pathway

Alternatively, you can choose the Foundation Pathway by attending the five workshops and then satisfactorily completing a peer review of a share offer. You do not need to be working with a client group to participate on this pathway. You will be listed on the CSU directory as a "foundation practitioner” and will be recognised as having a very strong grounding of the community shares model.

The cost to participate in the Foundation Pathway is £1,000 + VAT.  

You can then, if you wish, progress to become a fully licensed practitioner by completing the Experience Pathway – explained below.
 

Experience Pathway

The Experience Pathway involves the same practitioner assessment process as the Training Pathway (client case study assignment plus three further reviews) but the practitioner does not attend the workshops.

The cost of the Experience Pathway is £2,000 + VAT or £1,750 + VAT for foundation practitioners.

 

Financial Support

We are delighted to tell you that we are offering a small number of bursaries via the Peer Network Programme which is being funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses.  You can use this bursary to fully fund either the Training Pathway or Foundation Pathway.  The bursary is for freelancers and individuals from organisations with limited training resources who are actively involved with community businesses.  

You can apply for the bursary on the application form and you will need to tell us:

  • how you are currently involved in community businesses;
  • how this will be enhanced by participating in this programme; and
  • if possible, tell us who you will be working with as a consequence of this. 

 

Interested?  

To apply to attend either via the Training or Foundation Pathway, please complete the application form which can be found here by Friday 3rd November.  All candidates applying for a bursary will be notified by 10th November as to whether you have been successful or not.

 

What is a practitioner? 

Practitioners are individuals who provide advice and guidance to communities undertaking share offers.

In 2015, the CSU introduced a licence for community shares practitioners that authorises them to award the Community Shares Standard Mark on behalf of the CSU. A licensed practitioner is someone who has been assessed by the CSU as being competent to review a society’s share offer, and licensed to award the Mark on the Unit’s behalf.

Practitioners have a wide variety of backgrounds, but all are experienced in community share offers. They might be board members, technical advisers, business plan developers or share offer document writers. Some may be experts in a particular trade sector, knowledgeable about society law, or experienced in community engagement. Whatever their background, experience and expertise, they are all committed to the principles of good practice and independent peer review, and value the contribution a second opinion can bring to the development of high quality share offers.

The CSU maintains a directory of licensed practitioners, detailing which societies a practitioner has worked with, and the services they provided.  Licensed practitioners are required to sign up to a code of practice, which includes participating in an open complaints procedure, giving both their clients and the general public the right to complain about a share offer or the work of a licensed practitioner. Under the code the CSU has the ultimate sanction of removing a practitioner’s license.  

 

Introducing the Community Shares Practitioner Network

The Community Shares Practitioner Network (CSPN) aims to support individuals and organisations who provide advice and guidance to communities undertaking share offers.

The CSPN is part of a wider peer network programme or People’s Community of Practice (CoP) funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England. It is supporting 13 community business peer networks over 18 months. Participation in the CSPN is focused on a discrete pathway towards becoming a licensed practitioner, supported through online Practitioner Meet-ups, Google discussion groups, and face-to-face training workshops. The network aims to develop practitioner expertise and the ability to support community shares.

If you are interested in joining the network, please register your interest with us and we will get in touch with you to arrange an initial introductory call to find out more about your current circumstances and plans to develop as a community shares practitioner.