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.

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. 


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.  


Becoming a licensed practitioner

Practitioners apply to become a licensed practitioner through either the Experience or Training Route.

  • To follow the Experience Route you must have already worked with a society making a community share offer, and be able to identify and describe the client support you provided. The assessment fee is £1,000+VAT per person.
  • The Training Route requires you to attend five workshops, and to apply what you learn to a client society which is planning to make a community share offer. The course and assessment fee is £2,000+VAT per person.

Regardless of which route you take, you will be assessed in the same way by completing the client case study assignment. This assignment focuses on the support you have provided to a client society making a share offer. It can be a historical case, or a live case.  

Experienced practitioners can contact us at any point to begin their assessment to become licensed. Please complete this application form.

Our next practitioner training programme will take place in November 2017 - we will release details in due course.