Published 30th July 2020

Unleashing the Potential – The COEP Learning Report

The Community Organisers Expansion Programme (2017 - 2020) was funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Community Organisers was commissioned to deliver this Programme and Imagine were asked to be the Learning Partner throughout the Programme. This report is a compilation of that learning.

Download the Learning Report to see the full report sharing the lessons learned during the Community Organisers Expansion Programme.

Key findings

• Due to the Programme’s timeframe, and delay in starting, it had a hurried start and also was set up by a new organisation, so structures and processes need to be evolved alongside the action in the first months. Some of the social action hubs were also fairly new organisations and were also developing their own systems.

• Despite this, the COEP has done what it was funded to do, developing a robust training package and training just under 4000 people in community organising.

• Its design of delivering through hubs helped to ensure that the training was locally embedded.

• It also provided much valued training to a wider range of organisations who saw an opportunity to enhance their work through community organising.

• Its approach of listening, reaching out, and connecting people has built the capacity of residents to respond to a wide variety of local issues, most recently demonstrated in the COVID-19 crisis.

• It has established a strong reputation in localities where it operates and has helped to foster co-ordination and peer support.

• It has provided a framework for local action  that can both harness initial energy and enthusiasm and build this in the long-term.

• In some areas it has provided a strong foundation for community enterprise development.

• Action has been locally rooted but there is also clear evidence of the value of a national network.

Learning from the Programme demonstrates the importance of:

  • Long-term investment
  • Devolution – enabling local residents to take the lead
  • Mutuality
  • Linking training to action, so that each reinforces the other
  • Making space for informality so that initial enthusiasm is not quashed.
  • Avoiding predetermined outcomes

Community Organisers have published two reports from the Community Organisers Expansion Programme. Both can be downloaded here:

The COEP Full Programme Report

Stories of Action

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