Community members in an event for community research.

Join a Learning Circle for Community Building Practitioners

What is the Learning Circle for Community Building Practitioners?

The Learning Circle brings together people who are directly working in communities, supporting residents to build connections between neighbours and encouraging community led ideas to emerge.    

Participants are encouraged to share their understanding, experiences of enabling community led action, as well as exploring challenges.  Each session is supported by an experienced facilitator, who will host specific topics and introduce practical tools and techniques to support your practice and development.

The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 8th March 2019.

Programme Structure

Circle members are invited to commit to meeting six times over a year. Each session will consist of a morning of structured facilitated activities on a specific theme, then a two-hour community of practice session. Please arrive by 9.15 for sessions to start at 9.30. Refreshments will be provided, but please don’t forget to bring your own lunch.

09.30 -12.30 Facilitated structured activities on specific topics

12.30 -13.30 Lunch break

13.30 -15.30 Community of practice

Learning Circle: Practice Development Mornings

Session 1 – Building Welcoming Communities

This initial workshop will involve building new connections through networking and sharing the experiences of group members. We’ll discuss some core principles and what they mean to ourselves and our organisations. We’ll also take the opportunity to reflect on our personal interest in community, and how we can bring our strengths and gifts to grow our communities.

Date: Tuesday 2nd April 2019

Venue: Churchdown Community Centre, Parton Rd, Churchdown, Gloucester GL3 2JH

Facilitators: Ismail Kholwadia and Jane Griffiths

Session 2 – Asset Mapping

This session introduces some tools, techniques and shared experiences that will enable you to get started in discovering the community you are serving. You will be introduced to the concept of asset mapping and why the process of doing it is even more important than the end outcome. It’s more often not about creating a map, but rather building relationships between neighbours and people in the community.

Date: Tuesday 14th May 2019

Venue: Churchdown Community Centre, Parton Rd, Churchdown, Gloucester GL3 2JH

Facilitators: Ismail Kholwadia, Jane Griffiths and Sue Price

Session 3 – Similarities and Differences/Different approaches to working with Communities

This workshop looks at the relationship between the community driven approaches of ABCD and two other approaches, Community Organising and Neighbourhood Coaching. We’ll explore where there are similarities or differences, so practitioners can maximise the most appropriate tools to use in their context.

Date: Wednesday 26th June 2019

Venue: Lindsey Room, Abbeydale Sports Community Centre, Glevum Way, Abbeydale, Gloucester, GL4 4BL

Facilitators: Ismail Kholwadia, Jane Griffiths & Neighbourhood Coaching Team

Session 4 – Power/ Good Help Bad Help – Where is the Power held?

In this workshop we’ll seek to gain a deeper understanding of how power is held and discuss the relationship between responsibility and power. We’ll explore your experiences of when ‘help’ is ‘unhelpful’ and what the successful outcomes from stepping back were. We’ll also discuss how to develop our sense of discernment, so we know when our help is needed and when it’s not.

Date: Wednesday 31st July 2019

Venue: Witcombe and Bentham Village Hall, Pillcroft Rd, Witcombe, Gloucester GL3 4TB

Facilitators: Richard Holmes, Ismail Kholwadia and Jane Griffiths

Session 5 – Community Animation

Animation is a process of how to help others run meetings and create spaces where people feel heard. It specifically seeks to address power imbalances through carefully holding the space and separating out the task, process and content of the group. Community Animators encourage and enable people to come together to shape ideas, actions, initiatives and importantly network with others so that they for themselves can unearth and build on the strengths of the community.

Date: Tuesday 3rd September 2019

Venue: The Whitefield Room, The Pavilion, Hatherley Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL51 6PN

Facilitators: Hettie Peplow, Ismail Kholwadia and Jane Griffiths

Session 6 – Thinking Big and Celebration (Shared Lunch)

This session explores how to help communities to think big, whilst recognising that every small action towards including each other makes a big difference.  During this session we’ll take inspiration from other places, where people have transformed their community through developing a shared vision and mobilising everyone to play their part. This will include stories of placemaking where residents have come together to take greater ownership of public spaces.  

Date: Tuesday 15th October 2019


Facilitators: Ismail Kholwadia, Jane Griffiths

This session might be kept flexible if the need arises from the group to discuss and learn about a certain topic which may not have been talked about previously.


A number of resources will be available to support Learning Circle members with the completion of the programme. These include:

1) A Workshop Guide for each of the 6 workshops which includes the following information:

  • Workshop overview.
  • Stories and reflective questions
  • Resources and papers on specific topics

2) A Reflective Learning Journal – to support members with the process of reflecting on and recording their observations and learning.

Learning Circle

The programme seeks to offer community development practitioners a more structured approach to learning, whilst creating flexibility to discuss practical issues that relate to the theme of the session. It seeks to build a network of practitioners, so people can turn to each other for support and guidance. The sessions seek to create the environment where practitioners feel safe and a culture of trust can be created ensuring people can be authentic with each other.

Support during the Learning Circle

The group will be encouraged to think about how members can support each other through concerns or challenging situations. The group should always be the first resource members turn to.

Responsibilities & expectations of participants

Throughout the programme Learning Circle members are invited to think about their collective values and behaviours that can contribute to shaping a unique strengths-based culture, which in turn they can take back to the communities they serve. Throughout the programme members are encouraged to think about the gifts that they want to share with others in their own communities and members of the Learning Circle.