Swop Shop Skill Share Network Workshop Empowers Community Collaboration

Thank you so much to everyone who attended our introductory Swop Shop Skill Share event held last week at the Vale of Lune Rugby Club, Lancaster, and for making it a success. A diverse range of community organisations came together in an atmosphere of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge exchange, all prompted by the evaluation feedback received from delegates at our inaugural FestiVOL and 50th anniversary event last November.

You asked for more opportunities to exchange resources skills, knowledge, and best practice, and expressed a need for time spent together and face to face networking. Everyone gathered with creative enthusiasm, ready to tackle challenges and share ideas resulting in a day filled with productive discussions and fruitful outcomes.

We began with an engaging “Who’s in the Room” activity, breaking the ice and setting the stage for meaningful connections followed by an opportunity to network freely during the share market session, exchanging valuable information about respective services, literature, and promotional materials.  A choice of three Skill Share Swop Shop sessions then opened up deeper conversations based on identified key themes: Volunteer Recruitment, Marketing & Communications, and Safeguarding Policy Development. The discussions were vibrant and engaging, with attendees contributing their resources, insights, and innovative solutions.

During the workshop breakaway, an “Open Space Technology” segment allowed participants to explore an additional topic of interest, with Health & Safety being the chosen focus area. The room buzzed with progressive energy, aptly described by Sharon, the event’s lead, as a “HIVE MIND.” This concept, popularised by an Internet search engine giant, encapsulates the essence of the day—a collective and unified community working towards a stronger and more sustainable sector.

The tips, insights and ideas were bouncing between participants and the workshops brought to light a number of areas requiring support and guidance. Discovery outcomes were varied…

Volunteer Centre Manager Mark Waddington leading the Volunteer Recruitment workshop said “One of the really valuable things about being able to come together to discuss things like this is realising that it isn’t just you, that other people from other organisations are experiencing the same challenges, having the same conversations with themselves, and dealing with the same issues. Knowing that is a giant step towards resolving a lot, and a brilliant way to share in each other’s successes.” 

Communications Officer, Steve Dixon leading the Marketing & Comunications workshop commented “With an increasingly digital landscape in today’s communications, with limited resources and time constraints within the voluntary sector, there is an overwhelming need to streamline your communications strategy. The workshop highlighted a diverse range of digital challenges from uncertainty of social media content creation to identifying online target audiences showing a clear swell of interest in getting the right combination of tools and how to apply them.”

We would like to extend a special thanks to Becky Davenport, Adult & Community Manager, and Rebecca Blackburn, Creative Marketing Lead, both representing Lancaster & Morecambe College. Their participation enriched the event, contributing to its overall success.

Looking ahead, we are excited to announce that the next Swop Shop Skill Share Network Workshop is already in the works. We eagerly anticipate the continued participation and engagement of our dedicated community members. Future events will include masterclass sessions by guest speakers from across the Public, Private and Voluntary Sector to keep us informed of projects, ideas, funding, resources training and more. 

Stay tuned for updates on our next Swop Shop Skill Share Network event. As we move forward we aim to forge an even more collaborative and supportive network and ecosystem, sharing best practices and building a more vibrant, stronger and sustainable sector.