Community Leaders Programme 2011 Report

Last year The Men’s Network worked with local businessman Toby Buckle to develop a training programme to develop community leaders. The following post provides a review of the that programme and what was achieved.


The Community Leaders Programme (CLP) is an experiential training initiative that is designed to develop leaderships skills through volunteering. Over a three month period participants develop an deliver a community project that enables them to take classroom-based learning and apply it real life situations.

What do we mean by leadership?

The CLP is designed to develop participants’ ability to turn problems into solutions and take responsibility for delivering these solutions. Although the vehicle for this activity is a community project, the programme is not about learning project management skills. What the CLP does is give people the ability to develop their leadership skills by discovering what it takes for them to to make things happen.


  • 3 x 6 hour classroom-based workshops
  • 13 x 20 minute phone coaching sessions provided by volunteer coaches
  • Participants commit additional time to lead their project
  • Participants inspire others to support the delivery of their project

Key Skills Learnt

Participants will leave the programme with:

  • First-hand experience of taking on a leadership role
  • An understanding of how to create a vision that unites and inspires people
  • A greater ability to work effectively with a broad range of different people
  • Knowledge of how to operate in alignment with organisational values
  • Knowledge of how to set goals that really make a difference
  • Greater ability to plan, organize and manage
  • New skills in resource management and an ability to attract and harness free resources
  • New levels of personal motivation and an ability to motivate others
  • Practical experience of applying persuasion and influence techniques
  • New levels of confidence in their own ability to make things happen

Success Stories

The Community Leaders Programme was piloted in Summer/Autumn 2010 with 15 participants including:

Ryan Walshe, a young autistic man who came within three weeks of dying of testicular cancer and wanted warn other men about the disease. Ryan was so anxious about talking with strangers that he brought his mum and girlfriend with him to his first meeting for support. Since doing the CLP, Ryan has set up a project called Talking Testicles and delivered cancer awareness talks to around 3,000 teenagers in Brighton & Hove. Dr Christian Jessen, presenter of Embarrassing Bodies, has recognized the value of his voluntary project:

“I cannot congratulate you enough on what you are doing to raise awareness of testicular cancer and help others. People reading your story will be inspired and reassured, and I am proud and delighted to be a very small part of your journey. Keep up the good work!”

In March 2012 Ryan was awarded  £1,100 from People Can to develop his Talking Testicles campaign and raised around £500 through his own fundraising efforts.

Jacqui Clark, a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, came on the CLP committed to helping more people connect with the adults in her care. She created an ingenious project that harnessed a mixture of free resources to make a difference. She engaged the men in her care to be part of a volunteer project to raise awareness of difficult issues’ that affect men and boys.

National charities including The ManKind Initiative (a domestic violence charity for male victims), Men Get Eating Disorders Too and NORM UK (which campaigns against non-medical circumcision) donated case studies the project. Jacqui then worked with her volunteers to create origami fortune tellers, with the case studies and contact details about the charities inside.

In the run up to International Men’s Day, Jacqui and her team of men with Learning Disabilities visited venues like transport cafes, barbers and betting shops to meet men in their community and hand them one of the fortune tellers.

In the longer term Jacqui aims to set up Dandelion Stories as a not-for-profit venture and aims to build connections with a network of daycare centres and support more men and women with Learning Disabilities to volunteer and connect with their local communities in future.

Ian Gutsell and Jason Robinson are friends and fathers living in Whitehawk, one of the most deprived areas of the Brighton & Hove where around 50% of children are growing up in lone parent families. Ian and Jason came on the programme to help him set up a Whitehawk Superdads group in his area. The aim of the group is to support dads and other male carers and role models who want to be more involved in their children’s lives.

Whilst on the course Ian helped organize a softball tournament, a beach volleyball tournament, a summer barbecue, a sponsored walk and a Halloween party. Ian and Jason’s Whitehawk Superdads group is now run by committee and they have secured more than £1,000 in funding to grow and develop the group.

David Allistone an art school graduate came on the CLP to start a social art project with male victims of crime. Despite struggling find participants and becoming a dad of twins during the programme, David was supported to develop and adapt his project.

Since completing the CLP he has set up a social enterprise Exploring Senses and is working on projects with families, young people at the Brighton Youth Centre and homeless men and women at Emmaus UK.

In March 2012 Exploring Senses was one of the winning projects at Brighton City Camp 2 winning £1,500 funding for a new project called the Brighter Social Centre.

Andy Stiller is a local wheelchair user who wanted to improve access for people in Brighton & Hove. During the CLP he developed a website called Disability Advice for people to share information, advice and resources linked to accessibility issues in the city.

Other Projects

Other community projects created on the CLP pilot included:

Some Key Statistics

As a result of the pilot CLP we estimate:

  • 15 participants developed their leadership skills and abilities
  • 5 volunteers developed their coaching skills and provided 60 hours of free coaching
  • 100 volunteers were inspired to help with the projects
  • 9 ongoing projects were created
  • More that 1,000 members of the public benefitted

Some Feedback

“I got some great coaching and picked up some great stuff. It was light, informative, fun and challenging”

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to lots of people. I got lots of self development and I’m now getting more working with interesting people.”

“I met loads of new people and now understand how I can make the most improvement in my life”.



Glen Poole is UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, Director at the consultancy Helping Men and news editor of insideMAN magazine. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at

Posted in NEWS
3 comments on “Community Leaders Programme 2011 Report
  1. […] from last year’s programme have gone on to generate more than £6,000 of funding for local community projects in Brighton […]

  2. […] For those interested in what it takes to inspire more men to take action and volunteer our short report on the barriers that men face to volunteering is ready to read here now. And you may also be interested to read about The Men’s Network’s Community Leaders Programme that trains participants to mobilize volunteers in pursuit of a common objective – read more here. […]

  3. […] to take part in the next Community Leaders Programme then why not join us this Tuesday evening or CLICK HERE NOW for more […]

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