Peer supporters sought to help rural community groups

Norfolk Rural Community Council (Norfolk RCC) is setting up a new volunteer Peer Support Network to help rural community groups across the county.

The network will complement the work of Norfolk RCC’s community development team by providing the sort of expertise and insight that can only come from people with specialist knowledge or first-hand experience of doing things.
Chief executive officer Jonathan Clemo explained: “This is an exciting new project for us that will enhance the services we already provide to Norfolk’s rural communities in helping them identify and address their various needs.
“Our experience over many years of working with a wide range of community groups is that they really appreciate the input of someone who has already done similar things and that’s where the idea for the network came from.”
Project leader Henry Meiklejohn is recruiting the peer supporters and setting up the network. He is looking for people who are community-minded and have either been involved in developing or delivering community projects or have other expertise they would be willing to share with people in other communities.
To indicate the sort of knowledge and experience needed, Mr Meiklejohn gave the example of a community looking to build a new village hall: “Typically, a project like this will need people with a variety of skills to make it happen.”
The sorts of know-how needed include how to set up, register and run a charity, chair meetings, take minutes, do accounts, plan and manage projects, undertake consultations, draw up business plans, do fundraising and apply for grants, liaise with architects, consult with local authority planners, and identify potential builders and suppliers and obtain quotes.
Continuing the village hall theme, Mr Meiklejohn added that once the hall is built, the charity trustees will often need ongoing support from people who know about such things as charity governance, employing people, health and safety, policy development, child and vulnerable adult protection, and licensing rules.
He stressed: “It’s not just about village halls though. All sorts of other community projects will potentially need people with these sorts of skills. So the intention is to set up a pool of volunteers who can give a bit of extra support to help groups achieve their ambitions.”
The subject areas in which Norfolk RCC is seeking expertise are wide, and how much of a commitment individual volunteers make would be up to them, but training is provided and expenses paid.
If you are an “expert by experience” and want to make a difference in Norfolk’s communities, please contact Henry Meiklejohn on 01362 698216 or email: