You might not have thought about opening up a space before or you may lack information about how to do it or have concerns about legal issues.
Many organisations are already providing space for all sorts of learning and have been doing so for many years.
In a recent survey carried out as part of the project to develop this guide, the types of learning reported as taking place included circus training, arts and craft, and work-related training. Most respondents had a meeting room that they opened either regularly or now and again.
Groups using the spaces varied from clubs and societies such as a Beekeepers’ Association, to supported housing residents associations and voluntary groups.
- For almost half of the organisations completing the survey a key motivation for opening up spaces for adult learning was that it was part of their remit or role in the community or it was part of their corporate social responsibility. “It is our desire as an organisation to be a greater part of the community.”
- Opening up a space for adult learning is good for your profile and image in your local community. It can help to increase people’s awareness of the wider goods and services you offer.
- Providing a free or low cost space for adult learning can enhance your reputation and strengthen your “licence to operate” amongst the local community. “It’s helped to boost our public image and we’ve built good relationships with the organisations using the space, which has raised our profile.”
- If your organisation carries out a self assessment using a recognised quality framework, it is likely that this includes indicators that seek to measure your impact on the local community. Opening up a space for adult learning can demonstrate positively your impact on the local community for self assessment and quality processes.
- If your organisation rents its premises from the local authority, there may be specific terms in your contract which says that you have to make some of that space (e.g. meeting rooms) available for use by local groups. Opening up a space for adult learning can help you to meet contractual requirements to involve and contribute to your local community.
- The aim of the open space movement is to make learning venues available at low or no cost. It is unlikely that opening up spaces to adult learning groups and clubs will be a significant source of additional revenue. Nevertheless, you should be able to cover the costs and if necessary generate a small surplus whilst still keeping charges to a minimum. “The building is put to better use; it has improved our profile …. and it brings in an income!”
- You may find other benefits that spin off from getting closer to your local community, including recruiting volunteers or finding potential employees. “On several occasions opening up space for learning has helped when we’ve wanted to recruit new volunteers.”
- If you want to increase the number of people visiting your organisation opening up a space for learning may increase customers or visitors. ”If they visit as part of a learning opportunity, it is more likely that they will return again with friends or family.”