Power to Change backs Stir to Action Beyond Here Fellowship

Selected fellows will work with community leaders to explore the pressures that come with their involvement in the community business sector

Worker-owned magazine Stir to Action has launched a small grants programme to fund fellows to undertake place-based research.

Supported by independent trust Power to Change, the fellowship programme aims to connect people and places with new economic models and approaches across the UK.

Selected Beyond Here fellows will explore different approaches to wellbeing within community leadership.

“Community business leaders do not always think of themselves as leaders and discover their leadership role changes over time,” said Fergus Arkley, development manager at Power to Change.

“Recognising yourself as a community leader can have profound positive effects, but the experience of leadership can also be challenging and isolating under the pressure of realising a challenging business model and serving the needs of your community.”

As part of the scheme, the fellows will work closely with community leaders across the UK to explore these challenges and discover models for reducing, managing, and preventing the pressures that come with their involvement within the community business sector. They will receive support from Stir to Action’s Beyond Here Fellowship coordinator Stephanie Gamauf to find community business partners, undertake place-based research, and share their learnings through Stir to Action’s quarterly magazine and events programme.

“While mental health and wellbeing are rightly becoming a priority for communities and businesses across the UK, there is still pressure for communities to always put their best face forward, even when they’re experiencing massive challenges,” said Stir to Action’s director Jonny Gordon-Farleigh.

“We believe that this fellowship will initially build more awareness and also support individuals and communities to more effectively share new and inspiring approaches across the UK.”

Applications for the fellowship open today (16 July) and close on 1 September. Stir to Action is offering four fellowship grants of £2,000, which will fund a weeklong fellowship and cover loss of earnings, accommodation, and a host contribution. To qualify, applicants have to be active members of a community business.

“There is a real risk of burnout, stress, and anxiety in the community business world as people take on hugely ambitious projects,” said Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change. “It is really important that community businesses look after the mental health and wellbeing of people working and volunteering within them. To do this well, it is crucial to really understand their needs and challenges, and this important piece of work will help to do that.”