Policy areas

Networks, Support & Advocacy

Networks and support organisations have a key role to play in strengthening and building the capacity of land-based social enterprises. They provide access to things that practitioners often find it difficult to obtain, such as information, markets, and advocacy. Moreover, networks are important to innovative projects as they make it easier to draw on a wider ranges of skills and resources. However, several challenges exist to creating, accessing and maintaining these support systems.

Key issues:

  • Creating and maintaining networks and relationships requires a specific skill set, one that even experienced practitioners are rarely trained in.
  • Sustaining networks and support organisations requires resources and capacity. Engaging practitioners can also be challenging, especially when there the direct short-term benefits are not clear.
  • Where support does exist, it is often focused on specific sub-sectors such as community food growing. This can mean a lack of resources and structures for collaborating outside these silos on cross-cutting issues
  • Conflicts around values, ideals, goals, representation, governance, funding and alliances can derail attempts at collaboration.
Different land-based sectors face many similar issues. Working together, these groups could identify and campaign on shared policy goals.

What needs to change:

  1. Internal conflicts need to be understood and dealt with as a core part of engagement with diverse groups. There need to be better governance structures and facilitators, and clarity of shared aims, objectives and values.
  2. Practitioners need to acknowledge the value of network and relationship-building across different sectors, embrace strategic and identify support needs.
  3. Support organisations can help practitioners hone their network-building skills. Projects like Power to Change’s Peer Networks programme can help organisations’ develop the necessary skills to create strong and sustainable networks.
  4. Funders can support collaboration between organisations by funding collaborative projects.
  5. Public commissioning should actively support networks to coordinate bids from smaller land-based social enterprises

Our projects

Further resources

Scroll down to the posts below to read the latest updates on our work in this policy area.

Want to keep up to date?

If so you can sign up to the Shared Assets newsletter for free and we'll send you an email once a month with our latest news and thoughts. Don't worry though - we'll never clog up your inbox with spam or pass your details onto other companies - we hate that stuff too.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related publications

Research reports and publications written by the Shared Assets team

Related news and opinion

Blog articles, news and opinion pieces from the Shared Assets team

Can networks join up land activism?

Power to Change’s Peer Networks programme is now in full swing. As we learn more and more about how to run sustainable, effective networks, we’re beginning to apply this knowledge to various aspects of our work with land. First, we look at how diverging identities, values and purposes affect networks of land activists.

Read more

Better Land Based Economies

Community food enterprises are a success story of local collective action and have the potential to make significant contributions to local economic resilience. However despite its success, and the existence of some supportive policy drivers, the sector faces barriers to realising its full potential.

Read more

Networks promote land-based social enterprise

In our work with land-based social enterprises, we often hear about the value of networks.  To develop the sector, organisations need to make connections, promote their work and learn from each other. Many also need to grow supply chains and customer bases to be sustainable. This blog explores the role of networks in the sector, and argues for a broader ‘joined up’ approach across it.

Read more

8 ways to create common good land use

On December 8th we hosted an event about exploring people’s roles in ‘Creating Common Good Land Use’. We learned a lot and this blog introduces some of the strategies we are planning to adopt in response.

Read more

We love to explore and discuss land-use topics, so don't be shy - join us online and let us know all about your ideas and issues!