Community Exchanges are regular, community - led events that bring people together, provide services and information and reduce social isolation. ACT has produced guidance for communities looking to start up their own Exchange.
Crosthwaite Exchange started in 2006 in response to the closure of the village shop and Post Office. Bolton Exchange opened for the same reason in 2008. Since then a number of other Exchanges have opened in Cumbria, with support from ACT and funding from various partners over the years.
In most cases the Exchanges have been established to bring the community together rather than in response to a specific event such as a shop closure. Many communities already have coffee mornings, village hall pub nights and other events to bring people together, which fulfil some of the same purposes as an Exchange. We have defined a Community Exchange as a project which:
- Brings the community together, particularly people who might not otherwise meet.
- Reduces isolation for residents who may feel 'cut off" from the community.
- Provides services (i.e. an opportunity to shop, socialise, access health care or learn about public services)
Groups looking to start an Exchange, or Community Cafe might also find ACT Guidance Sheets and Workbooks useful, covering topics such as establishing a group, sustainable funding, writing a budget, and working with volunteers.