The power of learning: 5 community groups educating outside the classroom


Each year on 24th January the world celebrates the power of learning on the International Day of Education. Although we typically think of classrooms full of children when we think of education, actually, we know how much meaningful learning happens outside of the classroom and in the community. We’re showcasing some amazing community groups that do good through the power of learning.

Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind. UNESCO

Throughout our lives so many of us require and desire training, support and new skills to help us move through the changing challenges of life. And so often it’s community groups and organisations who are providing the opportunities and support to help us bridge these skills gaps in affordable and accessible ways.

Here we shine a light on 5 community groups and organisations who are using education as a tool to support their local communities. From primary schoolers to their grandparents, these organisations are creating learning opportunities for those that need them.

Oxford Hub, Oxford

Oxford Hub has rightfully noticed that “Language barriers can lead to isolation and entrench existing inequalities by restricting people’s ability to participate in their community, access services, find work and support their children”. Their “FELLOW” programme is a volunteer-run initiative connecting local students and residents with individuals in need of affordable English lessons.

There are benefits to everyone involved! Both teachers and students gain new skills, gain confidence and create social bonds, reinforcing the community.
Through the Freeman Fund on ActionFunder, the organisation secured funding to buy IT equipment to respond to the needs of online learning and more!

three people are sitting, all looking in the same direction as if wiating for instructions and smiling. A banner at the bottom says FELLOW, the name of the project

The Lion’s Barber Collective, Torquay and beyond

The Lion’s Barber Collective was set up by Torquay-based barber Tom Chapman in 2015 to help tackle the huge issue of male suicide.

The Collective runs BarberTalk training sessions for hair professionals, teaching barbers how to recognise symptoms of mental ill health in clients. This training gives them  tools to support clients with their mental health through listening skills and signposting to relevant services.

For the full story behind this brilliant grassroots initiative watch The 1.7 Million Haircut which chronicles why and how Tom Chapman launched Lion’s Barber.

Tom chapman is talking in front of a crowd.

The Bounce Back Foundation, London

The Bounce back foundation provides holistic and individualised support to ex-offenders. Through strategic training, their innovative prison-to-employment model provides ex-offenders with skills and qualifications in construction, helping this vulnerable group to get back into employment and reconnect with their families and communities.

This wonderful organisation  has recently been awarded funding on ActionFunder to continue their training sessions!

In a white room 3 man are dresses in white working dungarees and painting walls

Christchurch School Community Garden, London

Christchurch School Community Garden is a volunteer-run green space for the community in East Greenwich, London. The team behind the garden have worked hard to win funding over the last few years, allowing them to install everything from a wildlife pond to an orchard.

Particularly popular is their outdoor classroom where the community can come to learn about gardening, beekeeping, biodiversity and more. If you’re in Greenwich, pop in for a look around.

A wooden box with small pots of honey and leaflets

Connect Online, Midlothian

Connect Online recruits volunteers with tech skills to teach older people who want to get online but don’t know how. Volunteers help in group settings at Computer Clubs throughout Midlothian. They also offer home visits to housebound people or carers, helping to tackle the tech divide in the older generations.

With certain technical skills becoming more and more crucial, the training has a particular emphasis on helping people to stay connected to family and friends, and helping them maintain their independence.

During lockdown the groups have moved to online sessions via video call or telephone with useful follow up emails summarising the information learnt. Learning how to use Zoom is now a frequent topic!

Four men and a woman are smiling and holding a picture frame with the hashtag volunteer scotland written across it


Explore more and find all the projects working to support people with education and employment on ActionFunder.

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