Among the CSU's aims are the provision of good practice guidance and the promotion of voluntary regulation by societies issuing community shares. The CSU is working closely with practitioners to promote these voluntary standards through the co-ordination of a Community Shares Practitioner Network.

Introducing the Community Shares Practitioner Network

The Community Shares Practitioner Network (CSPN) aims to support individuals and organisations who provide advice and guidance to communities undertaking share offers.

The CSPN is part of a wider peer network programme or People’s Community of Practice (CoP) funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England. It is supporting 13 community business peer networks over 18 months. Participation in the CSPN is focused on a discrete pathway towards becoming a licensed practitioner, supported through online Practitioner Meet-ups, Google discussion groups, and face-to-face training workshops. The network aims to develop practitioner expertise and the ability to support community shares.

If you are interested in joining the network, please register your interest with us and we will get in touch with you to arrange an initial introductory call to find out more about your current circumstances and plans to develop as a community shares practitioner. 


What is a practitioner? 

Practitioners are individuals who provide advice and guidance to communities undertaking share offers.

In 2015, the CSU introduced a licence for community shares practitioners that authorises them to award the Community Shares Standard Mark on behalf of the CSU. A licensed practitioner is someone who has been assessed by the CSU as being competent to review a society’s share offer, and licensed to award the Mark on the Unit’s behalf.

Practitioners have a wide variety of backgrounds, but all are experienced in community share offers. They might be board members, technical advisers, business plan developers or share offer document writers. Some may be experts in a particular trade sector, knowledgeable about society law, or experienced in community engagement. Whatever their background, experience and expertise, they are all committed to the principles of good practice and independent peer review, and value the contribution a second opinion can bring to the development of high quality share offers.

The CSU maintains a directory of licensed practitioners, detailing which societies a practitioner has worked with, and the services they provided.  Licensed practitioners are required to sign up to a code of practice, which includes participating in an open complaints procedure, giving both their clients and the general public the right to complain about a share offer or the work of a licensed practitioner. Under the code the CSU has the ultimate sanction of removing a practitioner’s license.  


Becoming a licensed practitioner

Practitioners apply to become a licensed practitioner through either the Experience or Training Route.

  • To follow the Experience Route you must have already worked with a society making a community share offer, and be able to identify and describe the client support you provided. The assessment fee is £1,000+VAT per person.
  • The Training Route requires you to attend five workshops, and to apply what you learn to a client society which is planning to make a community share offer. The course and assessment fee is £2,000+VAT per person.

Regardless of which route you take, you will be assessed in the same way by completing the client case study assignment. This assignment focuses on the support you have provided to a client society making a share offer. It can be a historical case, or a live case.  

Experienced practitioners can contact us at any point to begin their assessment to become licensed. Please complete this application form.

Next Practitioner Training programme: May to October 2017

We are delighted to announce our next Practitioner Training Programme - our dedicated community shares training course which supports emerging practitioners to become licensed to award the Standard Mark.

Our sixth training programme is being held in conjunction with our colleagues at Community Shares Wales. The course itself involves five workshops, applying your learning to client group which is planning to make a community share offer. The dates for this round are as follows: 

  • Workshop 1 (Introduction) - 16th May (for Welsh attendees) at Wales Co-operative Centre, Caerphilly  / 18th May webinar (for all other attendees)
  • Workshop 2 (Community Engagement) - 14th June at Signing Tree Conference Centre, Birmingham)
  • Workshop 3 (Business Model) - 19th July at Impact Hub, Birmingham
  • Workshop 4 (Governance) - 20th September at Impact Hub, Birmingham
  • Workshop 5 (Offer Documentation) - 25th October at Impact Hub, Birmingham

Once you have completed the workshops, you will need to complete a case study assignment to become a "probationary" licensed practitioner, able to award the Standard Mark under supervision of the CSU.

Following this, you are then able to become a fully licensed practitioner, awarding the Standard Mark independently to participating societies. In order to become fully licensed you have to complete three share offer assessments, satisfactorily peer reviewed by the CSU.  

The course and assessment fee is £2,000 + VAT per person but we are offering a number of free places for freelancers and individuals from organisations with limited training resources - you can apply for the bursary on the application form. 


To apply to attend, please complete the application form which can be found here by Friday 21st April.  All candidates will be notified by Friday 5th May whether you have been successful or not.