Some of London's most successful community organisations are setting up a London Regen School to offer 'regeneration apprenticeships' - providing practical support to new groups and developing projects.
Community groups from Finsbury Park, Newham, Notting Hill, Tower Hamlets, Brixton and the East End have spent the last few months working with Regen School UK, which launched the hands-on training and support packages for community projects in South Yorkshire two years ago.
"The Regen School philosophy is based on sharing the experience of the people who run successful community organisations and projects," says Hayley Rose, Development Manager for Regen School London.
"The experienced practitioners act as mentors, working alongside students to help them get new projects started or iron out problems in existing ventures"
"We're already have several London groups including Coin Street Community Builders, Finsbury Park Community Trust, Westway Development Trust, Bootstraps Enterprises, High Trees Community Development Trust and the Bromley By Bow Centre, who will provide Mentors and our first intake of 160 students from 80 projects will be next April"
Jon Bright from the government's Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, who was the main speaker at the launch, said: "The Neighbourhood Renewal Unit warmly welcomes the establishment of the London Regen School, following the success of the Regen School in South Yorkshire and sees this sort of initiative as important to the delivery of the neighbourhood renewal agenda."
Sheffield's Helen Jackson MP told guests about the experience of Regen School South Yorkshire, set up in 2001 and which has already helped more than 300 students from 150 projects to set up community organisations or develop projects countrywide.
While all Regen Schools follow the same basic philosophy, each school is independent and run by community groups in its own area to meet specific local needs.
The Regen School programme involves 20 days spread over nine months and includes several days working one-to-one with mentors on projects, two residential schools and a number of workshops which tackle important areas including business planning, funding, consulting with the community, organisation and recruiting staff and volunteers.
Regen School is a not-for-profit venture. Students fees are usually paid through bursaries and mentors receive a consultancy fee for their input which goes to their own community organisations or projects, helping with their sustainability.