Have you ever wondered why people choose to join one of our network's Clusters? There are lots of reasons people get involved. Below are six of them. Can you think of any more? If so then we'd like to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
1. TO LEARN NEW SKILLS
“Cluster meetings teach me business skills and motivate me to be a better person. I learn how to drive a successful business.” – Christine, Kericho
Cluster members sometimes meet to share in training. These ‘Linking 2 Learn’ sessions can last from two hours to two days. Each session is normally led by someone who is an expert in a subject that other Cluster members want to learn about. The trainer might be someone from within the Cluster, or outside of it. Either way, the training can benefit both the individual Cluster members and the organisations that they represent. Cluster members can also access knowledge and skills from the wider network, either through our website or by connecting with others in our network. You can learn about one Cluster's recent 'Linking 2 Learn' here.
2. TO RAISE YOUR VOICE
“By coming together people can raise their voice, claim their rights … and increase their confidence.” – Madhu, Uttarakhand
When you work in a small organisation, it can be difficult to get people to listen when you have something important to say, whether you are trying to speak to your community, funders, policy makers or the media. But in a Cluster you can connect with people who care about the same things as you, and you can then speak together as one. Whether by running an event together, speaking to the local media, or visiting people in your community, the Cluster can help its members, and their organisations, to gain more recognition, credibility and respect. You can see how one Cluster made national news headlines for its work to reduce gender-based violence here.
3. TO ACCESS MORE RESOURCES
“By networking, we share resources. And if we share resources, we don’t have to compete. We will actually cut down our costs.” – Sedevi, North East
Cluster members often share resources in order to achieve something that benefits everyone in their community. For example, members of Zambia’s Chisekesi Cluster share mechanical equipment, livestock and food. In doing so, they have created job opportunities for young people and helped keep hundreds of schoolchildren fed during a severe drought. Without sharing resources, these things would not have been possible. This sharing can save time and money as well by, for example, sharing transport costs or working on funding applications together. You can learn more about Chisekesi Cluster here.
4. TO CREATE NEW PARTNERSHIPS
"Sarah supports me so much. I share things with her in confidence, and she’ll always listen and support me ... We work in partnership too: when she runs events in schools, I go with her." – Linda, Kericho
It is sometimes tempting to compete with local people and organisations who do the same work as you. But in a Cluster, when two members do similar kinds of work, they often end up forging partnerships to support each other, and to make sure there work doesn't overlap. This often means that the service they both offer to their community is more comprehensive, and has more impact. Click here to learn more about Linda and Sarah's partnership.
5. TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS
“I have had the privilege of friendships that have lasted a decade [with] people who I may never have met if not for the Cluster.” – Jubin, Uttarakhand
In each Cluster you will find a range of different people, with different skills and experiences. But they are also often like-minded people with the same values at heart. This means a Cluster can be a great place to make new friends. Click here to learn about one of these friendships.
6. TO IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNITY'S HEALTH & HAPPINESS
“Initially I felt ashamed to take my [disabled] child out in social gatherings, but the retreat has changed my thoughts entirely. From now on I will … without hesitation.” – A mother speaking at the end of a Cluster retreat for children with disabilities and their families.
When steps 1-5 happen, it naturally leads to step 6! By bringing together people and organisations that serve their communities, and building a culture of friendship, support and collaboration, the community that the Cluster serve can benefit in different ways. But sometimes, Cluster members will run a project together, and it often leads to great things. For example, India's North East Cluster ran this disability retreat to provide a space of fun, support and relaxation for children with disabilities and their families.
Learn more about each of our Clusters here.