Rather appropriately the Building Bridges volunteering research and practice workshop, co-hosted by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network, Association of Volunteer Managers and the Network of National Volunteer Involving Agencies and supported by NCVO, was held during Volunteering Week. Through their networks the co-convenors attracted a diverse audience united by a commitment to understanding and supporting the growth of voluntary action and a desire to strengthen collaborative working between volunteer managers and researchers.
The atmosphere was incredibly welcoming, I met new people, and met colleagues some of whom I hadn’t seen for several years. I certainly learned a lot. The format of the day facilitated knowledge sharing, and the mobilisation of multiple knowledges. The latter effectively happens when knowledge is co-produced, and knowledge/evidence is presented in accessible formats targeted for specific audiences.
Key messages from the day for me as a university researcher include:
- The importance of co-producing knowledge, of collaborating from the outset when identifying research questions
- Of ensuring that research findings are presented available in accessible formats in order to inform decision making.
- Of thinking of conduits that can be used to ensure that new knowledge is easily and efficiently ‘discovered’ by the sector
- Of the importance of networks that create the spaces and places for conversations between those committed to supporting voluntary action
Irene Hardill, Northumbria University