Small groups, big issues? Researching local, community-based, and ‘below the radar’ organisations and action

Thursday 23rd May, The Circle, Rockingham Lane, Sheffield City Centre

The next VSSN day seminar will be held in Sheffield and is focused on small charities, community groups, ‘below the radar’[i] organisations, and informal grassroots action. Charities with multi-million pound incomes and global brands largely dominate discussions within the third sector press and drive related policy interventions. In parallel, formally organised voluntary sector service providers have also dominated much academic research. However, the need to pay close attention to small organisations, and the distinctive contributions and value of small groups and movements could not be greater.

We welcome proposals from researchers and practitioners which address these themes and consider the ways that different small organisations organise and work from diverse perspectives. We also welcome presentations related to this theme which will promote discussion around community activism, community development and community organising among different communities.

For example, topics might include the following:

  • How is austerity impacting on small charities and community organisations?
  • How are wider social and political changes affecting small local charities, community groups and new movements (in the UK and elsewhere)?
  • The value and distinction offered by small and below the radar groups
  • Challenges in approaches to studying ‘below the radar’ and grassroots groups
  • ‘Informal’ voluntary action, local support and neighbourliness
  • Relationships between small and large charities

This day seminar will bring researchers together with practitioners working or volunteering for small and community-based organisations and groups, to reflect on the day-to-day challenges faced in such work and action, and help build a collective research and policy agenda in this area.

If you want to contribute?

To submit a proposal to contribute to this seminar – either individually or through a panel session –please provide a short abstract or descriptive summary of between 150 and 300 words of what you would like to present and include your contact details and organisation/group. Please send to Alison Body a.m.body@kent.ac.uk by 1st April.

Please also indicate how your proposal relates to the theme of the day and what presentation format you intend. If you have any questions about the event or want to discuss contributions, please contact us.

[i]For example, see: McCabe, A. (2018) ‘Ten Years Below the Radar: Reflections on Voluntary and Community Action’, TSRC Working Paper 143, November 2018 https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/tsrc/documents/tsrc/working-papers/10-years-below-the-radar-final.pdf

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