Emotions and feelings in voluntary sector work: Explorations from research and practice  

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Call for papers for the first seminar to be held on 10.30am – 4.00pm, 22nd October 2020

 We are grateful for a small grant from the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) to organise a series of events we are running from autumn 2020 on the role of emotions and feelings within voluntary sector work: in community, voluntary, social enterprise or co-operative settings. This may be in the UK, elsewhere in Europe or the world.

About the seminar series

This series seeks to bring together the community, social and psychological realm. The aim of these seminars is to explore the effect and role of emotions and feelings in the Voluntary Sector. Seminars will address this by considering cross-over issues through informed discussion, gaining perspectives from speakers with professional knowledge and co-learning through small group work, involving practitioner experience and research insights. These can later lead to articles, blogs or web posts in academic or practitioner journals. You are welcome to come as a participant or presenter.

Location and on-line

The three seminars will be in Preston (10.30am – 4.00pm, 22nd October 2020), Bristol or south west (March 2021) and London (June 2021). In view of current restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus, all three events will happen on-line and include a mixture including face-to-face events if, or when, Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

To register your place at the first seminar on the 22nd October please complete the form on Eventbrite as numbers are limited.


How to keep in touch

If you have any questions the seminars please contact the initial planning group now: Dr Mike Aiken (Brighton) mikeloscaminos@myphone.coop, Dr Vita Terry (London) vita@ivar.org.uk and Dr Julian Manley (Preston) jymanley@uclan.ac.uk.

Guide to submitting a proposa

1. Aims and initial themes

The aims of these seminars are to encourage joint work and the sharing of insights between the sometimes separate arenas of the social (community, voluntary, social enterprise, co-operative work) with the psychological (the affective realm of emotions and feelings).

Attention to the psychological and the social is also important for workers and volunteers operating in tough urban/ rural communities facing daily anxiety in fragile organisations. The daily stresses and tensions of managers facing tough work, performance targets and disadvantaged communities may present splitting denial and other defences as survival strategies. For example, the entrepreneurial founder of a much praised project may feel locked into a role where their exit may lead to project closure. Trustees can face decisions that conflict with their values and beliefs.

2. Intended participants

2.1     Researchers, practitioners, activists, academics, policy makers and funders engaged in the Community, Voluntary and Co-operative sector (CVC sector – including voluntary, community, social enterprise or co-operative action).

2.2     People active in social, psychosocial or critical perspectives related to the affective realm – of feelings and emotions – within local communities.

2.3     Foundations, funders and local policy makers.

3. About your theme and contribution

Your contribution to the day seminars could be presenting a paper; organising a panel of speakers; facilitating a discussion, workshop or roundtable; analysing a particular situation. You can also contribute as a participant without presenting

Your theme may be a starting question/puzzle or dilemma; or a link to a theoretical framework or debate or contemporary or historical situation, or a cross-disciplinary insight, or international perspective that links to voluntary, community, social enterprise or co-operative action.

You may wish to start by exploring a key topic/puzzle/dilemma relating to work you have been involved in, or affecting practitioners or contemporary practice within voluntary, community, social enterprise or co-operative action.

Participants are welcome to draw from different disciplinary backgrounds (social theory, sociology, psychology or therapeutic studies, women’s studies, post-colonial studies etc) as long as there is a link to voluntary, community, social enterprise or co-operative action.

4.  The format for the session 

Your contribution could be:

4.1     a presentation (with space for questions and discussion)

4.2     a panel with 2 or 3 speakers

4.3     a workshop or carousel format with participants moving between tables that    highlight different questions

4.4     a short informal 10 minute input on a key issue or vignette

4.5     any other format you wish to propose (please advise, or discuss with us).

Please note your panel, presentation, workshop or other format should also allow time for some discussion, interaction, or questions. In total your slot should be either 30 or 40 minutes (that includes at least 10 minutes for questions/discussion.  You can also propose a short 10 minute slot for presenting a key issue/dilemma that you have encountered in your work that you feel needs researching further.

5. Outcomes from the seminars

The outcomes from the seminars may develop during the series. These may include:

5.1     Plans for joint articles (academic but also practitioner journals or magazines (including Voluntary Sector Studies, Civil Society, Organisational and Social Dynamics); contributions to the VSSN annual conference in September 2021; and to VSSN day seminars

6. Ethical considerations and questions

The organisers are mindful of the sensitive nature of research and personal experience that may be shared within these seminars. Customary support practices and ethical procedures will therefore be adopted to offer safe and confidential spaces where appropriate.

7. Timings

If you would like to submit a proposal for the 22nd October please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to Dr Mike Aiken: mikeloscaminos@myphone.coop or Dr Vita Terry: vita@ivar.org.uk. The deadline for abstracts is the 1st September and we will aim to let you know if you are successful by the 24th September.