Conference FAQs

What is it?

The Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference (#VSVR21) is the largest conference devoted to voluntary sector-related research in the UK. Organised by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN), and this year in partnership with Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC), every year over 100 researchers, practitioners, writers, and policy practitioners gather to discuss current issue in the voluntary sector in the UK and worldwide, and the latest ground-breaking research.

When is it?

6th and 7th September 2021, staring at about 9am each day.

Where is it?

The conference takes place at the Aston University Conference Centre, in Birmingham, UK. The address is: Aston Business School, Aston Street, Birmingham, B4 7ET.

Is there a theme?

The theme of the conference is ‘Leadership, Diversity, and Civil Society’. This year we have over fifty papers being delivered, and plenary speakers include: Sanjiv Lingayah (Independent researcher, writer and consultant); Carol Jacklin-Jarvis (Open University); Joy Warmington (BRAP); Chris Pietroni (University of Birmingham); and Lela Kogbara (Black Thrive)

What about new researchers?

As ever, our New Researchers Session offers a supportive environment for new scholars to present their work and receive detailed feedback on it. New Researchers have already submitted their abstracts, and can also attend for a much reduced fee.

All delegates of the New Researchers Session are invited to attend the plenary sessions of the main conference. You will also have plenty of opportunities to network with established researchers and practitioners during refreshment and lunch breaks. We have in the past also given NRS delegates a ‘wildcard’ to attend one of the sessions at the main conference. If you want to attend more than one session, you will need to register for the main conference and pay the main conference fee.

Getting to the venue

The Aston University Conference Centre is well served by air, road, rail, bus, and is easy to walk to from Birmingham city centre. All the details, including how to book parking, are available at the Aston website:, and you can access a map using the Aston How to Get Here Guide here:

How do I book?

You can book your place at the conference here: You can book either to attend one or two days. Both days include refreshments and lunch, with the two day rate including the conference dinner on the first night. The MEMBER rate is available to individuals who are members of VSSN, and anyone working for a voluntary, community, faith, or social enterprise organisation.

Your conference rate does not include accommodation or travel.

How do I join VSSN?

Not a member of VSSN? Membership rates start from £35, with reduced events fees and a subscription to Voluntary Sector Review. Details here:

Where should I stay?

The Aston Conference Centre has its own hotel. You can book a room here:

There are also many other hotels close by at various prices, such as:

Please make yourself aware of any cancellation policies given changing coronavirus regulations.

What about coronavirus?

Last year, our conference moved online because of the pandemic, and was a great success with over 500 people registered to attend. This year, we have decided after listening to changing government guidance to move forward with an in-person event. We are keeping a close eye on public health developments and government advice, and if the regulations change and the conference has to be cancelled we will move to an online event. In the event of cancellation, conference fees will be refunded, and the online event will run at a much reduced cost.

What else happens at the conference?

Alongside a range of great papers and stimulating plenary sessions, the conference includes plenty of time for networking and meeting other people. The conference dinner on the first night (included for those booking for two days) is included, and will cater to all dietary requirements. We’ll also have our annual prize ceremony, including the Campbell Adamson Prize for best paper at the conference, the Duncan Scott New Researchers Prize for best new researcher paper, and for the first time, the Best Voluntary Sector Review Article prize. There’ll also be an opportunity to meet the editors of Voluntary Sector Review over breakfast on the second day, to discuss publishing your work.

When are papers due?

If you would like your research paper to be considered for the Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize for best paper at the conference, or the Duncan Scott New Researchers Prize for best new researcher paper, then the deadline for submitting these is the 20th August. Papers should be up to 4000 words long, and more details will be sent out about this to presenters soon. You do not have to submit a paper to present.

What should I do if I have more questions?

Please email, or ask @VSSN_UK on Twitter.