VSSN Annual General Meeting 2019

Annual General Meeting

The VSSN Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday, 28th November 2019 at 2.15 – 2.35pm at WISERD, the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods at Cardiff University. It is open to all members of VSSN although non-members are also welcome, but without voting rights. Members who want to attend the AGM only may do so without paying for the whole day conference.

The agenda for the AGM is as follows:

1. Apologies and introductions

2. Minutes of the AGM 2018

3. Matters arising

4. Chair’s report

5. Adoption of the Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending

6. Election of Steering Group members

7. Election of Editorial Management Board members

Apologies should be sent to Ann Hindley – Please also let us know if you are attending the AGM only. We will still be pleased to see you.

Nominations for Steering Group and Editorial Management Board


VSSN Steering Group elections 2019


This year there are three vacancies for the Steering Group.

The following VSSN members have put themselves forward for election.


Jane Cullingworth

Glasgow University


I have been involved in the Steering Group for the past three years and am keen to continue my involvement.  Over the past three years I have focused my contribution on supporting new researchers.  I co-chair the new researchers stream of the annual conference and host an email discussion list specifically for new researchers.  I love being involved in this aspect of VSSN’s work – I find it very rewarding and am keen to continue.  Over the past two years I have also taken on the role of Co-Chair, giving me experience in all aspects the VSSN’s work.

I bring a lot of enthusiasm to the role as well as good communication and organisational skills.  By virtue of the fact that I am based in Glasgow, I bring a Scottish perspective to VSSN, something I think is particularly important in a UK wide network.  I still consider myself new to academia even though I am close to finishing my PhD.  Prior to beginning my studies, I worked in the third sector for over 30 years in Canada and the UK.


Jurgen Grotz

Institute for Volunteering Research


I am a Senior Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia and the Director of the Institute of Volunteering Research there.   Born in Germany in 1963, I received my MA in 1992 for work on disability in China, and my PhD in 1996 from the University of London for my work on Chinese Braille.  I am an academic and practitioner with 25 years’ experience of applied research, working with volunteer-involving organisations, the market and the state.   I have been collaborating with colleagues in VSSN since 2008 in several ways and have presented at seven of its annual research conferences, and was discussant for the Early Researcher sessions at three of them.

I trust that my research focus on volunteering, civic participation and inclusion as well as the Institute for Volunteering Research’s multi disciplinary approach fit well with VSSN’s purpose of advancing knowledge and understanding of organisations, the market and the state.

As Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research based at the University of East Anglia, I am now in a position to actively support the endeavours of VSSN in particular by promoting understanding  of the UK voluntary sector through research and by providing a voice and a meeting place for voluntary sector researchers and also co-developing scientifically robust ways to show the difference volunteering and volunteering research make, extending VSSN’s reach both nationally and internationally.

Vita Terry


I have over ten years of experience in the voluntary sector in various capacities, developing extensive expertise, and specialisms on asylum seekers and refugees, social change, organisational behaviour, small and medium-sized organisations, and service provision. I have demonstrated my commitment and passion towards the voluntary sector, completing both my Masters and PhD research on topical issues, acting as a trustee for a small charity supporting those living with HIV, and produced various documentaries on issues of social change. This also demonstrates the advantage of bringing a practitioner perspective as well as thinking about how to make academic research useful and useable for different audiences.

I have actively contributed to wider academia by peer reviewing articles for Voluntary Sector Review; coordinating a PhD writing retreat with Voluntary Sector Review; and organising a Voluntary Sector Studies Network day conference on diversity. This demonstrates that I have been proactive in instigating events to support others and to promote discussion on relevant issues.

 Since November, I have been co-opted as a steering group member for VSSN due to these previous achievements outlined above. I have found it to be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience and would like to continue in this role. I have proven I am a valuable member to the group, by actively taking part and inputting into discussion, and also co-writing (with Rob Macmillan) a proposal to set up a small grant scheme run by VSSN.


Caroline Walsh


Caroline has over 20 years experience in the volunteer sector ranging from volunteer to volunteer management and governance positions in number of charities and not for profits. She has over a decade experience of teaching and facilitating in higher education. Caroline’s passion, as well as a research focus, has been accessible travel and volunteering through tourism.

In the last 6 years and half years Caroline has been at the forefront of and active in local, regionally and national civic campaigning at all levels & in key roles. On the ground and online. Ongoing campaigning includes all transport accessibility, rail, disability awareness, greater inclusion in all levels of society, NHS and inclusive civic volunteering.

From 2000 -2013 Caroline was a key volunteer organiser for the annual national conference at London Zoo. The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to facilitate dialogue between policy makers, campaigners, researchers, Non- Government Organisations and the General Public about the importance of reef conservation at a policy level, nationally and internationally. She still regularly arranges events in all her current volunteer roles.


VSSN Editorial Management Board election 2019

 This year there are two vacancies for the Editorial Management Board

The following VSSN members have put themselves forward for election.

Jurgen Grotz I am a Senior Research Fellow at the University of East Anglia and the Director of the Institute of for Volunteering Research there.  I am an academic and practitioner with 25 years’ experience of applied research, working with voluntary associations and volunteer involving  organisations, with a strong focus on participative approaches.  I have extensive experience of making research knowledge available  in accessible formats, engaging academic and non-academic communities.  I have, for example, contributed to IVR reports  such as ‘Exploring the Relationship between Volunteer Centres and local authorities’ and ‘A gateway to work’.  I have also provided a background paper to the project on ‘The State of World’s Volunteering Report 2011’ by the UN Volunteers and recently co-edited the Palgrave Handbook of Volunteering, Civic Participation and Nonprofit Associations, which had 200 contributors from 70 nations.  I am currently an Associate Editor of Voluntaristics Review and review contributions for peer reviewed journals, including VSR.

I trust that my experience in both academic and non academic publishing fits well with VSR’s ambition to reach a range of audiences including academic , policy and practice, nationally and internationally.  Furthermore my research interest of volunteering, civic participation, and inclusion fits well with VSR’s focus on the origins and nature of volunteering, the experiences of user groups and social activism.

I am particularly interested in increasing the range of disciplines publishing in VSR and trust that my interdisciplinary work at UEA, nationally and internationally, will support this endeavor.



University College, Cork

I have just completed three years on the VSR Editorial Management Board, during which I learned much about the operation of the journal, some of the challenges it faces and its potential into the future.  I hope I have also contributed in trying to develop it into a renown international journal.  I feel that a second term, would enable me play a bigger role in that regard.  In my view the journal needs to be developed into an internationally read and renown journal for it to become sustainable and relevant into the future.  I think that my experience working both inside and outside the UK would be a benefit.  I have been Programme Director for the Masters in Voluntary and Community Sector Management at University College Cork for the past 14 years and teach/ research in the area of social policy/community development. Previously I’ve lectured at Ulster University and Queens in Belfast.  I’ve had a lifetime of involvement in voluntary sector activity, in Ireland, North and South, in Welfare rights, Community Education, and with organisations like NICVA, NICAB, Community Technical Aid NI (of which I was a co-founder) and Community Work Ireland.  I have served on a number of Editorial Boards – e.g. Welfare Rights News (Belfast Law Centre), Just News (CAJ) and as Deputy Editor of SCOPE magazine (NICVA).  I currently peer-review for a number of international journals (including VSR) and ISTR.  I believe I can contribute a comparative international perspective to the journal, with an understanding of trends in policy and practice as well as experience in editing.


Joanne Vincett 

The Open University

As an early career researcher at the end of my doctoral studies at The Open University, I would like to serve on the VSR Editorial Management Board and help promote the VSSN and journal.

I bring to the VSR Editorial Management Board, my leadership and networking skills, commitment, attention to detail, and collaborative and supportive nature. I have six years of practitioner and volunteering experience leading teams and collaborating as a team member in charities/not-for-profits/NGOs in the West Indies, Switzerland, Austria, USA and UK, and three years of governance experience as a former trustee, responsible for fundraising, of Yarl’s Wood Befrienders in the UK.

In addition, I bring to the Board my enthusiasm for research and dissemination of voluntary sector studies and my reviewing and publishing experience. I have been a peer reviewer for Gender, Place and Culture (Taylor & Francis), Ethnography (Sage) and Journal of Organizational Ethnography (Emerald). I also have experience working with editorial teams from The Conversation, Discover Society, Journal of Organizational Ethnography and the book editors of Social Work with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants: Theory and Skills for Practice (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) where my research has been published (2017 to 2019).

My 2018 article in Journal of Organizational Ethnography was selected by the editors for the ‘Outstanding Paper Award’ for that year in the Emerald Literati Awards for Excellence. I have also been the recipient of the ‘Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize for Best Paper for New Researchers’ at the 2018 VSSN Conference.



Book now for 2019 Research conference

Bookings are now open for this year’s VSSN / NCVO research conference, happening on 10th/11th September at Aston University in Birmingham.

The conference will build on ongoing debates about how civil society can be at the heart of the changes needed to ensure that all communities can thrive. These debates present opportunities and challenges for civil society actors and for research undertaken on, with and for them, many of which will be explore through the conference.

Highlights in this years’ programme include:

  • An opening plenary in which the architects of two civil society reports – Julia Unwin and Danny Kruger – will discuss their visions for the future of civil society and consider the implications for research
  • A plenary panel of three civil society leaders and policy makers – Andrew Purkis, Debra Allcock Tyler, and Alice Wilcock – will provide some personal reflections on the future of civil society
  • A World Café session on the future of civil society research, during which participants will have an opportunity to meet and share ideas with new and experienced researchers in their field, developing social and professional networks and agendas for future research.
  • Six parallel sessions of papers, panels and workshops across the ten core Conference Streams
  • The largest ever New Researchers session, with 20 participants from a range of institutions and disciplines

The full draft programme is available here (note that this is subject to change).

Full conference details are available here.

*See for example to the Civil Society Strategy and Civil Society Futures

Call for Papers Now Live: Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference 2019

10-11 September 2019, Aston University, Birmingham UK


A civil society for the future: setting the agenda for voluntary sector and volunteering research in the 2020s


Please visit for full details. 


Increasingly the voluntary sector and volunteering is viewed through the lens of ‘civil society’ and the past 12 months have witnessed considerable public and political debate about how civil society can be at the heart of the changes needed to ensure that all communities can thrive. This includes how to strengthen social value within communities, how civil society can revitalise and enhance democracy, and the potential for reshaping state-civil society relationships.

These debates present opportunities and challenges for civil society actors and for research undertaken on, with and for them. Each year, the Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference – organised by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) – provides a unique opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share findings and discuss the implications of research. This year the conference – hosted by Aston University Business School – will focus on ‘a civil society for the future’.

We welcome submissions for individual papers, panel sessions and workshops. Given the conference theme, we are particularly keen to receive proposals offering critical reflections on the future of civil society, but we welcome proposals that address a range of issues relevant to the voluntary sector and volunteering, including:


  1. The Conference Track – Critical Reflections on Civil Society
  2. Democracy and grassroots voluntary action
  3. Diversity, race, (in)equality and inclusion
  4. Volunteering, participation and social action
  5. Advances in theory and methods
  6. Funding, fundraising, philanthropy and social investment
  7. Organisational management and governance, including law and regulation
  8. Historical perspectives on civil society, the voluntary sector and volunteering
  9. Civil society at the boundaries: relationships with the state and/or private sector
  10. Measuring civil society: outcomes, impact and social value
  11. New researchers stream


Please consider submitting a proposal and forwarding this email to those you think may be interested. The full call for papers on our website provides all the necessary details for proposal submissions.


Deadline for submissions is 13 May 2019


Any questions, please email


We look forward to receiving those abstracts!


Best wishes

Angela, Chris, Mike, Carolyn, Veronique, Jane, Lisa and David

The VSVR conference organising team

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 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

Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference 2019

Happy New Year!

The Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) in partnership with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) are delighted to announce the date and location of the Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference 2019.

The conference will take place at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) on 10th and 11th September 2019.

This is the leading UK-based interdisciplinary research conference for academics, policy makers and practitioners with an interest in civil society, the voluntary sector and volunteering. It is an opportunity to share research and network across different contexts, fields and disciplines from the UK and further afield. It is open to those at any stage of their career, from early-career researchers to those established in their field.

Please do add the dates to your diaries now, and the call for papers will be published in February 2019.

If you would like any more information at this time, please don’t hesitate to contact

Kind Regards,

The Conference Steering Group.

Voluntary Sector Review: Call for Practice and Book Reviews Editors

The Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and Policy Press invite applications for the positions of Practice Editor and Book Reviews Editor to join the current editorial team for the Voluntary Sector Review from February 2019 to December 2022.

Voluntary Sector Review (VSR) is a journal with a growing international profile that publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice.

The new Practice Editor will join an existing Practice Editor, and will focus on editing practice-oriented papers. S/he will work closely with the VSR Editorial Team, the Editorial Management Board and Policy Press. Tasks that the Practice Editor will undertake include:

  • receiving submissions, identifying suitable referees, making editorial decisions on acceptance, revision or rejection in the light of referees’ reports
  • maintaining and further developing the national and international reputation of the journal
  • commissioning articles, encouraging submissions, and supporting authors for the Practice section
  • participating in person or virtually in twice yearly meetings of the Editorial Management Board.

The new Book Reviews Editor will focus on identifying and receiving suitable books for review, inviting and supporting reviewers, and editing reviews. S/he will work closely with the VSR Editorial Team, the Editorial Management Board and Policy Press.

Job Descriptions for both roles can be found here.

The Editorial Management Board of VSR is looking forward to receiving applications from those interested in taking up these positions on the editorial team of the journal from February 2019 for an initial period of three years.


The deadline for applications is 10th January 2019. Applications should be sent to:

Applicants should have experience of research, research methods, academic writing and /or teaching in a relevant field, as well as experience of working or volunteering in the voluntary sector/civil society arena.

All applicants are asked to provide a short CV highlighting relevant experience.

Applicants for Practice Editor should also provide a brief account of their strategic plans to maintain and develop the VSR’s Practice Section.

Prospective applicants are welcome to contact the current Practice Editor (Chris Dayson – and Book Reviews Editor (James Rees – informally to discuss the roles further.

Prospective applicants may also contact other members of the selection committee:

Daiga Kamerade, Chair of the Editorial Management Board (

Rob Macmillan, Editor (

Julia Mortimer, Publisher (

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Selection Committee.

Conference report and presentations – Diversity in the spotlight

The report and all presentations from our recent conference, Diversity in the spotlight: highlighting perspectives on race, culture and migrants, are now available to download.

Thank you to all our speakers and attendees for a very stimulating start to what we hope will be a series of events exploring the marginalisation or absence of diverse groups from voluntary sector research and debates.