News - 21. page

Third Sector Research Centre consultation response published

Rob Macmillan wrote, for the VSSN Steering Group…

You might be aware that the VSSN Steering Group has been conducting a consultation on the potential priorities and structure of the proposed Third Sector Research Centre amongst VSSN members as reported earlier by Peter Halfpenny. The consultation took place between 22.10.07 and 11.11.07 around six key questions:

1. In which areas would you say that evidence and argument on the Third Sector are strongest? In which areas are they weakest?

2. What should be the research priorities of the new Third Sector Research Centre? (Please list/outline up to three)

3. What should be the role of the centre in developing research capacity?

4. What should be the role of the centre in developing the sector’s own capacity to gather and utilise evidence?

5. How should the Third Sector Research Centre be structured?

6. Are there any other potential functions of this research centre?

You can find a copy of the synthesis of the results here (PDF format)

This has also been submitted to the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) and directly to the consultants working on the scoping phase for OTS.

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VSSN plays major role in sector consultations

As might be expected, VSSN is playing a major role in current Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) consultations about the Voluntary and Community Sector. Peter Halfpenny, in his role as Chair of the VSSN Steering Group (SG), was recently invited to make a presentation to a consultation meeting about the ESRC’s Voluntary Sector Engagement Strategy. This Strategy has now been approved by the Council and the SG will be meeting with the ESRC’s Head of Knowledge Transfer in January to discuss its implementation.

In parallel with this, the SG invited VSSN members to comment on a set of key questions about the proposed ESRC/OTS Third Sector Research Centre. Three SG members, Rob MacMillan, Cathy Pharoah and Angela Ellis-Paine, collated the responses and submitted them to the consultants who are preparing a plan for the Centre.

Peter Halfpenny made a presentation to a consultation meeting about the Centre, and the four SG members in attendance spent nearly an hour at the end of the meeting briefing the consultants. The ESRC is expected to issue a call for proposals for the Centre early in the New Year and we are optimistic that it will reflect the SG’s views about its structure and operation.

See also the further news item 26/11/07: Third Sector Research Centre consultation response published.

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Hello Felix, thanks Matthew

Gareth Morgan wrote, to all VSSN members:-

As you will know from announcements in the spring, VSSN went out to tender for provision of an Executive Officer role needed to support the Network. The outcome was that we entered into an agreement with the Association of University Administrators (AUA) to provide this, and Matthew McClelland was the named Exec Officer – his work began from 1 April this year.

Since then, Matthew has made a huge contribution to the work of VSSN. Many of our procedures are now streamlined through the AUA office, and he has contributed greatly in helping the VSSN Steering Group itself to be more effective. He has done a great deal in contacting people (as a result of SG suggestions) to build links and grow the membership. The infrastructure is now there to allow VSSN to engage effectively in growing our activities and participating in new initiatives that will support the community of voluntary sector researchers.

AUA advised us at the start of this month that Matthew was leaving AUA to take up a post at Queen Mary, University of London, which means he also has to step down as VSSN Executive Officer. We are very sad to lose him, but the VSSN Steering Group was very happy to approve AUA’s nomination of Felix Mussell to replace him. Apart from the support to VSSN, Felix holds the role of Membership Services Manager at AUA – he also has a good deal of interest in the sector having held significant voluntary roles in two different voluntary/community organisations.

Felix and Matthew are working closely on the handover arrangements, and Felix will formally take over as VSSN Executive Office from today, 1 October, although you will see his name on the VSSN membership subs renewal letters which have just gone out. Felix will take over the VSSN e-mail and telephone number, so the contact details for the VSSN office remain unchanged.

Both Matthew and Felix were at the recent NCVO/VSSN Researching the Voluntary Sector Conference, and no doubt many of you may have met one or both of them in the various sessions.

Subscriptions appeal launched

Gareth Morgan wrote, to all VSSN members:-

As Treasurer, I would like to thank all those who have made the commitment over the last year to being formal members of VSSN and paying a subscription. It is through this support that VSSN has been able to make the strategic commitment to the Executive Officer role. Moreover, it looks as though through the hard work of Matthew and Felix and members of the Steering Group we have just this week reached the critical figure of 100 paid up members!

So, in the next few days when you get your membership renewal letters, do please respond promptly! Your support in renewing your membership is vital to continuing this work. Remember that as a formal member of VSSN you get a big discount on the cost of VSSN seminars (£15 instead of £35), the right to be included in the VSSN Members Research Directory, and of course the right to vote and stand for the Steering Group (Trustee)!

If you have joined the discussion list but are not yet a formal VSSN member, the easiest way to join is via our online Join page. Also, following the constitutional changes agreed in the Spring, VSSN now offers Organisational Membership, so an organisation with a number of people involved in voluntary sector research can enrol the whole team without paying individual subs. Please e-mail Felix via and ask for a copy of the VSSN Organisational Membership form.

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VSSN Treasurer awarded chair

Long-standing VSSN member, Trustee and Treasurer Gareth Morgan has been appointed to a personal chair and now has the title Professor of Charity Studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

In congratulating Gareth today, Peter Halfpenny (VSSN chairperson) described this appointment as “particularly fitting and probably unique”.

Gareth himself added “I think there are still only around 6 UK professorships in areas specifically linked to the sector – though it’s hard to give an exact number as it depends on definitions.”

ESRC third sector website under VSSN spotlight

VSSN members have been asked to scrutinise and feed back on a new web site under development by the ESRC.

Amanda Williams of ESRC’s Knowledge Transfer team wrote:-

“The ESRC are in the process of developing a new website, which will have a number of different web homepages for particular audiences.

I would be grateful for any feedback you may have or your members in regard to its content; lay-out; functionality and value to the third sector.

Please be aware that this is only the first phase of development, over the summer I intend to re-write some of the content to ensure that it is more accessible to the sector (non-academic/user-friendly language).

We are also in the process of developing an engagement strategy for the Third sector, so hopefully there will be more funding opportunities and relevant activities/research available to the sector.

Please let me know if you require any further information and wish to discuss.”

Contact for further information; tel 01793 413126