News - 3. page

IVR hosts free half day on line seminar

IVR hostS free half day online webinar

On 20 November 2020, IVR hosted a free half day online webinar for the Voluntary Sector Studies Network with fabulous speakers from Newman University, Leeds Beckett University, UEA and from volunteer involving organisations in Norwich. Volunteering in Health and Social Care in the context of COVID-19: making a difference in a complex landscape of rising demand. We’re delighted to provide the recording from session one and session two of this event.

Please use the links below:

Success of our first on line Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference

Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research e-Conference 2020

For two days over 7th-8th September the annual Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research (VSVR) Conference was held online. For more than 20 years the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has partnered with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) to run this conference and this year the Birmingham Voluntary Sector Centre for Voluntary Action (BVSC) also joined this collaborative effort.

The theme of this first e-conference was ‘‘Times like these’: Researching civil society responses to and recovery from COVID-19’ and we were really pleased at the response from practitioners and academics presenting up-to-date research on the current situation and recovery from the pandemic. The programme comprised two plenaries and two sessions on each of four themes, a session with the Editors of Voluntary Sector Review and two book launches.

Professor Tracey Coule and Associate Professor Chris Dayso launched the conference by considering theoretical frames to consider civil society’s responses to Covid-19. Themes that emerged included the way we frame civil society-government relationships and mutual aid groups, which indeed became recurring themes throughout the conference. These themes, as well as how civil society organisations have reformed and changed their practice, were also carried forward to the plenary on Day 2 with presentations by Karl Wilding (NCVO)   Anna Fowlie (Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations) Brian Carr (BVSC) & Affan Cheema (Islamic Relief Worldwide). Carolyn Cordery who chaired the session ably assisted by Jon Dean.

A focus on volunteer mobilisation to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic brought papers from England, Scotland, Wales and British Columbia. And, while much mobilisation depends on organisations, the pandemic has seen returns to neighbourly volunteering and the geography of voluntary action being disrupted. The second volunteering session focused more on the experience of volunteering during the pandemic, from volunteer and organisational perspectives .

Philanthropy, fundraising and funding issues were the topic of session 1a and to some extent the cross-cutting issues in Session 3b. The research presented in these sessions was very varied, considering issues such as financial vulnerability and good grant making, the effects of furloughing on fundraisers, as well as governance, the role of local infrastructure and how social services data can help researchers understand Covid-19 responses.

As Covid-19 has had such a huge impact on society, it was unsurprising that two sessions discussed research taking ‘micro, meso and macro perspectives’ on voluntary organisations and Covid-19. Again with papers from England and Scotland, these sessions considered responses from local and national organisations working with homelessness, criminal justice, poverty and community businesses, as well as highlighting the lived experience of people.

Picking up the theme of mutual aid, two sessions considered both the conceptual insights and those from the frontline. These focussed on such issues as democratic participation, the influence of international responses on local mutual aid groups, neighbourhoods and umbrella organisations.

While we missed being able to chat to each other and presenters physically, as we would have done in a physical conference, the e-conference was a great experience and opportunity to share cutting edge research with a wider range of people than would otherwise have been possible, both engaging people who are physically distant from the UK and through social media. The sessions were recorded and can be found at: The next VSVR Conference is scheduled for 6th-7th September 2021 in Birmingham. We hope to see you there!






Steering Group elections 2020

Opportunities to become more involved with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network and Voluntary Sector Review 

Would you like to support the work of VSSN more actively? Do you have ideas about how you’d like to see the network develop?

If so, please consider nominating yourself for a place on either or both of:

  • the VSSN Steering Group
  • the Editorial Management Board of Voluntary Sector Review, the journal produced by VSSN with Policy Press.

VSSN is a volunteer-led organisation and its success relies very much on the commitment, time and energy of members of these two groups. 

VSSN Steering Group (SG)

This year there are three vacancies on the Steering Group.

The term of office is normally three years in the first instance. The maximum term allowed by the constitution is six consecutive years. Being a member of the Steering Group means also becoming a trustee of the VSSN.

Specific roles on the Steering Group are allocated by agreement after the election. Roles include Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and leading on, for example, membership and marketing, day seminars and the annual conference.

What are we looking for in a member of the SG? Commitment to VSSN and its continued success is the most important quality, but this year we are also keen to encourage self-nominations from members with skills/experience in accountancy/ numeric analysis, event organization and membership development.    We also want to improve the diversity of the Steering Group and would welcome interest from under represented groups who can bring lived experience which may be of value to our Network.

Details of existing Steering Group members and their roles can be found at VSR Editorial Management Board (EMB)

This year there are two vacancies for the VSR Editorial Management Board (EMB). The term of office is three years in the first instance, with an opportunity to stand for another three-year term.

The role of the EMB is to:

  • support the editorial team (currently Daiga Kamerade, Carl Milofsky and James Rees)
  • ensure that high editorial standards are maintained
  • represent VSSN in working with the publisher, Policy Press
  • ensure the journal is produced in accordance with the Publisher’s Agreement.

Additional roles

If you would like to be more involved but don’t want to join the Steering Group or Editorial Management Board, there are other voluntary roles which are equally valuable and help us develop our networks and activities. For example, we are currently looking for:

  • people to join our ‘small grants committee’
  • people to join a new team we are setting up to help shortlist the best paper award at next year’s Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference
  • a volunteer to moderate the VSSN email discussion list – an important role but not an onerous one which would only take a few minutes of your time each week and full training will be available if required.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of these roles please contact Jane Cullingworth on You must be a current member of VSSN.

If you have any questions about the self-nomination process or would like a copy of a nomination form, you can find the forms here (please complete the forms by pasting into a word document and sending by email) or please contact us by email via We look forward to receiving your nomination forms soon. Nominations close on Friday 23rd October.

VSSN’s repository for research on Covid-19 and voluntary action

As part of VSSN’s goal to help maximise the visibility and impact of Voluntary Sector focussed research, we are collating research projects which focus on VCS and volunteering responses to, recovery from and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had a great response, and there are 18 studies to explore on this page.

If you would like your project to be visible on the VSSN website, please fill in the form here. It would be great to hear about projects in development as well as those in progress, as this should help to reduce any risk of duplication and open up possibilities of collaboration.

Read more and submit your research project here.

Voluntary Sector Review Call for Research Notes: COVID-19 and voluntary sector

Call for Research Notes

COVID-19 and voluntary sector

Voluntary Sector Review (VSR) invites original research notes on COVID-19 and voluntary sector for a rapid publication in early 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly altered many aspects of voluntary sector: disruption to normal life, social distancing and lockdown measures, furlough, job losses and economic crisis have profoundly affected how voluntary sector organisations operate and individuals’ volunteering and donating behavior both in short- and long-term. There is an unprecedented and immediate need for up to date evidence and new theoretical understanding of the current situation, yet the scientific research and publication of findings as a full paper can take a long time. To address this need, Voluntary Sector Review is experimenting with research notes as a new format of publication. We invite scholars from across the globe to submit short research notes on their ongoing research related to COVID-19 and voluntary sector. We are looking for research notes with promising empirical research findings as well as theoretical discussions that help to understand the potential consequences of the current COVID-19 pandemic for voluntary sector. We seek research notes that make a clear and original contribution.

The research notes can include research outputs that cannot be considered as full research or methodology articles. For example, but not exclusively, they can present intriguing initial and/or time-sensitive results and observations,  advance a new idea, theoretical perspective or methodological approach, describe new data available for other scholars or publish a brief summary of a study that is usually difficult to publish (e.g. with non-significant results).

Submission deadline is October 30th, 2020. We invite research notes of short to medium length (2,000 to 4,000 words). Research notes may follow a less strict paper structure than full papers but still need to make a valuable contribution to the study of voluntary sector.  They must have an abstract and must use referencing and follow VSR manuscript formatting guidelines. Please type ‘Research Note’ at the top of your manuscript, then submit it through Editorial Manager, as a ‘Research article’.  All research notes will undergo a fast track peer-review. A selection of 3-5 notes will be published in March 2021 issue and the rest scheduled for publication in next issues.

For pre-submission queries, prospective contributors are encouraged to contact the corresponding editor Dr. Daiga Kamerāde:

Online forum for new researchers – How to disseminate your research findings

Online forum for new researchers – How to disseminate your research findings

Thursday, September 24 from 1-2pm   

Our next session for new researchers will focus on ways to disseminate research findings beyond journal and book publication – this will include social media, blogs, posters, videos and building networks.  This will be an open forum for new researchers in the field of voluntary studies and voluntary action hosted by Vita Terry, Jon Dean and Jane Cullingworth from VSSN’s steering group.  We have two fabulous speakers:

Please note, you do not need to be a member of VSSN to participate – however, we do encourage you to join VSSN.  VSSN is a membership driven organisation that relies on its members for support.  Membership offers a number of benefits and is on a sliding scale; you can find out more here.

Zoom link:

Please contact Jane Cullingworth at for more information.

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

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), Dr Vita Terry (London) and Dr Julian Manley (Preston)

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: or Dr Vita Terry: The deadline for abstracts is the 1st September and we will aim to let you know if you are successful by the 24th September.


Reminder: Covid-19 and voluntary action research repository

As part of VSSN’s goal to help maximise the visibility and impact of Voluntary Sector focussed research, we are collating research projects which focus on VCS and volunteering responses to, recovery from and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had a great response, and there are 18 studies to explore on this page.

If you would like your project to be visible on the VSSN website, please fill in the form here. It would be great to hear about projects in development as well as those in progress, as this should help to reduce any risk of duplication and open up possibilities of collaboration.

Read more and submit your research project here.

Duncan Scott – a eulogy

By now many colleagues will have heard the terribly sad news that our colleague and longstanding VSSN stalwart Duncan Scott has passed away. He died on 18th May after a severe stroke.

Duncan was a pioneer and champion of voluntary sector research in the UK, and at the forefront of landmark discussions which led to the formation of VSSN back in the 1990s. He promoted voluntary sector studies in academia, through his long career as a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Policy at the University of Manchester. He researched, wrote and spoke about a wide range of topics, often with a practical focus, including funding voluntary organisations, volunteering and service delivery contracts, social enterprise, rural deprivation and voluntary action and qualitative research methods.

Beyond this, and perhaps more significantly, he was a tireless advocate for community-based research. He recognised the importance of supporting those in voluntary organisations and community groups who needed to get vital research done quickly, but who had neither ready access to all the resources on offer in Universities, nor the sometimes breezy academic confidence about research methods. He played significant advisory and committee roles with, for example, the Institute for Volunteering Research, Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation, Third Sector Research Centre and of course VSSN.

Duncan was very supportive of new researchers and doctoral students, finding creative ways to bring people together to discuss common issues and concerns in voluntary sector research. In the early 2000s he convened several significant sessions through VSSN around qualitative research. This drew from and formed the basis of several important publications with colleagues, including ‘Moving Pictures: Realities of voluntary action’ (2000); ‘Close Work: Doing qualitative research
in the voluntary sector’ (2005) and ‘Researching voluntary and community action: The potential of qualitative case studies’ (2005). Duncan was always keen to discuss the messy practice of carrying out research, and often implored colleagues to bring case study research in the voluntary sector alive, to act as witnesses, to ‘show us that you’ve been there!’

Many of us will have worked with or come across Duncan in our research, and will treasure fond memories of his self-deprecating humour, his commitment, his support, gentle challenges, insight and wisdom, and in the end of simply having spent time with him.

To help mark Duncan’s contribution to voluntary sector studies, we have set up a padlet page for colleagues to share reflections. You can access the page by clicking on this link: Simply visit the page and click on the + sign to add your comments.

Rob Macmillan
Sheffield Hallam University