22nd November 2018 (All Day)


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Diversity in the spotlight: Where are diversity and inequalities in voluntary sector debates and research?

First seminar: “Highlighting perspectives on race, culture and migrants in research and community settings”

Bookings now open

Abstracts and programme available here

This is the first of what we hope will be a series of seminars aiming to address the continuing marginalisation or absence of diverse groups from voluntary sector research and debates.

This seminar will focus on race, culture and migrants both in research and community settings. It is being organised in conjunction with members of community groups and held in Birmingham city centre. Key speakers will be announced nearer the date.

In 2013, Birmingham’s Third Sector Research Centre discussed the absence of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voices in voluntary sector research and in prominent debates concerning the sector at regional and national levels (Ware, 2013). However, even when such discussions take place, Witter (2017) observes how few individuals from minority ethnic groups have been present to explore issues which are about them.  As Etienne’s (2016) research demonstrates, minority ethnic voices are seriously underrepresented among academic researchers and in policy making circles, yet play a hugely significant role among community groups and in activism. Phillimore and McCabe (2015) also note that BAME organisations often exist largely below the radar and the dominant discourse of the UK’s voluntary sector.

As UK society becomes increasingly diverse and more globally connected, this creates new and distinctive challenges in how the voluntary sector – its research, policies and practices – respond to different needs and better represent the wider population. Yet, despite recognition of the lack of research in this field which addresses difference and diversity, there has been little recent challenge to the status quo and a dominant discourse which neglects significant voices. This needs to change.


9.45-10.15       Registration and refreshments

Morning session

10.15-10.20     Welcome and Introduction

10.20–11.00    Presentation 1

Asif Afridi, Birmingham Race Action Partnership

Race equality and the voluntary sector: learning from the inquiry into the future of civil society

11.00-11.30     Presentation 2

Palmela Witter, independent researcher, London

Black youth and loss of trust: how can black women community activists create a platform for change?

11.30–12.00    Presentation 3

Liz Bailey, TSRC, University of Birmingham

Women doing it for themselves: 1980s community organisation amongst black women’s groups in Bethnal Green

12.00–12.30    Presentation 4

Abi Woodward, CRESR, Sheffield Hallam University

Understanding the power of the ‘informal sector’: Exploring the lived experiences of Pakistani Muslims in Sheffield

12.30-12.40     Information exchange/research sharing

12.40–13.40    Lunch   

Afternoon session

13.40–14.00    VSSN Annual General Meeting

14.00–14.30    Presentation 5

Mike Aiken with colleagues from the Pledge Against Charging campaign, Sussex

Making a pledge: exploring the process of coalition building to defend health care rights in a hostile environment         

14.30–15.00    Presentation 6

Lucy Mort, Manchester Metropolitan University

Organisational loss in the age of austerity: voices from the frontline of a migrant organisation

15.00–15.15    Break

15.15–16.00    Presentation 7

Lucy Mayblin, University of Sheffield

Asylum and Refugee Support in the UK: Civil Society Filling the Gaps? 

16.00–16.30    Closing plenary


  • Jan Etienne, Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck University of London
  • Sado Jirde, Director Black South West network

16.30               Finish


Proposed seminar/discussion series

This is the first of what we hope will be a series of seminars and/or discussions, in which some absences in the debate around issues concerning difference and diversity can be explored with the aim of challenging the current orthodoxy of research in the voluntary sector field.

We welcome proposals to host future seminars or roundtable discussions which will facilitate further debate on different aspects of diversity and inequalities and might focus, for example, on gender, on sexual identities, on disabilities, on emotional labour or other related issues. We recognise the intersectional nature of these debates as well as the diverse aspects.

Working with participants we hope to draw together some of the threads from all the seminars and discussions in a paper or papers following the seminars.

To discuss the possibility of hosting or co-hosting an event in this proposed series, please contact Linda Milbourne l.milbourne@bbk.ac.uk




Ticket Type Price Spaces
Non member £70.00
VSSN member £35.00
Concession (low income, no institutional support) £25.00

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