Adapting to Survive or Thrive: Civil Society, the Third Sector and Social Movements in ‘Post-Socialist’ Spaces: call for papers.

Policy Press are marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union with a special issue, find more details about the call for papers from Policy Press here and more infomation on producing papers for VSR on our web site here

All submissions must be received by March 1st 2022.
The the deadline for full papers will be May 31st 2022.

‘Transformational Moments in Social Welfare: What Role for Voluntary Action?’ by Georgina Brewis, Angela Ellis Paine, Irene Hardill, Rose Lindsey and Rob Macmillan.

A new free book is available on Open Access on Open Access from Policy Press which is described below by Marilyn Taylor of the Institute of Voluntary Action Research as

“Thoroughly researched and timely, this book provides a much-needed and welcome historical perspective to debates about the future of welfare in the UK today.”

During the consolidation of the welfare state in the 1940s, and its reshaping in the 2010s, the boundaries between the state, voluntary action, the family and the market were called into question. This interdisciplinary book explores the impact of these ‘transformational moments’ on the role, position and contribution of voluntary action to social welfare. It considers how different narratives have been constructed, articulated and contested by public, political and voluntary sector actors, making comparisons within and across the 1940s and 2010s.

With a unique analysis of recent and historical material, this important book illuminates contemporary debates about voluntary action and welfare.

Updated call for short contributions: understanding the voluntary sector’s role in shaping place, AND, the role of place in shaping the nature of voluntary sector leadership

We warmly invite suggestions for contributions to the first of two workshops supported by VSSN* aiming to shape an emerging agenda on understanding the voluntary sector’s role in shaping place, AND, the role of place in shaping the nature of voluntary sector leadership.We would like to receive contributions for SHORT presentations on the day from BOTH academics and non-academics alike. Please send these contributions to oubs-cvsl.org.uk by end of day on 14th January.

The first event will now take place on 8 March 2022 (online, Zoom) and will be a networking and participative event. The second (ideally face to face, accessible venue TBC) will involve a more structured format, focused on developing longer contributions which might constitute the chapters within an edited book project**. The longer-term vision is to develop a network and produce the book, which might contain a smaller selection of the workshop contributions.

Overall, the questions we want to address are:
• What difference does place make? Which characteristics of a place enable voluntary sector leadership to make a difference?
• What difference does voluntary sector leadership make to place?
• How does leadership influence and shape place through sharing leadership with other actors – formally and informally?

We are interested in discussing how you, through your work or personal engagements, think about how, when and why voluntary sector leadership is influential in some places and not in others. What is it about a place, or place in general, that enables voluntary sector leadership to make a difference? And finally, how does place change as a result?

Our starting point is perhaps best summed up in our recent paper published in Leadership (Rees et al 2021). We argue that voluntary sector leadership is networked and collaborative, and makes a real difference to the nature of activity and outcomes in a place. At the same time, something about the place influences the way the voluntary sector operates, and how it subsequently ‘leads’(or doesn’t) within a place. Our vision of leadership is inclusive and collective, not necessarily hierarchical (although it may be that too). Traditionally, voluntary sector infrastructure plays an important role in local areas, but hasn’t been widely explored in the academic literature (see Dayson et al., 2018). When we talk about ‘leadership’ we don’t mean solely leadership vested in a position or person, but instead advance an account that is relational, is created in a collective context, and is rooted in practice – this account, we believe, fits well with how voluntary sector place leadership actually occurs (see Terry et al., 2019).

To join the workshops:

We want to encourage as many contributions as possible to the first workshop, but in order to ensure it is coherent and useful to everyone, we ask you to submit a brief ‘elevator pitch’describing what you want to talk about. Please send an email to us with approx. 200 words describing your idea, and we will then develop this with you.

Our aim is to have a number of short and lively contributions at the workshop — 5 to 10 minutes each depending on numbers and we especially welcome different formats, including visual and story-telling, as well as allowing extra time for discussion and informal conversation.

Please send the email to oubs-cvsl@open.ac.uk

Best wishes,

Carol Jacklin-Jarvis and James Rees

(CVSL, Open University) (ICRD, University of Wolverhampton)

*This has been made possible thanks to generous support from a VSSN development opportunity grant,
**At this point, we have outline agreement with BUP/PP for an edited book on Place Leadership. We MAY invite contributors to the workshops to contribute individually or together to the book, but we also want it to be collaborative and not to close down other possibilities for publishing or further collaborating.

VSSN New Researchers Online Support Session 8th December 2021 1pm-2pm

In our final session of 2021, we will focus on sharing experiences from the year and look ahead to 2022. We’ll also share some information and feedback about the 2021 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research (VSVR) conference and the New Researcher sessions that took place there.

The meetings are an informal and open space for people to bring their interests, questions, successes, and worries. You do not have to have attended any of the previous sessions to come along to this one and you also do not have to be a member of VSSN. We do encourage you to join though and you can find out more about that here.

Agenda
• Introductions, sharing of the good and not so good of the research journey – we usually devote around half of the meeting to this (20-30 minutes)
• Feedback from the VSVR conference and looking ahead to 2022 – what can VSSN do to better support new researchers including in these online sessions (15-20 minutes)
If you’d like to contribute your thoughts ahead of the meeting we’ve also developed a very short survey which you can access here:
• Wrap-up and looking forward to 2022 (5 minutes)

Joining information
The session will be hosted on Microsoft Teams. To register please CLICK HERE
For any further information or questions please contact: Daniel.haslam@open.ac.uk

Looking forward to seeing you in December.

Best wishes,

VSSN New Researchers Organising Group.

Activism and Voluntary Sector Research: two sides of the same coin or different currencies: Tuesday, 16th November: 11.00-4.00

In this one day on-line event, we will explore the relationship between activism and voluntary sector research. We invite presentation proposals from academia and from practice that illuminate the potential and challenges of integrating personal activism and voluntary sector research. Many voluntary sector researchers are motivated to produce research that contributes to social change and reflects their own commitment to challenge social norms, but institutional pressures, performance measures, and ideas about what constitutes ‘good research’ often mitigate against such integration.

This free event will explore:
• The divide between voluntary sector studies and activist research
• The potential for integrating personal activism and voluntary sector research
• Research methodologies for integrating activism and voluntary sector research
• The challenges of integrating activist goals into a successful research career
• The opportunities presented by the current emphasis on knowledge exchange and research
impact in higher education.

The final programme can be found here: VSSN Day Programme – 16.11.21.

Policy Press have created a special collection of free Voluntary Sector Review articles for the VSSN Activism and Voluntary Sector Research Day Event. These articles are free to access until 30 November. VSSN Day Seminar Nov 2021 Special Collection

Bookings are still open, please use the form below and there is no charge

To become a member of the VSSN network, please go to vssn.org.uk/join.

Online links for the morning and afternoon sessions will be sent one week before the event.

Looking at Emotion and Feelings in Voluntary Sector Work, by Mike Aiken

It simply isn’t true to say that all the best ideas in the voluntary sector start with a few people meeting in a busy café over a coffee and snack. That’s because you also need someone to jot down random ideas on a serviette! Then you need to type in a diary reminder for a Zoom call next week. And don’t forget to email and WhatsApp all the people and networks you’ve ever known who might be interested in the idea.

Well, that is pretty much the back story behind setting up three seminars – held between October 2020 and July 2021 – on the role of emotion and feelings in voluntary action. Our bold idea was to ‘open up the practitioner and academic gaze to the importance of understanding…the realm of feelings and emotion within the practice and research on the community, voluntary and co-operative sector.’ Call it interdisciplinary if you prefer. We certainly had quite a lot to scribble on our serviettes!

But what came out of this series? Certainly, voluntary sector work with refugees and migrants raised complex feelings for many. A researcher might face conflicts between their professional role and their compassion in certain fairly closed institutional settings as Joanne Vincent’s work suggested in our first seminar. In addition, volunteers that generously offered a space for a migrant in their own home might, as Pierre Montforte’s research indicated, also face complex emotional dilemmas.

The ‘workload’ involved in some volunteer activity – from search and rescue operations (highlighted by Craig Needham) to community work in sports clubs (identified by Chris Mills) and sewing clubs (researched by Beverley Gilbert) – can become onerous. But it sometimes involves little emotional support.

Within larger voluntary organisations, long hours of working or volunteering with little supervision can be hard to challenge in the face of the important cause (as Conor Twyford’s work suggested). Meanwhile, leadership issues remained important in Rachel McGrath’s analysis as well as the toolkits and organisational processes to support staff and volunteers discussed by Anne-Marie Greene.

Marilyn Taylor drew attention to emotions in community action and how notions of place and local sensibilities could be in conflict with different ‘rational’ knowledges held by, for example, city developers. Meanwhile Julian Manley, identified and analysed dilemmas within volunteering through the use of psychosocial approaches to the role of affect and vocation.

These three events – kick started by a small grant offered by VSSN – were organised by Vita Terry, Mike Aiken and Julian Manley with administrative support from Alina Belousova. With the outbreak of the Covid virus in March 2020, the whole series went on-line but still attracted over 80 attendees in total. These included researchers and practitioners from the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand and beyond.

For those who weren’t able to take part in the live events, some videos and programme notes have been made available on the VSSN website. Do check them out here: https://www.vssn.org.uk/video-archive/emotion-and-feelings-in-voluntary-sector-work-seminars/].

There is clearly a lot more that we can learn from cross-disciplinary approaches involving voluntary sector work and the psychosocial realm of feelings and emotions. So we are hoping to follow up the seminars with publications that have emerged from this work. Watch this space! Meeting up to develop further collaborations between practitioners and researchers across these fields could also offer us important learning.

So, when you next go for that inspirational coffee in a busy cafe, don’t forget to carry a pen and find a serviette!

Successful development opportunity grants about to go live!

We are proud to announce the results of the latest round of development opportunity grants 2021. The successful proposals are described below and we encourage members to get involved in the activities and contact those delivering the projects.

Susanne Martikke: Acknowledging complexity, learning from failure – Greater Manchester Third Sector Research Network event about evaluation and learning

Evaluation and learning is a dominant form of research in the voluntary sector (VCSE) and directly relates to practice and the relationship between organisations and funders. GMCVO worked with six members of the Greater Manchester Third Sector Research Network to develop a proposal for an event that aims to start a dialogue between researchers and practitioners about the potential of moving beyond presenting polished accounts of success stories towards a nuanced appreciation that every successful project contains elements of potential or real failure. While the current funding environment incentivises a focus on successes, there is reason to believe that real learning not only about what works but how it works will only be unlocked when more attention is paid to the complexity involved in voluntary sector delivery. Doing so may not only benefit VCSE delivery, but also the field of voluntary sector studies.

The full-day event, which is currently envisaged as a face-to-face event in spring 2022, will have a Greater Manchester focus and will bring together VCSE practitioners and researchers from frontline organisations and support organisations with funders and commissioners. It will aim to include both VCSE managers and frontline staff, as well as volunteers and people accessing VCSE services.

The event will combine open and entertaining presentations about learning from failure on the one hand and smaller working groups where experiences and approaches to integrating a learning culture into daily work can be discussed in a protected atmosphere. Providing a safe space will encourage participants to reflect about the problem-solving that is inherent in delivering projects in order to begin developing their own stories about “failure”.

Dr. Carol Jacklin- Jarvis and Dr. James Rees: Voluntary Sector Place Leadership: setting the agenda and sharing knowledge between practice and academia

We will use the VSSN Development opportunity grant to hold two exploratory knowledge exchange workshops on the topic of Place Leadership. Rather than following a conventional conference format with separate presentations, these workshops will draw on insights from knowledge exchange theory to model a format that gives equal space to story-telling from the front line and theoretical insights, with the aim of generating new knowledge for practice and academia. We plan to hold these face to face in the East and West Midlands of England in early 2022, but we will move them online if necessary. We will advertise the events widely within our own academic networks as well as through VSSN, NAVCA and other voluntary sector networks in order to attract practitioners to explore their experiences and challenges in shaping place and to reach academics with an interest in bringing a theoretical perspective to the topic. Ultimately, we hope the workshops will lead to an edited book and we have been in discussion with Policy Press about this.

Emily Lau: A short documentary on the value of place leadership in small communities by Food Friends

Food Friends will use the VSSN Development grant to film a short documentary about the value of place leadership in small communities. During the pandemic, Food Friends a small project tackling poverty and isolation was able to pivot its operations to work with other food projects, secure emergency funding and work with some of those most vulnerable in their community. Lessons learned from the way local project leaders and small organisations responded during the crisis are important for planning and funding projects into the future.

VSSN New Researchers Online Forum

VSSN New Researchers Online Forum
23rd August 2021
1pm-2pm

Following on from our first session of 2021 in April, this session will continue to offer a supportive environment for new researchers to share their experiences.

As always, these meetings are an informal and open space for people to bring their interests, questions, successes, and worries. You do not have to have attended any of the previous sessions to come along to this one and you also do not have to be a member of VSSN. We do encourage you to join though and you can find out more about that here.

In this meeting we’ll briefly look ahead to the Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research (VSVR) Conference in September and give an overview of what it’s like to attend the New Researchers sessions there. For more information on the conference and to book, click here.

We also plan to have some breakout groups in which attendees give a ‘three-minute pitch’ on a topic of their choosing. If you’re presenting at VSVR this can help you to refine your content and if you’re not this will be a useful exercise for any future presentations that you might give.

Structuring your ‘three-minute pitch’.

These are typically structured as an overview of your research as a whole, but you could also focus on something specific, for example your approach to data collection, analysis, or position as a researcher.

Think about:
• Your title – clear and succinct
• The focus of your research/presentation – why is this topic/aspect important?
• Background or context – academic literature and/or practice – what has come before your work and
informed it?
• Key themes, issues, findings, or questions you might have
• Implications – for your research project or more widely for academia (what’s your contribution?), for practice,
for policy.

There is no ‘right way’ to do this so we’ll just give it a go!

Agenda
• Introductions and sharing of the good, not so good, frustrating, and infuriating about research! We usually devote around half of the meeting time to this (20-30 minutes).

• An overview of the VSVR conference including how it works and what it’s like to attend as a new researcher (5-10 minutes).

• The ‘three-minute pitch’ – depending on numbers we will break into smaller groups to discuss our pitches (20-30 minutes).

• Feedback, wrap-up and what’s next (5-10 minutes).

Joining information
The session will be hosted on Zoom. To register please visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYvcOqsqz0sHNeNvN4Gu2ohSYsCH8K5-f4x

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For any further information or questions please contact: Daniel.haslam@open.ac.uk

Looking forward to seeing you on the 23rd of August!

Best wishes,

VSSN New Researchers Organising Group.

Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) Online Day Conference: Volunteering in a Global Pandemic

VSSN Spring Day Conference Report: Volunteering in a Global Pandemic

This year’s Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) Spring day conference was hosted by the Institute for Volunteering Research at University of East Anglia in Norwich, hosted in collaboration with the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) and the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (FORUM) and the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC).

The focus of the day was ‘Volunteering in a Global Pandemic’. Dr Carol Jacklin-Jarvis, Director of the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership in the Faculty of Business and Law at the The Open University, and VSSN Steering Group member, wrote the following:

In this extended day event VSSN researchers and practitioners from the UK heard directly from volunteer-involving and volunteer support agencies around the globe, with presentations from the Americas, Asia and the Pacific region, and Africa and Europe.  The inclusion of different voices from so many different contexts highlighted the impact of volunteering during the pandemic on a vast range of challenges.  From India, we heard about the role volunteers played in supplying oxygen. From Peru, we heard about the support that volunteer psychologists gave to women in domestic abuse situations.  From Trinidad and Tobago, we heard about the development of a volunteer e-mentoring service.  There were multiple stories from around the globe of voluntary action in local communities to provide food, assuage loneliness, and provide a support structure to meet local needs.  Indeed, it was this everyday and yet extraordinary, often informal and self-organised local community support that was perhaps the most dominant theme of the day – described by one participant as ‘love in motion’

A second theme was the implications for volunteering support and infrastructure organisations of this growth in informal community-based voluntary action – in a context where many more formal volunteer-involving organisations have had to limit their services due to lockdown.  Several participants reflected on how their organisations might harness the growth in community-based, neighbourly action, but also recognised that the relationship between community action and the formal part of the sector is by no means straightforward.  In the words of one of our participants, there is a ‘fine line between encouragement and interference’. Understanding and working along that fine line in very different contexts poses a challenge for volunteer alliances and infrastructure agencies.  Participants talked about the importance of the  ‘volunteering ecosystem’, ‘tendrils of association’, the ‘intersectionality of formal and informal’, and the enabling environment, but also reflected on very different political contexts and the impact of those contexts on structuring support to volunteers.  An example was the discussion of national volunteer strategies (or their absence) and differences in regulation.

A third significant theme was the role of digital in enabling volunteering during the pandemic and the importance of digital for the future of volunteering.  Digital technology makes things possible and engages people in new ways (as our global discussion illustrated).  Tech enables a ‘mobility of knowledge’ and participants gave examples as to how volunteering activity developed and grew through, for example, social media, and online volunteering. However, tech can also marginalise, and this needs working through in the future to ensure a move to digital does not further exclude those who are already marginalised.  In one example, we heard about partnerships between business and schools to give children access to technology, but it’s not clear whether such partnerships will continue beyond the pandemic.

The final theme of the day was partnerships and collaborative working.  We heard of great examples of collaboration between volunteers and business, and volunteer-involving organisations and government.  But this was where the darker side of pandemic volunteering also emerged – the absence of government support in some cases and the failure of centralised volunteering schemes; gaps between government and sector-led support and services; and questions about the legitimate role of volunteers in state welfare.

This was an extraordinary day – hearing directly from people involved in making volunteering happen around the globe.  It reminded us all of the kindness and generosity of so many during the pandemic, but, looking ahead, also posed important questions for research and practice – about the future of community-based volunteering and its relationship with formalised volunteer-involving organisations; the role of volunteering in future state welfare; and the shape of future volunteer infrastructure.

The panellists were kind enough to record position statements which are available to view here, which helped us get the conversation started. They are very powerful, so we encourage you to view them if you are interested in diverse perspectives about the role of volunteering in a global pandemic.

Seminar 3: Emotion and Feelings in Voluntary Sector Work: Thursday 1st July (10am – 12.30pm) 2021 Register now!!

Here are the details for the third and final seminar in our series. Emotion and feelings in community, voluntary and social enterprise sector work! It will run 10 – 12.30 am on Thursday 1st July. Join us, contribute to the discussions, and make contact with other people in a wider network who are interested in these themes

Please register, whether as a presenter or a participant, with the link below to confirm your place. It’s free! But you’ll work hard! Follow this link to register: https://emotions-and-feelings-in-voluntary-sector.eventbrite.co.uk

These seminars are organised by: Dr Vita Terry, Dr Julian Manley, Dr Mike Aiken and Alina Belousova and funded by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network. (https://www.vssn.org.uk)

Speakers:

Marilyn Taylor (Visiting Research Fellow, I.V.A.R) has a long track record of research in relation to community policy and practice and has published widely on this subject for academic, policy and practice audiences. Her work has included: evaluations of several national community programmes; research with IVAR on place-based funding and small charities; and acting as a learning partner for the Community Organiser Programmes.

Julian Manley (UCLAN, Preston) researches human relations and social innovation from a psycho-social perspective.