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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 Amanda.Williams@esrc.ac.uk; tel 01793 413126

Could you transform VSSN for £3000/year?

Gareth Morgan writes, on behalf of the VSSN Steering Group…The Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) is a UK-wide charity bringing together researchers intererested in the voluntary sector. Many are based in universities (staff or research students) but our membership also include researchers based in voluntary organisations, and individual freelance researchers.

Following the huge response of VSSN members in committing to a paid subscription, the VSSN Steering Group (trustees) is now pleased to INVITE TENDERS for a part-time freelance role of Executive Officer for VSSN.

You will act as a central focus for VSSN’s work and play a key role in supporting the UK’s voluntary sector research community. This will be the first paid role in VSSN, enabling the Steering Group to move beyond what can be done on a purely voluntary basis.

The invitation to tender has some key requirements – but it is written in broad terms – we are open to various approaches to the role.

In your tender you may choose to emphasis operational support to VSSN – or on VSSN’s significant web development plans – or a combination of both. But in all cases, this is much more than a backroom role – it is a proactive role with a strong emphasis on marketing VSSN’s work and reaching new people.

We have set aside a budget of £3000 p.a. – based on a three year contract to 2010. You could be based anywhere in the UK. The tender could be won by an individual or an organisation. We know we are asking a lot for this – but the successful bidder will have a chance to play a central role in supporting voluntary sector research on a UK-wide basis at the key time of VSSN growth.

The deadline for completed tenders is Wednesday 28 February 2007.

The full text of the invitation to tender is available here (PDF format) .

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UK Charitable Giving and Philanthropy Research Centre

Peter Halfpenny, who submitted a consultation response on behalf of VSSN, writes The proposal for a UK Charitable Giving and Philanthropy Research Centre was first mooted by the government in the 2005 Home Office publication ‘A Generous Society’ (http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/third_sector/documents/community_participation/charitable_giving/gen-soc-strat.pdf).

The Centre will be established in 2007 with funding from the Office of the Third Sector, CarnegieUK Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish Executive. The Centre will support high quality research aimed at developing a better understanding of charitable giving and philanthropy, and informing policy and practice.

Four consultation workshops were held in January 2007 and written responses were invited to a consultation document (http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/uploadedFiles/NCVO/Research/Giving_Research/Research Centre consultation November 2006.doc).

VSSN’s response is available here (PDF format) .

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VSSN achieves Charity Commission registration

Gareth Morgan, VSSN Treasurer and Membership Secretary, reported today that VSSN had received confirmation that it is now a registered charity – number 1114742. He continued:-

“I think this marks the completion of quite a few steps begun in 2002/03 to move VSSN on from being an informal unconstituted network to a fully recognised body with clear governance. We actually got through in 76 days – slightly under the Charity Commission’s 90 day target – with no queries at all raised on the application.

To view VSSN’s entry on the register seehttp://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/registeredcharities/factfigures.aspx?regno=1114742

So VSSN is a registered charity in England & Wales no 1114742. There is no need to give the Inland Revenue reference now we are registered with the Charity Commission. However, as we are operating UK-wide, we need to include the words ‘registered charity in England & Wales’ to avoid the need for registering also with OSCR in respect of any members and meetings in Scotland.”

Congratulations to Gareth for leading this achievement on VSSN’s behalf.

VSSN goes regional!

by Duncan Scott – one of VSSN’s external affairs correspondents

On April 6th 2006, the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation hosted a day seminar about research and voluntary action. The event was publicised and supported by both VSSN and ARVAC. Aside from an obvious interest in its content, VSSN members might note that nearly all the main speakers (Pete Alcock, Angela Ellis Paine, Rob Macmillan, Lynne Russell and Duncan Scott) are active members of VSSN and three are on the Steering Group!

So, even whilst workshop sessions concentrated on such familiar topics as the evaluation of urban programmes and volunteering, as well as ‘doing’ qualitative research, it was an opportunity for VSSN to make itself more widely known to a regional audience of over 50 practitioners and academics.

In addition, the words and leaflets disseminated on the day have been reinforced by short articles in the March/April issue of the GMCVO `Journal`. These are an introduction to VSSN and a note on New Researchers within the Network respectively by Rob and Angela.

Inaugural annual lecture in memory of the late Jimmy Kearney

Duncan Scott (who attended on behalf of VSSN) wrote:-

On Friday Dec 2nd in Belfast over 130 people came together to celebrate the life of Jimmy Kearney, and to listen to Nicholas Deakin on the theme `Bonding, Bridging-or Dividing? Voluntary Action, Citizens and Government`.

Jimmy was clearly a remarkable, much-loved man, who contributed greatly to voluntary action both in Northern Ireland and beyond. Six speakers, from the voluntary sector, the civil service and academe (including a long-time member of VSSN, Arthur Williamson) reflected on his work as head of the Voluntary and Community unit, chair of the Volunteer Development Agency, the first Professor of Voluntary Action Studies at the University of Ulster and much more. To this (English) eye, what stood out was the close-knit nature of the Northern Irish voluntary sector. Yet, just as this generalisation appears to be a coded reference to parochiality, it quickly became clear that Jimmy Kearney`s impact was much more widely felt. In particular, it was apparent that much of the groundwork for the Compacts was undertaken by Jimmy and colleagues in Northern Ireland.

Nicholas Deakin spoke elegantly and sensitively about the potential and problems of Active Citizenship. He held the attention of an overcrowded and overheated audience for 50 minutes. What stood out were his critical hints about the complexities and contradictions of active communities. All those present could not fail to connect their direct experience of sectarian voluntary action with his remarks; these were made all the more poignant for your VSSN correspondent by his having read the lead article of the New Statesman on the morning plane. This began from a banner heading about `apartheid` in the local voluntary and community sectors. Nevertheless, Jimmy and Nicholas remained positive.

For further evidence, see Jimmy`s essays in Voluntary Action Vols 3 No 3 (2001) and Vol 6 No 1 (2003)