All posts by Tony Chapman

The Social Process of Supporting Small Charities

Small charities make a big contribution to wellbeing in local communities and as recent research has shown, they can be effective at supporting people who are hard to reach, hard to hear and hard to help than bigger charities or public sector organisations and agencies.

The Lloyds Bank Foundation ‘Grow’ project was devised to support small charities with income below £75,000 which were ineligible for support through the Foundation’s existing programmes. This research report explains how these charities responded to support offered to them by specialist consultants.

There have been several initiatives in the past to help small charities to become stronger, bigger and more sustainable, and to encourage them work together to increase their impact. These are all ‘big asks’ and charities often resist attempts by outsiders to change them. But there is little good evidence to make sense of the ‘social processes’ involved in providing such support and explanations for how charities respond.

This report attempts to help fill that gap in our understanding by exploring how the culture and dynamics of small charities affects their readiness to embrace change, to accept support act upon advice in several areas of development which may be important for their future wellbeing.

Small charities may lack structural complexity (unlike larger more formal organisations with a specialised division of labour and hierarchical command chains which are underpinned by bureaucratic principles and procedures) but this does not mean that their internal dynamics are simple.

The analysis hinges upon a recognition that very small charities are much more complicated social entities than immediately meets the eye.

The summary report can be accessed at this address:

The full report can be downloaded here: The Social Process of Supporting Small Charities (March 2019)

Tackling barriers to young people’s aspirations and ambitions in County Durham

durham-county-council-logoMany young people in County Durham are not achieving as much as they should as they make their journey towards adulthood. While much support is lent to young people to achieve their potential, it falls unevenly – too often being focused upon those who already have many advantages.

Recognising that this was unacceptable, Durham County Council commissioned this research via the Institute for Local Governance in 2016 to start a debate in the County on how to achieve more for young people from less advantaged backgrounds.  There is widespread belief in the UK that young people from less-advantaged backgrounds are less likely to make successful transitions to adult life because they lack aspiration and ambition.

Over-simplified explanations such as these are readily backed up with examples, garnered from observation and experience, which serve to reinforce falsehoods. With sufficient repetition these falsehoods start to ring true. To instigate discussion across all sectors, this study was undertaken to  hold up a mirror to County Durham, and ask policy makers and practitioners  to look again at the situation of young people and challenge popular narratives about young people’s presumed lack of aspiration and ambition.

Policy makers and practitioners are encouraged to consider critically the differences between ‘aspiration’ and ‘ambition’; ‘attitudes’ and ‘behaviours’; ‘attainment’ and ‘achievement’, and most crucially, ask questions about what constitutes ‘success in life’ for young people from different starting points. By doing so, it is hoped that organisations in the education, public, private and voluntary sectors will be able to focus their resources individually or in complementary ways on those young people who are most in need of support.

Professor Tony Chapman, Dr Tanya Gray, Dr Stephanie Rich and Paul Braidford were commissioned by the Institute for Local Governance to undertake a project on young people’s ambitions and aspirations in County Durham.

The report was launched on 29th March 2019 at an event at Bishop Auckland Town Hall which was opened by the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler.

A summary report on the project can be downloaded here: Tackling barriers to young people’s aspirations and ambitions in County Durham SUMMARY REPORT March 2019

The full report can be downloaded here: Understanding barriers to young people’s aspirations and ambition in County Durham (full report March 2019)

The event presentation can be downloaded here: Understanding barriers to young people presentation March 29th 2019


Who says young people in County Durham have low aspirations?

A  seminar will take place at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, DL14 7NP, between 1.00pm and 4.30pm on Friday 29th March 2019, where policy makers, practitioners and young people will be asked to consider the differences between aspiration and ambition; attainment and achievement, and ask questions about what constitutes ‘success in life’ for young people from different starting points.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd. Paul Butler will open the event by setting the scene. This seminar is needed because many young people in County Durham are not achieving as much as they should while they make their journey towards adulthood. While much support is available to young people to achieve their potential, it falls unevenly and a lack of support is often more common in less affluent communities.

The County Durham Children and Families Partnership, County Durham Economic Partnership and the Institute for Local Governance, who are jointly hosting the event recognise that the aspirations and ambitions of our young people are vital for our communities’ success, whilst acknowledging the challenges and barriers our young people continue to face.

Recognising these challenges, both the County Durham Children and Families Partnership and the County Durham Economic Partnership commissioned research via the Institute of Local Governance, to start a debate in Durham on how to achieve more for young people from less advantaged backgrounds.

The research was led by Professor Tony Chapman, Director of Policy&Practice at St Chad’s College, Durham University.  A summary report of the research can be downloaded here: Tackling barriers to young people’s aspirations and ambitions in County Durham SUMMARY REPORT March 2019  The full report will be published on the day of the conference.

To instigate discussion across all sectors and with our young people, this research holds up a mirror to County Durham, and asks partners to look again at the situation of young people and challenge popular narratives about young peoples presumed lack of aspiration and ambition.

By doing so, it is hoped that organisations will be able to focus their resources individually, or in complementary ways, on those young people who are most in need of support.

Places are limited, so if you are interested in attending the seminar, you can register your place by completing the booking form before the 18th March 2019 at:

Consumption, Recycling and Waste

How to capitalise on secondary markets in North East England & Cumbria

A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance at Council Chamber, North Tyneside Council, Quadrant, Cobalt Business Park, North Shields, NE27 0BY

Friday 15th March 2019, 9.30 – 13.00

For too long, North East England was a throw-away society – but in recent years, the region has been learning to think again before dispensing with material resources which could have a second life or using up resources that, once gone, cannot be replaced.

In debates on patterns of consumption, waste and recycling, attention often turns first to issues surrounding the reduction in energy use and diminishing the need for waste disposal. These issues are, of course, vitally important – but under the surface of these headline issues lays much complexity and indeed opportunity.

This seminar took a fresh look at patterns of consumption by focusing on how to encourage people to recognise the value of using and wasting less. But in so doing, the debate must also explore what is understood by the term waste and explore which of its constituents might more properly be described as resources if they are handled well.

By using the term ‘secondary resources’ the seminar will encourage participants across all sectors to consider those good practices they already adopt but do not necessarily recognise as environmentally valuable. And, as importantly, to think again about how, if awareness is raised, such practices might be adopted in new contexts.

The seminar, which was chaired by Colin MacDonald: Senior Manager, Technical & Regulatory Services, North Tyneside Council, had a number of speakers who addressed the issue of consumption and waste from a number of stand points.

  • Professor Mike Crang, Department of Geography, Durham University: on the current situation and how to increase awareness of secondary markets for materials.
  • Stuart Foster, Chief Executive Officer, RECOUP: on the plastic recycling journey and the use of recycled plastics in manufacturing.
  • Robin Osterley, Chief Executive Officer, Charity Retail Association: on the social, economic and environmental contribution of charity shops.
  • Stephen Armstrong, Programme Manager, Groundwork North East: on changing public attitudes to issues surrounding consumption, waste and recycling.

This was the first of two seminars in this series.  A second seminar will take place in Redcar and Cleveland in the summer on the issue of ‘circular economies’.

Seminar presentations can be downloaded here:

Stuart Foster – ILG Seminar 15th March

Stephen Armstrong ILG Seminar 15 March 2019

Robin Osterley – ILG Seminar 15th March 2019

Mike Crang – ILG Seminar 15th March

The Institute for Local Governance is a North East Research and Knowledge Exchange Partnership established in 2009 comprising the North East region’s Universities, Local Authorities, Police and Fire and Rescue Services. Further information about the content of the event can be obtained by contacting:- or

Whatever happened to the North East?

A new academic article by Professors Keith Shaw (Northumbria University) and Fred Robinson (Policy&Practice) shows that governance in the English regions has been undermined and weakened by recent structural changes.

Although well established during the New Labour era, the regional level of governance in England did not survive the post-2010 process of institutional churn shaped by economic austerity and central government’s aversion to the regional level. This has subsequently led to rescaling to the sub-regional level and the introduction of devolution ‘deals’ involving new combined authorities with elected mayors.

This article looks at the experience of North East England, where regional structures have been broken up and the region disempowered by such changes. It reviews what has happened to governance in the North East over the past 20 years and discusses why the dismantling of regional governance matters.

While the region’s external relationships with central government are problematic, it is also argued that governance problems within the region are no less important and need reforming. Longitudinal research indicates that organisations providing public services in the North East have continued to be characterised by inadequate accountability, unrepresentative governance and lack of transparency.

The combined effects of the devolutionary consequences of Brexit and the ineffectiveness of small-scale ‘devo-deal’ interventions mean that the ‘Regionalist case’ in England will need to be refashioned and restated. The article concludes by considering the case for reintroducing regional-level governance and points to ways of bolstering the accountability and effectiveness of this level of sub-national governance.

Shaw, K. and Robinson F. (2019) ‘Whatever happened to the North East? Reflections on the end of regionalism in England’, Local Economy 33(8): 842-861.


Policy&Practice Annual Report 2018

Policy&Practice has had a productive year.  Projects have been completed for the National Lottery in an evaluation of a project in the Our Bright Future programme,  the evaluation of a National Youth Agency project for The Money Advice Service and a project on how to work with the third sector for the Economic and Social Research Council.  And new projects have started for Power to Change, Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, and Auckland Castle Trust.

Several more reports have been published this year from the Third Sector Trends study – which will start its fifth round of surveys in 2018 – representing over ten years of intensive study.  Two studies were published with IPPR North with groundbreaking data on the contribution of business to the third sector  and on the value of volunteering to local charities.  A study was also published on community business as a prelude for more intensive research in 2019 for Power to Change. The Third Sector Trends project, which covers the whole of the North of England has become increasingly influential on thinking about how best to support and fund charities in the North.

Policy&Practice has also continued to organise and host events across the North East of England with the Institute for Local Governance, including seminars on arts and heritage, community business, social isolation, the future of town centres, amongst other things.

To read about our past, current and future work in detail, you can download our report here: Policy&Practice Annual Report 2018

Let’s talk about value: how universities create value for students, staff and society

St Chad’s College Lunchtime Lecture, Wednesday 30th January, 12.30 – 1.30 p.m.

Carol Adams, Professor of Accounting in Durham University Business School, will consider the appropriateness of measures of university performance.  Her talk will be based upon her recent report: ‘Let’s Talk Value: How Universities create value for students, staff and society’.  In her lecture, Carol will ask what universities create for society and how that can be better communicated.

Professor  Adams is an expert in integrated reporting, social and environmental accounting, sustainability reporting and developing strategy to address sustainable development.  She is founding editor of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal and writes on her website at

Carol has been involved in various global corporate reporting initiatives and is currently a member of the ACCA’s Global Forum on Sustainability, the ICAS Sustainability Panel, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board’s Technical Working Group and she is Chair of the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative.

She was a member of the Capitals Technical Collaboration Group for the International Integrated Reporting Council. She has also served as a Director and Council Member of AccountAbility and was involved in the development of the first AA1000 Framework.

Carol is an experienced non-executive director and consults to multinational corporations and other organisations on corporate reporting and integrating sustainability into business practices. She has led the development of internationally award winning management and governance processes and sustainability reports

Third Sector Trends 2018-2020

Third Sector Trends is a longitudinal study which was established in 2008.  As such it is the longest running research programme of its kind in the UK.  The work is to continue from 2018-2020 thanks to the support of the Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

The impact of the study is considerable as it informs voluntary and community organisations, cooperatives, community businesses and social enterprise about the wellbeing and direction of the sector.  Its results are also widely used by policy makers and funding bodies.

The original aim of the Third Sector Trends study, when commissioned by Northern Rock Foundation, was to examine objectively the structure and dynamics of the third sector in North East England. In 2015, the Community Foundation assumed responsibility for the study and its legacy and took it forward working with JRF, Garfield Weston and IPPR North.

The work has included both quantitative and qualitative analysis and in the early stages involved the Universities of Durham, Teesside and Southampton.

The TSO1000 survey

The longest running aspect of the study is its biennial survey of the sector which will enter its fifth iteration in 2019. The large scale study now collects data from right across the North of England allowing for in-depth analysis of more than 3,500 respondents. It is expected that, in addition to the North East England study, the research will continue in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber in 2019.

The TSO50 study

A second strand of the work is a longitudinal study of a cohort of 40 third sector organisations in North East England. This began in 2010 and has continued to 2018. Analysis of this very detailed study will proceed in 2019 alongside the survey work.

The role and impact of charitable foundations

Additionally in 2019, a study of the third sector from the point of view of charitable foundations will take place. This research, which will include 15-20 charitable grant making foundations based in or beyond the North East region, will  examine the approaches taken to funding and will pay special attention to its likely impact on localities throughout the region.

The study has produced many reports which are available at this address:

The Value of Volunteering in the North.

Today IPPR North publishes a new report on volunteering in Northern England by Professor Tony Chapman,  Policy&Practice and Jack Hunter, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Based on research findings from the Third Sector Trends study, the report recognises that the volume of voluntary activity in the north is enormous – about 930,000 people regularly volunteer and deliver over 76m hours of work.

The bulk of volunteering is organised through the tiny charities and groups. Those with income below £10,000 produce about a third of all volunteering opportunities, and over two thirds of volunteering hours happen in small organisations with an annual income below £100,000.

The report shows that It’s not just about the volume of time that volunteers give, it’s about the ‘quality’ of their contribution and the ‘depth’ of the social impact it achieves. The bedrock of civil society is its core of small and informal groups where people have come together to make a difference to their local areas. Most of these organisations have no employees and their financial resources are often very limited. But they survive and thrive because of the hours of work put in by their unpaid volunteers.

‘Good Friends’ service volunteers at Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington



Policy makers are urged to recognise that it can be difficult to assess in conventional evaluation terms the impact of small charities that work with and rely upon volunteers the most. But just because it is hard to measure their contribution does not mean that it should not be valued – so national and local funders need to keep this in mind when allocating money to local charities – they may not be able to measure the impact of what they do – but they would, like as not, be able to recognise the loss to the locality if they were no longer there.

A blog by Tony Chapman on the research findings can be read here:

And the full report is available from IPPR North, The Value of Volunteering in the North

How do community businesses compare with other voluntary and community organisations?

People are often confused by the complexity of civil society. For example there are so many ways of describing what is sometimes known as the ‘third sector’, ‘voluntary, community and social enterprise sector’ or ‘civil society sector’. This problem is compounded when we try to define specific types of organisations. Community business is a case in point: how are these organisations defined, and how do they differ from others such as social enterprises or community or voluntary organisations?

This new report looks at where community businesses sit within this wide range of organisational types and draws a distinction between them and other third sector organisations (TSOs) which engage in trading or those which have no reliance on earned income. to the report helps readers to recognise what is special about community businesses, how they contribute directly to their localities and what opportunities and challenges they face compared with other types of TSO.

The report presents data from the 2016 Third Sector Trends study which covers the whole of the North of England. It is a large long-running study with more than 3,500 responses of which 612 survey respondents (17% of the sample) were identified as community businesses. As a category of organisations, community businesses tend to be larger than other TSOs (60% have income over £100,000 compared with just 27% of general charities that earn some of their income). They tend to have been established more recently (47% since 2000 compared with 35% of general charities that earn income). Community businesses are more likely to work in urban areas, and particularly deprived urban areas.

Read the report: Community Business in the North of England (2018) Policy&Practice

A blog is also available from Power to Change and Policy&Practice By Suzanne Perry, Tony Chapman and Tanya Gray which can be located here