All posts by Tony Chapman

The contribution of the voluntary sector to health and wellbeing in Humber, Coast and Vale

Policy&Practice has been commissioned by the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership to provide robust intelligence on the work of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE).

Its aim is to inform debate on how to enhance understanding of the impact the VCSE makes through formal partnership working arrangements, by delivering services under contract, and by undertaking activities of a complementary nature that sustain or strengthen the health and wellbeing of the local population.

The area studies includes the following unitary local authorities and county council districts: East Riding of Yorkshire, City of Kingston upon Hull, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and the unitary authority City of York, together with six of seven North Yorkshire County Council Districts: Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby.

The analysis builds on work published in 2021 for West Yorkshire Combined Authority, together with the Health and Care Partnerships for West Yorkshire and Harrogate, and Humber, Coast and Vale, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, Community First Yorkshire, and Two Ridings Community Foundation.

This research aims to dig deeper into the available data on VCSE sector activity in Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership area in order to explore the purpose and extent of support provided and to find out where such support is distributed. It is hoped that the report will help inform debate about the role the VCSE can or should play in supporting health and wellbeing in communities.

In area context, the final report will explore the extent to which VCSE organisations engage directly with local authorities and health organisations by delivering public services under contract and engaging in formal partnership working arrangements.

Early analysis indicates that formal contracts to deliver public services only represents the tip of the iceberg of the overall contribution of the VCSE sector. Consequently, the research will  also looks at less direct contributions that VCSE organisations make to public health and wellbeing by working on issues such as building people’s confidence to manage their lives, tackling social isolation and improving access to services.

The final report will be published in February 2022.

The Structure, dynamics and potential of the voluntary sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

Policy&Practice has been commissioned to undertake a statistical analysis of the structure, dynamics and impact of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly by Voluntary Sector Forum Cornwall and the Cornwall Clinical Commissioning Group. The work is taking forward analytical approaches recently developed in a study in Yorkshire and Humber


The research. which is being undertaken by Professor Tony Chapman, provides an opportunity for comparative analysis with Cornwall’s proximate neighbours and also statistical neighbours in the North of England. This helps to show how the area is different or similar from other areas which share a range of characteristics.

The purpose of the work, from a commissioners point of view, is to examine the current capacity of the local VCSE, but also to look at its potential to engage further with the strategic ambitions of Cornwall Council and local NHS health and social care organisations.

The research will be published in February 2022 and will be followed up with an online event to debate the findings and their relevance to current and future policy initiatives with VCSE and public sector stakeholders.

Evaluating the Auckland Project

The Auckland Project is a remarkable culture-led regeneration project in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. It is undoubtedly an ambitious initiative, combining culture, tourism, economic development and, above all, community regeneration.  

The overarching aim is to revive the community by developing visitor attractions based on the town’s history and heritage – notably Auckland Castle, historic home of the Prince Bishops of Durham.  And it is a very unusual initiative, since it is largely funded by a philanthropist, Jonathan Ruffer who set up and financed a charitable organization to buy the Castle and its collection of Zurbaran paintings.

The whole scheme has expanded to include a heritage show (‘Kynren’), a Mining Art Gallery, a Spanish art gallery, the remains of Vinovium Roman fort and the Weardale Railway – all funded by Jonathan Ruffer.

Professor Fred Robinson and Ian Zass-Ogilvie from St Chad’s College have been commissioned by The Auckland Project and the National Lottery Heritage Fund to undertake an evaluation of the restoration and development of Auckland Castle. Work on the Castle, the associated Faith Museum and linked community outreach activities was supported by a grant of £12.4m from the NLHF.

The Final Report of the evaluation has now been submitted to The Auckland Project and NLHF. It tells the story of the challenges faced in delivering the project, and provides a detailed and informed account of what has been achieved so far. It is the only commissioned evaluation of the work of The Auckland Project.

Fred Robinson said:

“It’s been fascinating working alongside The Auckland Project and seeing this take shape. There have been lots of challenges and frustrations – as well as the problems and delays brought about by the pandemic. We’ve identified lessons from experience, while focusing on the substantial achievements of The Auckland Project. One thing that everyone has learnt is that it’s going to take a long time to revive Bishop Auckland – and it’s a complex process”.

The Report can be downloaded here

The difference the third sector makes

Research shows big difference charities, social enterprises and community organisations make across the Yorkshire and Humber region

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership and Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, and Community First Yorkshire have published a joint report today (Thursday 2 September) to celebrate the work of charities, social enterprises, and community organisations ahead of International Charity Day on Sunday 5 September.

The research led by Professor Tony Chapman of Policy&Practice, St Chad’s College, Durham University on the structure, dynamics, and impact of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector across the area, highlights the big contribution made to the economy and the health and well-being of people who live here.

The VCSE sector in West Yorkshire and Harrogate includes around 14,900 registered and unregistered groups supporting local people in many areas of their lives from youth groups, ageing well support, sports, and wellbeing clubs to name a few. The sector employs around 43,100 full time equivalent posts, which makes up 3.7% of employment across the area.

On top of this there are an estimated 147,000 regular volunteers giving their time and energy to good causes helping young and old people to live their best life possible, around the clock, 365 days per year.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said: ‘The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector does amazing work across the region. I’m extremely thankful for all the support they offer to people living across West Yorkshire, especially those local unsung heroes who often give up their free time to volunteer in their communities whether it’s coaching a community sports team, teaching at a young people’s theatre group, or helping at a local foodbank. The sector gives invaluable support to those who wouldn’t otherwise receive it and it is right the report sets out the hard work and commitment of individuals working in the sector who regularly share their life experience to help others – it’s commendable and each organisations and every person has my heartfelt thanks and support’.   

Jo-Anne Baker, WY&H HCP Harnessing the Power of Communities Lead said: ‘The sector is larger than the finance and insurance industries, and larger than the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. The significant contribution made by the VCSE sector to people’s health and community wellbeing is evidenced throughout the research. This not only contributes to financial savings for the NHS and other public services but produces immediate benefits for thousands and thousands of people accessing their help and support’.

The report acknowledges it is hard to measure the total added value the sector produces.  Based on available data, this equates to approximately £1.6 billion per year. If taken alongside the economic value of the sector, this means the total added value of the sector is between £5.2 billion and £6.2 billion per year in West Yorkshire and Harrogate alone.

The use of conventional metrics on productivity only partially captures the value of the sector because the benefit to communities and difference made to people’s lives is unmeasurable.  The report presents new ways of making effective and shared judgements on sector value which draws heavily upon findings from the Third Sector Trends study which has been running since 2008.

The full report is available here: The structure, dynamics and impact of the VCSE (Final Report)

A blog on how to make judgements on the added value produced by the third sector can be found here:


Going the extra mile, how business supports charities

Research conducted for the Law Family Commission on Civil Society by Policy&Practice shows that businesses donated services and funds worth an estimated £2.4billion in 2019 to small charities and community groups – equating to around 0.06% of private sector turnover.

This includes £1.9bn in financial donations and around £474million worth of pro bono support such as legal services, in-kind donations such as the use of office space and employee-supported volunteering.

The study found that on average businesses across England donated £456 each year to charities and community groups with annual income below £25m. While there are many examples of businesses and civil society working closely together, this latest research suggests there are significant gaps in the relationship and that the partnership is not operating at its full potential.

The detailed study of 4,000 organisations by University of Durham’s Professor Tony Chapman for the Commissio

n also found that:

  • Businesses give most support to charities for children and young people and focus attention mainly on poorer urban areas. Those charities that serve the interests of carers and people with learning difficulties are most likely to say that business supports them well, while those which serve BAME and rural communities are the least likely to be well supported.
  • Charities and community groups which received support from business are generally positive about their experiences, with 84% saying businesses trusted them to be well organised and professional.
  • Three quarters (73%) of charities and community groups say they struggle with opportunities to meet businesses.

James Timpson, CEO of Timpson and Commissioner of the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, said: “We have seen the great strides made by business in pursuit of other vital causes, such as sustainability and equal pay. The next great stride that business can take is to commit to a partnership with civil society. Investors may have a key role to play in this, as might transparency measures – as they have on other social issues. No matter how it is achieved, a strong partnership between business and civil society can only help to improve both communities and companies.”

Mitch Oliver, Global VP Brand & Purpose at Mars and Commissioner of the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, said: “It has never been more important for business and civil society to pull together. By working together, we can be stronger and accelerate the recovery from a pandemic that has sadly slowed progress in many of the areas that we all care about. The mission to secure a healthy planet, an inclusive society and a world where everyone is thriving is strengthened when business and civil society collaborate.

Nicole Sykes, Director of External Affairs at Pro Bono Economics, said: “Purpose has become a watchword in every business boardroom in recent years. Customers, investors, shareholders and employees all expect a commitment to social good. But business’ efforts will fall short if they fail to work with civil society. This new research shows that the average annual contribution to small charities from businesses in England amounts to little more than a rounding error. The average business in England donates the same amount of cash to small charities each year as they misplace from their petty cash. It’s no wonder high proportions of the public are sceptical of business’ efforts to paint themselves as about more than just profit.

Professor Tony Chapman, Director of Policy and Practice at St Chad’s College, Durham University, said: “While the financial and in-kind support business currently gives to charities is barely a fraction of business turnover, their contribution is highly valued by the organisations and groups who work well with businesses. However, relationships that are formed seem to happen mainly by accident, rather than design, so there is room for improvement on both sides of the fence to build connections between sectors at the local level.”

Chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, the Law Family Commission on Civil Society is created by Pro Bono Economics with the generous support of Andrew Law and the Law Family Charitable Foundation.

The report can be found here: Going the extra mile – how businesses work with the social sector (July 2021)

Entrepreneurial vitality and innovation in North East England

In reputational terms, North East England seems to live a double life. On one hand, the region’s distinctive political and industrial history, landscape and coast, culture, society and cityscapes are lauded and nationally valued. On the other hand, North East England has a reputation for ‘underperforming’ economically in comparative terms.

Statistically, the region does not fare as well as some other regions. Business density is more sparse, there are fewer business start-ups and productivity is lower than in many other regions. Furthermore, there are fewer jobs available per head of working population and the quality of those jobs tends to be lower than in other areas (using measures such as pay, security, skill and options for advancement). 

National measures of performance use standardized metrics irrespective of local circumstance. This can advantage some areas if they have a strong asset base. Places with fewer local resources may struggle to meet the same levels of performance – but this may not mean that they have not been successful relative to their assets.

This report looks at the situation in North East England through a more positive lens by making comparisons with other areas. It is argued that future research should avoid using ‘deficit’ models of economic potential and instead look more critically at what the region has to work with, and not what it lacks.

The research, by Tony Chapman, Tanya Gray and Sarah Green of Policy&Practice in collaboration with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership was funded by Research England.

The full report can be downloaded here: Business innovation in the context of place (July 2021)

A shorter summary report can be downloaded here: SHORT REPORT Business innovation in the context of place (July 2021)

And a presentation to the North East Economic Evidence Forum, 27th July, 2021. Enterprise and innovation in the context of place presentation 27th July 2021

New study to measure positive impact of charities and voluntary organisations across Yorkshire

Durham University research to measure the role charities play in improving people’s lives and wellbeing in the region. 

The positive effect of charity and community activities across Yorkshire is to be measured as part of a new study co-funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The study will measure the size and effect of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector, examining its economic and social impact on improving people’s lives and wellbeing in the region.

Throughout the pandemic, the VCSE sector has played an important and increasingly recognised role working in partnership with the public and private sectors, and is considered key to ensuring an inclusive economic recovery. Often also known as the ‘third sector’, it includes charities, community groups and associations, social enterprises, mutuals and co-operatives.

The research is led by Professor Tony Chapman of St Chad’s College, Durham University, an expert in the voluntary and community sector, who has undertaken similar research locally, nationally and internationally.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Throughout the pandemic, the third sector has been a lifeline for so many people both in our region and across Yorkshire. This research will recognise and celebrate the incredibly important contribution volunteers make to their local communities and economies. It will also help us understand where local leaders can work more closely with the voluntary and community sector to help improve people’s lives and wellbeing.”

Professor Chapman said: “Estimating the overall impact of the sector is undoubtedly the most challenging but also the most intellectually interesting aspect of the work to be undertaken. It also has potential to influence the way VCSE work is valued at a national level. Findings can be interpreted in the context of current policy debates around ‘levelling up’, the ‘Foundation Economy’ and community wealth building’.”

The study, which is expected to be published in the summer, will develop a fuller picture of the VSCE sector, including its size, turnover, assets, the numbers of people employed, the value of volunteering and impact.

The results will be used to better understand the scale of the social and economic value the VSCE sector creates, including cost savings resulting from improving people’s health and well-being, and improving their confidence and overall social mobility.

It has been commissioned by West Yorkshire Combined Authority in partnership with West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, Yorkshire Sports Foundation, Community First Yorkshire and Two Ridings Community Foundation.

The study covers the geographic areas of:

  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield)
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership region (Bradford district and Craven, Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield)
  • Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership region (North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Kingston-upon-Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, York and in North Yorkshire – the districts of Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby).

Going the extra mile, how business works with charities



The Law Family Commission on Civil Society has been established to do ground-breaking research to enhance the potential of civil society.  Unlike other programmes of research, the Commission aims to explore productive relationships between civil society, the state and the private sector and to find out how to maximise the benefits of current or future interactions.

Professor Tony Chapman of Policy&Practice was commissioned in January 2021 to undertake new analysis of Charity Commission and Third Sector Trends data to find out what kind, how much and where business invests in charities.

The relationship between the corporate social responsibility work of big business and the activities of major charities has already been researched quite extensively. This report does not concern itself with these major charities with annual incomes above £25m. Instead, it focuses on the third sector in more general terms – with a particular focus on small to medium sized organisations which generate the bulk of sector activity – especially at the local level.

Little is known about the volume of financial and non-financial support which business provides to the sector in general and how it is distributed across regions, amongst organisations, or within local areas with particular characteristics. Nothing much is known about the social purposes for which support is given, nor the extent to which this support is valued by third sector organisations.

The aim of this report is to begin to fill some of these gaps in our knowledge by drawing upon data from the Charity Commission register and the long-running Third Sector Trends study. Using these data, the report will offer the first substantive study of business and third sector interactions. It will explore the following issues:

  • The types and extent of business support: define what kinds of financial and non-financial support are currently provided and explore the characteristics of third sector organisations that receive support.
  • What issues does business support: to find out what issues business supports and determine whether businesses and third sector organisations share the same kinds of priorities.
  • The value of business support: reconfigure existing data to produce estimates of the financial contribution of business to third sector organisations and the proxy-values of non-financial support.
  • Regional variations in business support: present estimates on the distribution of business support regionally which takes into account variations in affluence and deprivation and the structure of the local third sector.
  • The quality of relationships with business: from a third sector perspective examine the extent to which businesses are accessible to organisations and invest time in understanding their work.
  • The extent to which organisations feel valued by business: finding out which kinds of third sector organisations are most or least likely to feel that business invests trust and energy in their activities.
  • What the future holds for sector relationships: the prospects for the development of productive relationships are considered from a third sector point of view before and after the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The original findings of this research will present a number of challenges to practitioners, commentators and policy makers in the public, private and third sectors that need to be addressed. The most important of which is the potential mis-match between the ethos, purposes and practices of sectors and how that may impede good working relationships.

It is expected that the report will be published in June 2021.



Business innovation in local context



Over several decades, North East England has borne the burden of a reputation of ‘underperforming’ economically. Certainly, in bald statistical terms, business density is more sparse, there are fewer business start-ups, and ambitions for business innovation, investment and growth are lower.

Laudable strategies and action plans have been produced over the years to tackle under-performance – but statistical indicators have proven to be difficult to shift. A problem with using national metrics is that they do not necessarily compare ‘like-with-like’.  But a risk remains that accepted narratives which point to failure and disappointment might dampen future potential in those areas which are performing less well economically.

If the use of national and regional statistical metrics represent something of a ‘blunt instrument’ when applied to areas which have particular characteristics, we need strong evidence to demonstrate that this is the case.  Certainly, the North East of England is a varied region with great expanses of rural areas in Northumberland, a major metropolitan area centred on Tyneside and Wearside and the mixed fortunes of towns on the former Durham coalfield.

This new study, to be undertaken by Professor Tony Chapman, Sarah Green and Dr Tanya Gray of Policy&Practice aims to help develop a deeper, stronger and sustainable culture of innovation in the ‘context’ of localities to ensure that achievement is fully recognised and built upon by:

  • Assessing contextualised starting points for businesses success, identifying factors which helped or hindered achievements.
  • Adopting open-minded definitions of ‘innovation in context’ (including invention, technical product/service innovation, complementary business interactions, repositioning business from client perspectives, etc.).
  • Exploring aspects of place-based entrepreneurial inspiration, the opportunities and support structures which facilitate business.
  • Recognising that area boundaries are permeable and that indigenous and endogenous growth drivers produce potential for serendipitous interactions if negative perceptions are challenged.
  • Understanding that places have different starting points and that success cannot be assessed with standard metrics and adopt an action-oriented outcome framework which learns from effective practice, locally, nationally and internationally

The first phase of the work will be funded by Research England and Durham University’s Strategic Priorities Fund. From April, North East Local Enterprise Partnership will continue support for the second phase of the project.

The project will conclude and report in December 2021.