Category Archives: Current and Recent Research Projects

Third Sector Trends 2022

What is the study about?

Third Sector Trends began in 2008 and is the longest running study of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in the UK. The study, which takes place every three years, covers England and Wales – receiving over 4,000 responses in 2019.

The survey will be launched after the Bank Holiday weekend on Monday 6th June 2022. You will be able to clink a link here when it opens: Third Sector Trends 2022

It complements Charity Commission, NCVO Civil Society Almanac and 360Giving data to produce robust estimates on employment, volunteering, sector finance and assets. The study then looks at how the ‘energy’ the sector has at its disposal is applied to local causes.

Even though this is a large-scale study, its principal purpose is to study the structure, dynamics and impact of the ‘local’ VCSE sector. Only by looking at several areas, is it possible to understand individual localities properly.

Over the years, study has been supported by a range of funders including Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, Charity Bank, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Garfield Weston, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Millfield House Foundation, Power to Change, Northern Rock Foundation, Sport England together with several local authorities, combined authorities and the NHS.

Third Sector Trends is independent and impartial. As such it aims to provide objective interpretation of rigorously collected data to serve the interests of the voluntary sector, local public and health sector, the Lottery, charitable trusts and foundations and businesses.

What evidence does the study collect?

The survey has a core set of questions which never change to ensure comparability. But in each round of the research, there is space to explore contemporary issues. The 2022 survey has, for example, specific focus on the following issues:

  • The extent to which the Covid pandemic has reshaped and refocused VCSE sector activity.
  • The positive role the VCSE sector can play in ‘levelling up’, ‘localism’ and ‘community wealth building’ agendas.
  • The contribution the VCSE sector can make to public health and, specifically, healthy life expectancy.
  • How the VCSE helps to secure economic and social wellbeing in localities.

How are the findings used?

The study is widely used by local authorities, combined authorities, NHS partnerships and VCSE infrastructure organisations in their strategic work and policy formulation. For an example of the full set of findings from the 2019 study at a regional level, see this report:

Third Sector Trends in North West England 2020 – St Chad’s College Durham (stchads.ac.uk)

Data are also used for more in-depth work, for example, recent work in Yorkshire & Humber to show how much energy the sector has, where it focuses its activities and how much impact it achieved.

The difference the third sector makes – St Chad’s College Durham (stchads.ac.uk) and The contribution of the VCSE sector to health and wellbeing in Humber, Coast and Vale – St Chad’s College Durham (stchads.ac.uk),  

Data have also been used in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly to assess the strengths of the VCSE sector to support the development of strategies to align sector activity with NHS England priorities for Integrated Care Systems. The first of a series of reports can be found here:

Voluntary sector dynamics in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly – St Chad’s College Durham (stchads.ac.uk) 

It has also been possible to do in-depth work on aspects of sector structure and activity  which  has previously been neglected. Including, for example, issues associated with diversity in sector leadership:

Diversity and inclusion in Third Sector leadership: why is it not happening? – St Chad’s College Durham (stchads.ac.uk)

and how the VCSE sector works with the private sector:

Going the extra mile, how business supports charities – St Chad’s College Durham (stchads.ac.uk)

The survey will be launched after the Bank Holiday weekend on Monday 6th June 2022. You will be able to clink a link here when it opens

For further information, please contact Professor Tony Chapman, Director of Policy&Practice, St Chad’s College, Durham University, Email: tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk.

To get access to all the study’s reports, visit this website: Third sector trends research | Community Foundation

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

The VCSE Sector across Humber, Coast and Vale is diverse, made up of many organisations and people that deliver their services supporting a wide range of causes. The sector is a crucial element to support people with their Health and Wellbeing.

This report has been commissioned by the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership and the VCSE Leadership Group to understand more about the sector and how our geography and the places that make up Humber, Coast and Vale are served.

Professor Tony Chapman, from St Chad’s College at Durham University has worked with the VCSE Leadership Group over the last year, completing an initial look at the size and scale of the VCSE sector, which showcased the value of the sector and contribution it can make to health and wellbeing of our people.

Following this report the group asked Tony to go further and look at how the sector is split across our unique geography that has a mix of urban and rural areas and a large section of coastal communities.

The findings within this report begin to plot the VCSE sector alongside the differences we see across Humber, Coast and Vale in terms of deprivation, health inequalities and our geography. The report provides a tool for strategists to think about the approaches to take ensure the VCSE sector can play its role in supporting the health and wellbeing of Humber, Coast and Vale residents.

The full report and a shorter summary report can be downloaded here:

Voluntary sector dynamics in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Policy&Practice has published a new report on the structure and dynamics of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. The research builds on work from the Third Sector Trends study and draws on data from a wide range of sources including the Charity Commission Register and the Office for National Statistics. The study was commissioned by Voluntary Sector Forum Cornwall and NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group.

This report shows that Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has a large and productive VCSE sector. The sector is comprised of around 2,500 registered organisations and there may be as many as 3,250 additional small, local informal unregistered groups working under the radar of official statistics.

The VCSE sector in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has an income of about £219 million. This is drawn from a wide range of sources such as contracts to deliver public services, grants, self-generated earned income, gifts and donations, investments and subscriptions.

Organisations within the VCSE sector employ large numbers of staff. There are estimated to be over 4,500 full-time and 5,000 part-time employees – this amounts to 6,000 full-time equivalent staff. The VCSE sector comprises about 4 per cent of all employment in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Volunteers play a vital role in sustaining the activities of the VCSE sector – and especially so in smaller VCSE organisations. Over 70 per cent of volunteer time is delivered in small VCSE organisations (with income below £50,000). The biggest organisations (with income between £1m – £25m) only account for about 4 per cent of volunteer time.

VCSE sector activity is estimated to produce a multiplier effect of £387 million of tangible economic, fiscal and use value and £250 million of additional intangible value. It is estimated that the VCSE sector produces a ratio of 3.6 to 1 added social and economic value relative to the energy injected.

The full report is available to download here

There is also a shorter report which can be downloaded here

Telephone befriending during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic

The Bridge Project in Bradford appointed Dr Tanya Gray, Senior Research Associate in Policy&Practice to undertake a review of the pilot Together Talks programme. Together Talks uses volunteers as telephone befrienders to support people misuse to step away from intensive professional support and move towards independent lives.

This new approach to service delivery was forged to some extent from necessity. Recurrent government-imposed lockdowns made it impossible to deliver services in other ways. But the pilot programme was not devised simply as a stop-gap until things ‘got back to normal’. Instead, it was anticipated that elements of the delivery approach would outlive the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The evaluation of the programme provides clear justification for continuing with the approach post-pandemic.

Together Talks was devised to tackle aspects of loneliness and social isolation which can often accompany the recovery process once intensive support comes to an end. But the pilot’s distinctiveness derives from the presence of a shared outcome – agreed with input from three specialist strands. This makes Together Talks a highly tailored scheme, focusing in on the need of an individual, whilst at the same time actively committing to collective need.

This review confirms that the project has remained personal and proximate to the needs of individuals, perhaps best illustrated by one of the volunteer befriender interviewed: ‘The best thing is how human it has all felt, very down to earth, very real and honest and direct.’

The full report is available here:

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 https://www.stchads.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Auckland-Project-HLF-Evaluation-Final-Report-2021-1.pdf

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.