Category Archives: Research News

Valuing small charities for what they are, not what they should be

Small charities make a big contribution to personal, social and community wellbeing. So it’s not surprising that governments and big charitable foundations have been attracted to the idea of helping build their capability to do things better and their capacity to do more of it.

Over the years there have been plenty of initiatives of this kind. Evaluations tend to produce pretty positive findings – suggesting high percentage satisfaction amongst small charities with the support they’ve been given. But the extent to which they made a deep or lasting impression is open to question.

After all, small charities tend to remain small, independent minded and focused on issues that they feel that bigger organisations have ignored, neglected or even caused. So they’re often not minded to listen to the good advice of outsiders – however generously it may be dispensed.

Just because most charities are small, does not mean that they lack complexity. They may not have specialised divisions of labour, hierarchical command chains or bureaucratic procedures. But that does not mean that their internal dynamics are simple. In fact, small charities – especially when they are collectively governed and run – are complicated entities.

A blog for Small Charities Week.

 

Valuing small charities for what they are, not what they should be

Third Sector Trends Survey 2019 is now running across the North of England

This unique long-term study on the work of the voluntary and community sector is now running right across the North of England. Whether your organisation or group is big or small, flourishing or struggling financially – or just carrying on more or less as normal – we need to hear from you.

Using the findings, we will build a picture of how organisations and groups work, how they get their resources and how they are planning to work in future. This will help us to inform national and local government, health organisations and charitable foundations to make good decisions on how to invest in the activity of the third sector. It will also help the third sector itself show the extent and value of the work it does. The project has generously been supported by Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and Power to Change.

Please support the survey: The survey takes just 20 minutes to complete and you shouldn’t need to check up any facts and figures to fill it in. You can complete the survey online by clicking this link:

https://durham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/third-sector-trends-in-the-north-of-england-2019-live-s-2

And tell your friends and colleagues to do the same: by sending them an email with the link to the survey or by drawing attention to the study via twitter using #ThirdSectorTrends

Headline findings will be published in December 2019 and the full results will be  freely available from  spring 2020. Reports from the study so far can be found at:

https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/knowledge-and-leadership/third-sector-trends-research/

If you have any questions about the research and/or the questionnaire, please contact Professor Tony Chapman, St Chad’s College, Durham University, 18 North Bailey, DURHAM DH1 3RH, or by email: tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk.

Strengthening the wellbeing of market towns in the Rural North and Borderlands of England and Scotland

A seminar to debate new initiatives to create social and economic growth

THIS SEMINAR IS NOW FULLY BOOKED

A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance, (ILG). It will take place at the Beaumont Hotel, Hexham, Wednesday 10th July 2019, from 1.00 – 4.00 p.m.

Town centres have been under the spotlight recently as the economic viability of high streets have been put under intense pressure due to the changing patterns of consumer demand and behaviour, the consequences of online shopping for retail outlets and the pressures of business rates.

However, town centres invariably offer a wider range of opportunities in public service provision, leisure activities, events, socialising opportunities etc. But they are more than just hubs for such activity, they also represent a focal point for economic development and civic pride – they tell us something about local culture, our sense of place and about who we are. In the rural borderlands or England and Scotland, economic and social pressures may have been compounded by their relative isolation for major urban centres.

Often it is felt that market towns face a kind of double jeopardy because they are relatively small and isolated from key decision making centres. At one time many market towns were dependent for their economic wellbeing on agriculture and related rural businesses and services. But now, new sectors and enterprises are emerging, some of which can compete at a national or even international level utilising information and communications technology and able to recruit skilled workers and professionals attracted by the quality of life and local environment.

From a policy perspective, central and local government, their agencies and financial programmes are increasingly recognising the need to support rural and coastal towns and their centres. This seminar is about more than economic vibrancy, it is also about quality of life, community development, business engagement and place making.

The seminar will be chaired by Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Economy, Northumberland County Council and introduced by Professor Mark Shucksmith, Professor of Planning, Newcastle University

Speakers will include:

Simon Hanson, Federation of Small Business: on the contribution of small business to social wellbeing and civil society.

Chris Kolek, Director, Kolek Consulting: on the process of supporting business development strategies in rural areas.

Bryan McGrath, Chief Officer, Economic Development, Scottish Borders: on town centre regeneration in the Scottish Borders.

Jonathan Wallace, Senior Director, Lichfields: on the revitalisation of town centres in North East England.

Seminar presentations are available here:

Mark Shucksmith – ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

Chris Kolek ILG Market Towns Seminar 10 July 2019

Bryan McGrath – ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

Jonathan Wallace ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

Simon Hanson ILG Market Towns Seminar 10th July

 

 

 

 

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: – tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk or john.mawson@durham.ac.uk

 

 

The future of civil society in Tees Valley

A seminar to discuss the way forward for stakeholders in the voluntary sector, charitable foundations and the public sector.

Friday 5th July 2019, Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, 9.30 – 1.00

The voluntary and community sector (VCS) has maintained its role in supporting and strengthening the civil society in Tees Valley. It has done so in the context of a great deal of economic, social and political change. The aim of this event is to bring people together from the VCS, charitable foundations and the public sector to engage in a forward looking debate surrounding the changing policy and funding landscape and the positive contribution which the sector can make to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the challenges of recent years, the VCS has managed to sustain its contribution at more or less the same size and scale of activity. This has been achieved as individual organisations and groups have adapted and looked at new ways of accessing resource through trading, fundraising, public sector contracts, winning grants from regional and national foundations and from social investment banks. The mix may have changed in the sector’s basket of funding, but the overall volume of income seems to have remained much the same.

But it has not been easy and many VCS organisations say that they have had to work harder than ever to keep themselves going and supporting local causes that are important to them. With all these changes in mind, it seems like a good time to ask people to get together for an event. The event will be small but productive, with just 60 places, bringing key stakeholders from the VCS, public sector and charitable foundations together from across the five boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees.

At the start of the event, a panel presented views on the future challenges facing the sector, including policy trends, funding and investment context and potential collaborative initiatives with partners.

The event was chaired by Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council.

Nancy Doyle-Hall, Executive Director, Virgin Money Foundation: on the role of charitable grant making foundations and trusts in supporting civil society

Alison Collins, Investment Manager, Northstar Ventures: on the role of social investment in developing VCS sector strengths

Tony Chapman, Policy&Practice, St Chad’s College, Durham University: on changing funding relationships between the public sector and the third sector.

Following table discussion there was a second panel to debate with the audience the current situation across Tees Valley and its environs and the future prospects for the development of civil society.

Tracey Brittain, Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency

Karen Grundy, Community Programme Manager, Catalyst Stockton

Mike Millen, CEO, Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency

Slides from the seminar can be found here:

Alison Collins – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Tony Chapman – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Introductory Slides – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Mark Davis ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Mike Millen – ILG Seminar 5th July 2019

Homes for the future in North East England

New initiatives to deliver decent, affordable homes in appealing communities. A seminar organised by the Institute for Local Governance.

This successful seminar rook place at Teikyo University, Elvet Hill, Durham on 21st June 2019

Since the establishment of the welfare state, good quality housing has been regarded as one of the central pillars of citizenship. And yet definitions of what constitutes ‘good housing’ seem always to be changing. Change can be driven by the confluence of a number of factors including the state of the economy, supply of land and planning policy, performance of the building industry, and government policies etc.

In recent years such factors have led to corners being cut in terms of the size, style and facility of homes. There are also important social and demographic pressures and specific government policies such as welfare reform, which can result in the structure and needs of households changing and transforming patterns of demand. Demand for housing is affected by more than style, structure and facility.

Since the 1980s ‘right to buy’ schemes were introduced, and debates about the efficacy of different forms of tenure in terms of renting, mixed provision, social and private housing have dominated discussions at a policy level. The evidence suggests that demand to buy homes is still strong, but the proportion of households which are able to achieve that aim has fallen, especially amongst the young.

These factors, taken together, have led to the development of a much more complex mix of tenures available to people – but the indications are that the current range of tenures and types of housing in the North East of England is not well matched with current or future likely patterns of demand. This seminar looks at how such a challenge can be met by looking at some of the innovative ways social landlords, the private sector and local authorities are tackling these mis-matches.

The seminar was chaired by Professor John Mawson, Director, Institute for Local Governance.

Speakers will include:

Professor Janice Morphet, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, on the changing landscape in local authority provision of housing

Karen Brown, Senior Policy Advisor, Northern Housing Consortium, on the impact on national housing policy on housing in the North East England.

Richard Horniman, Director of Regeneration, Middlesbrough Council, on the ambitions of MHomes, Middlesbrough Council’s housing company.

Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Gentoo Group, on adding value to the contribution of social housing providers though new build and improvement of existing stock.

Presentations from the seminar can be downloaded here:

ILG Homes – Janice Morphet – 21st June 2019

ILG Housing – Nigel Wilson 21 June 2019

ILG Housing – Karen Brown 21 June 2019

ILG Housing – Richard Horniman 21 June 2019

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: – tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk or john.mawson@durham.ac.uk

How do charitable foundations support North East England?

Policy&Practice has been commissioned by the Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to look at the way charitable foundations support the voluntary sector in the North East of England.  The research has involved in-depth interviews with 25 regional and national charitable foundations and is concluding with seminars in Newcastle and London to test the findings from the research.

In recent years funding for the voluntary sector has remained fairly similar but its composition is changing – with a lower level of reliance on local and national government sources during a long period of austerity policy.  Charitable foundations have often stepped in where social needs have been growing in areas such as homelessness, poverty, health and personal wellbeing.  Reduction in funding for youth services by local councils has also led to higher levels of investment by charitable foundations.

The research is not just about where money from grants is flowing, Instead it is focusing on how charitable foundations determine what issues they want to support, how they know  if their grant giving is making a real difference and how they work alongside each other to have a greater overall impact.  Another key purpose of the exercise is to feed new questions in the forthcoming Third Sector Trends survey across the North beginning in June 2019.

Charitable foundations involved in the study include all Community Foundations serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, County Durham Community Foundation, Tees Valley Community Foundation, The Ballinger Family Trust, The Barbour Foundation, Big Lottery Fund, Children in Need, Comic Relief, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Greggs Foundation, The Henry Smith Charity, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, Millfield House Foundation, Northstar Ventures, The Pilgrim Trust, Power to Change, Sage Foundation, The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, Sir James Knott Trust, The Tudor Trust, Virgin Money Foundation and Wolfson Foundation.

A report will be published in the late summer of 2019 on the research findings and further reports will emerge in 2020 using quantitative data from the Third Sector Trends surveys.  For more information on the project, contact tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk.

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: https://www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk/GROW_pilot_executive%20summary%20report_final.pdf

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: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/young-peoples-aspirations-and-ambitions-seminar-2019-tickets-56099466013

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:- tony.chapman@durham.ac.uk or john.mawson@durham.ac.uk.