Why the Research Conference isn’t just for researchers

Bookings are open for the 20th annual Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference. You can find out more about the event, including how to book, online.

As the only time in the year when the whole of the voluntary sector research community gets together, the conference is an invaluable opportunity for researchers to network and get a flavour of what everybody else has been working on for the last twelve months. It’s a chance to compare notes with people whose areas of interest are similar to your own, and to be wowed by innovative and exciting new methods.

But it’s also more than that. If a research paper is only interesting because of its use of multi-modal methods or its exploration of interrater reliability (and I’m assured these things are interesting!), then is it really worth shouting about? What really makes the Research Conference exciting is that our programme is packed with papers that examine the most pertinent issues for the sector and that have findings with implications for voluntary organisations. At a time when the salaries of charity chief executives are under heightened scrutiny, we have a session looking not only at pay for the highest earners in the sector, but also at those with the lowest incomes. At a time when the sector has experienced a disproportionate fall in income from government, we have a session on the relationship between government and the voluntary sector both in the UK and further afield, as well as a session delving into examples of projects where government funding has been withdrawn entirely, to be replaced by voluntary action.

We also have a number of papers on the role of volunteers. One panel session asks what place volunteers can have in care homes, a sector currently beset by scandal, and where providers are facing increasing demands. Another paper ponders the implications for organisations of engaging ex-offenders as volunteers. The conference’s range is vast; one paper explores volunteering at music festivals, while another looks at volunteering’s contribution to encouraging pro-environmental behavioural change.

The conference isn’t just run for the benefit of the research community; it gives policy makers a chance to take a step back from their organisations’ policy priorities and get inspired by people whose research is related to their area of work. It isn’t about academics getting together to talk about methodologies in some indecipherable tongue; it’s about researchers, policy makers and practitioners exploring what the research findings mean for them and discussing how to translate the evidence base into action.

Find out more

You can see a draft programme here. Don’t miss out – book your place now!

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Ben Anstis was the engagement and communications assistant with Compact Voice.

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