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Model abstracts

Single paper 1

Title of Proposal

Title of proposal

Name

Name

Organisation

Organisation

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Additional authors – please provide name and organisation

Name, Organisation

Theme

  • Civil society, democracy and grassroots voluntary action
  • Volunteering, participation and social action
  • Sectoral boundaries: private-voluntary-public sector relations
  • Funding, fundraising and philanthropy
  • Organisational management and governance, including regulation and charity law
  • Historical perspectives on the voluntary sector and voluntary action
  • Advances in theory and methods

(delete as appropriate)

Proposal (400 to 600 words)

Volunteering during unemployment is a stepping stone to paid work - that is the assumption behind UK government policy initiatives such as Work Together, a pilot voluntary work scheme for unemployed youth in London, and the Olympics Employment and Skills strategy.

This paper questions the extent to which empirical evidence supports this assumption using a theoretical model that relates volunteering, employability and re-employment. Firstly, drawing on the employability literature, I argue that enhanced employability (i.e. skills and attitudes) does not automatically translate into (re-) employment, as it represents only the supply side of the labour market. Therefore a clear distinction should be made between the effects of volunteering on employability and securing paid work as a result.

Secondly, this paper systematises and evaluates the empirical evidence currently scattered through the literature on volunteering and employability. This paper is based on an extensive literature search using several criteria through six types of sources, which yielded a final set of 15 publications. Only studies published since 1998, the year of the previous literature review, were included in the review.

It concludes that, according to a relatively small number of studies, volunteering during unemployment can indeed enhance employability but it has a limited, negative or negligible effect on the prospects of the majority of unemployed people finding a new job. Moreover, some studies indicate that the effects of volunteering might vary by frequency of volunteering, age and reasons for unemployment. Other studies suggest that volunteering can be a productive alternative for individuals who cannot secure employment because of various barriers in labour market, for example, people with mental health problems or disability.

The policy implications of these findings are that including volunteering in policy initiatives is not an effective immediate one-size-fits-all solution for high levels of joblessness. Nevertheless, volunteering can be used to enhance the national skill base or provide meaningful productive alternative activity for people who find it hard to secure paid work.

Finally, this paper concludes with suggestions for future research directions for volunteering and employability studies. It proposes to focus on the effects of volunteering on re-employment for clearly defined and specific groups of the unemployed (e.g. young people with no job experience); the value that the employers attach to volunteering, and on how volunteering could help to reduce the negative wellbeing, mental and physical health, and social exclusion effects of unemployment.

Number of words

403

Single paper 2

Title of proposal

Title of proposal

Name

Name

Organisation

Organisation

Email

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional authors – please provide name and organisation

Name, Organisation

Theme

  • Civil society, democracy and grassroots voluntary action
  • Volunteering, participation and social action
  • Sectoral boundaries: private-voluntary-public sector relations
  • Funding, fundraising and philanthropy
  • Organisational management and governance, including regulation and charity law
  • Historical perspectives on the voluntary sector and voluntary action
  • Advances in theory and methods

(delete as appropriate)

Proposal (400 to 600 words)

Significant flood events in 2007, 2010 and flooding in the winter of 2013/14 have had a widespread impact on communities particularly in parts of the country such as Cornwall, the Somerset Levels, parts of Wales and of the east coast of England. Due to this, the role of Flood Warden Volunteers and the activities they undertake has become an issue of increasing interest to the Environment Agency (EA). There has been a clear policy shift within the EA away from engagement with the public around awareness raising activities (that target the individual) towards community engagement and the facilitation of community resilience initiatives and partnerships. This shift aims to develop networks of actively engaged local residents, civil society organisations and government agencies to plan activities that mitigate and respond to flood risk.

Research, undertaken by Forest Research for the EA, on flood volunteering in 2013 shows that volunteers gain a range of social and human capital benefits and improve individual well-being from their voluntary activities as well as mitigate their risk of flooding. Data were collected via an online survey (n=63), volunteer diaries and interviews (n=61) in four case studies in England. Interviews and workshops were also undertaken with EA staff and partner organisation staff that the EA works with (n=20). Flood volunteers were taking part in a range of activities including physical action, knowledge and campaign activities. The key determinants for getting involved in volunteering were identified as: a person’s values and attitudes; the degree of flooding risk in their community; their household or friend being at risk; the route to involvement being clearly explained to them; and an interest in technical issues associated with flood risk.

The four case studies we researched represent four governance models identified by the EA as important, these include:

  • Direct management by the EA i.e. outcomes are delivered directly by the EA – example Lincolnshire Flood Warden Scheme.
  • Working in partnership i.e. the EA works with a range of volunteers to support volunteering activity – example Cornwall Community Flood Forum.
  • Working through others i.e. the EA provides resources such as funding for another organisation such as a social enterprise to work directly with volunteers – example River Stewardship Company.
  • Communities and volunteers working for themselves i.e. individuals and groups decide to take actions for themselves – example Bodenham Flood Protection Group.

Our research revealed that it is difficult to describe any given example by one of these four models of governance. There is evolution and adaptation of governance. In recent years areas of high flood risk appear to have seen a change from traditional direct management of volunteers by the EA towards more complex arrangements that aim to increase resilience. In areas of high flood risk the evolution towards more complex approaches seems to be accompanied by a shift in:

  • Partnership working – move towards multi-agency partnerships.
  • Scope of engagement – from a narrow focus on flooding to wider community resilience.
  • Motivations and benefits – from individual to community focus.
  • Range of activities – from asset and habitat management to education, campaigning, planning and web based activities.
  • Level of engagement – from reactive recruitment towards to proactive recruitment of volunteers.

It could be argued that there has never been a better time to focus on the role of flood and coastal risk management volunteering and its importance as part of the mixed and integrated response needed to deal with severe weather events that are likely to occur with climate change. Communities will need to become better prepared and more resilient to flood events and flood volunteers already play a critical role in this endeavour.

Number of words

591


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