Key research areas
Health and social care
We have a particular expertise in undertaking research, evaluation and impact assessment work in all parts of the health and social care field, including completing research with people with multiple and entrenched health conditions. Recent research has examined volunteering and volunteer management in palliative care (Marie Curie Dimbleby Cancer Research Fund, and the Cabinet Office), the contribution of volunteering to care homes (Department of Health), the impact of befriending on people with psychosis (NIHR), the role of peer support volunteering for people with diabetes (University of Cambridge), and evaluations of volunteer programmes within organisations such as the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Carer’s Resource.
We’ve undertaken multiple pieces of research and evaluations of initiatives promoting young people’s volunteering, participation and social action. This has included evaluations of programmes and organisations including the youth charity v, City Year UK, vInspired’s vCashpoint programme, National Citizen Service, and International Citizen Service . We’ve also worked with the Cabinet Office and Generation Change to support the development of a series of metrics to measure outcomes of youth social action, and currently advise Step Up to Serve on their data collection.
Sport and recreation
We have undertaken research into multiple different aspects of sport activity. We have been working with the Join In Trust over several years to improve their understanding of the impact of their work on sports clubs and participants, are evaluating a major youth leadership programme on behalf of Sports Leaders UK , recently completed a review of volunteering trends for StreetGames, and worked with Play England to evaluate their Free Time Consortium programme.
Environment, conservation and heritage
Our work in this field has included high profile evaluations, audits and surveys for organisations including the National Trust, English Heritage, and the Wildlife Trusts. We have also undertaken research on behalf of Natural England and the Countryside Recreation Network to better understand opportunities and challenges facing the field. We recently worked with The Conservation Volunteers to help them understand and develop their volunteer offer, and also undertook research for the Heritage Lottery Fund to examine asset transfer of historic buildings and parks.
We are experts in understanding the evolving nature of volunteering infrastructure in England. For the past decade we have run the Annual Return of Volunteer Centres providing the best data on the state of the network and the challenges and opportunities it face, and have recently worked with Nesta to research innovative practices within eight volunteer centres .
Trends and new developments
Our publications such as The Road Ahead and the UK Civil Society Almanac help the sector understand what is happening to volunteering and participation. We also undertake projects examining how people’s engagement is changing in response to external pressures, including our Pathways through Participation research and research examining the concept of micro-volunteering .
We are committed to supporting, enabling and celebrating volunteering in all its diversity. We do this through: