2016 Conference

Voluntary Action History Society 25th Anniversary Conference: Thinking about the Past, Thinking about the Future
13–15 July 2016
University of Liverpool

Registration now open

VAHS is pleased to announce that the registration for our 25th Anniversary Conference is now open. To register, please click here.

Overview of the conference

We are delighted to welcome Frank Prochaska as our keynote speaker. Based at Oxford University, Frank has written a number of ground-breaking studies on women and philanthropy, Christianity and social service, charity and citizenship and the charitable activities of the monarchy and is an independent and acerbic commentator on contemporary social policy. He is a long-time friend and supporter of VAHS and presented a paper at our first seminar in 1991.

Over three days there will be a series of papers, specialist panels and an innovative workshop on archives and archival research. There will also be an evening walkabout led by John Lansley, long-time commentator on the voluntary sector in Liverpool; a fiendishly difficult voluntary action quiz; an excursion to Port Sunlight, the model village, established in 1888 by Lever Brothers (now part of Unilever) to house workers in its soap factory; and a conference dinner with jazz band held in the University’s iconic Victoria Gallery and Museum. The conference will close with a plenary session which will review the current state of our field and challenges to its future.

The conference will provide an opportunity for researchers from different backgrounds, different disciplines and different countries to share knowledge of sources, methodologies and findings of research on voluntary action. It will also provide an opportunity for socialising with other delegates in an open and friendly environment.

The programme

The programme will cover diverse aspects of voluntary action including:

  • Local voluntary action and campaigning
  • Voluntary action in an international setting
  • The use of archives in the history of voluntary action
  • Scope, methods and motivations for individual philanthropy
  • Methods of fundraising in different contexts
  • Idealism and professionalism in voluntary action
  • Tensions within voluntary action (local v national organisations, centralised v branch organisations, voluntary organisations v government bodies).

The conference venue

VAHS has a long and happy association with Liverpool, the venue for its international conferences in 2001 and 2008, when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. This city, once a great port for global trade, was one of the drivers of the Industrial Revolution and is now a leader in urban regeneration. It also made a substantial contribution to the development of voluntary social service – for example, the Victoria Women’s Settlement, opened in 1898; Liverpool University’s School of Social Science, which worked with the Settlement to test theories of voluntary action practice; and Liverpool Council of Voluntary Aid, founded in 1909. The city is home to magnificent civic architecture, fine art galleries and the Mersey Beat. There will be a number of papers at the conference which feature voluntary action in Liverpool.


Accommodation for the conference will be in Vine Court, a recently-built hall of residence in the main campus. All rooms are en-suite and have small double beds. Conference activities will take place in the nearby Rendall Building. See map of the campus:


For members of VAHS

Full residential package includes attendance at the conference on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (13-15 July); accommodation on Wednesday and Thursday nights; breakfast on Thursday and Friday; lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; dinner on Wednesday and Thursday (the drinks reception and conference dinner); daytime refreshments; and excursions £310
Non-residential package includes attendance at the conference on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (13-15 July); lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; daytime refreshments; and excursions. £170

For non-members of VAHS

Full residential package (as above) £340
Non-residential package (as above) £200
Drinks party and conference dinner (Thursday) supplement for non-residential delegates £50

Non-members may wish to join VAHS before booking in order to be eligible for reduced members’ rates; if so, go to http://www.vahs.org.uk/membership/

Fully waged £25
Unwaged (including students/retired/unemployed £20

For both members and non-members of VAHS

Late booking fee after 1 June 2016 £30
Extra night B & B before conference, 12 July 2016 £42
Extra night B & B after conference, 15 July 2016 £42
Supplement B & B for guest (double occupancy), 12-15 July 2016 (per night) £10

Booking form

To book go to:


Contact us

For information about the conference programme, e-mail meta@practicalwisdomr2z.co.uk.

For information about booking and other administrative issues, e-mail n.gilmore@liverpool.ac.uk.

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