Alison Penn is the Chair. She is a Lecturer and Open Media Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at The Open University.  She teaches Social Sciences, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology.  Between 1996 and 2006 she was a Research Fellow at the Health and Social Policy Research Centre, The University of Brighton.   Alison has a DPhil in Social History, specialising in exploring local-national relationships in the post-World War II voluntary sector. She has twenty-five years’ experience of working in the voluntary and community sector. She is a founder member and former Membership Secretary and Honorary Secretary of the Voluntary Action History Society. Her publications include From the Rescue of Fallen Women to the Support of Vulnerable Families (2005) and, co-editorship and contributor to The Roots of Voluntary Action (2011).  She is currently researching the role of women social investigators in the field of public health in the early 20th century.

Meta Zimmeck is Treasurer and Membership Secretary of VAHS. Originally trained as an administrative historian, Meta has twenty-five years’ experience as a social policy researcher working on projects for government bodies and voluntary organisations. She has published studies of the history of government policy on volunteering and partnership initiatives such as the Compact. She is currently writing a history of the unfortunate but fascinating Association of Ex-Military and Naval Civil Servants. She is treasurer of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network and partner in the specialist research consultancy Practical Wisdom R2Z.

Colin Rochester is Seminar Convenor of VAHS. He has been involved in voluntary action for more than forty years, first as a practitioner and more recently as an academic at the LSE and the University of Roehampton. He is one of the founders of the Voluntary Action History Society and served as its chair for the first ten years of its existence. He is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the LSE and a partner in Practical Wisdom R2Z. His most recent book – Rediscovering Voluntary Action: The beat of a different drum – was published by Palgrave in December 2013.

Bill Rushbrooke is Secretary and Sociability Officer of VAHS. He is a retired principal lecturer in the School of Business at Roehampton University, where he specialised in organisational theory with particular relevance to the not-for-profit sector. He is a partner in Practical Wisdom R2Z, a volunteer in Merton and a stained glass artist.

Louis Carserides is Website Developer and Member Engagement Officer. He completed his MSc in Social Policy (Research) at the London School of Economics and now serves as a Public Affairs Adviser at the ABI. If you would like any information on upcoming events, would like to submit a blog post, or have any other queries you can contact Louis on

Dr. Ruth Davidson is a Visiting Fellow at King’s College, London. Her work focuses on voluntary action and gender in twentieth century Britain. Her PhD explored networks of women’s local voluntary work and political activism between 1869 and 1939. She was Research Associate on the Child Poverty Action Group project led by Professor Pat Thane at King’s College London, an AHRC-funded project to mark the 50th anniversary of the Group. She is the author of ‘“Dreams of Utopia”: the infant welfare movement in interwar Croydon’, Women’s History Review 23 2 2014 and ‘Working-Class Women Activists: Citizenship at the Local Level’ in Peter Ackers and Alastair J. Reid (eds) Alternatives to State-Socialism in Britain: Other Worlds of Labour in the Twentieth Century (Palgrave, 2016).

Kerrie Holloway is a Research Officer with the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute. Her research interests include the interaction between humanitarian organisations and politics, the historical and contemporary development of humanitarian organisations and foreign and domestic policy decisions in relation to refugee policy. Kerrie completed her PhD in history in 2017 at Queen Mary University of London, focusing on a British humanitarian organisation that worked with Spanish refugees in France after the Spanish Civil War.

Andrew Jones is Assistant Professor in Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick. He is a contemporary interest with specific interests in humanitarianism, aid, sustainable development, NGOs and global governance. He is currently writing a monograph which will investigate how the contemporary humanitarian sector developed in post-war Britain.

Caitriona Beaumont is Associate Professor in Social History and Director of Research for the School of Law and Social Sciences at London South Bank University. Her research focuses on voluntary women’s organisations and the women’s movement in Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth  centuries. Her monograph, Housewives and Citizens: Voluntary Women’s Organisations and the Women’s Movement in England and Wales, 1928-1964, is due for publication by Manchester University Press in 2013.

Lester Hillman is a lecturer, writer, accredited guide, conference and event organiser, with experience in examining, broadcasting and award judging. He has a degree from Cambridge University and post-graduate studies London. Throughout his career, he has worked as a chartered town planner in urban planning and regulatory frameworks for  international railways, both in Britain and abroad. He is an Associate of the Royal Historical Society for the past four decades and has a Conferred Visiting Professorship from the London Metropolitan Business School in 2008 (Business Analysis, Information Systems , Transport and Logistics Sector Group). He is also involved in heritage initiatives with a number of professional institutes, is the recipient of a number of international, professional and community awards, an academic adviser to Islington Archaeology & History Society and Camden Tour Guides Association and offers support to a number of museums and heritage groups.

Bob Snape is a Reader in Leisure and Sport and also Head of the Centre for Worktown Studies at the University of Bolton. His research centres on the history of leisure 1850–1939. He has published on a number of voluntary organisations, notably the National Home Reading Union and the Co-operative Holidays Association. His current research is focused on leisure and voluntary social service in post-World War One social reconstruction.

Emily Barker is a postgraduate student in the Faculty of Education & Health at the University of Greenwich. With a postgraduate background in the history of childhood, she is currently researching the impact of migration on children’s play during the late twentieth century. She has volunteered at various organizations related to children’s education and play and is especially interested in the intersection between community advocacy/volunteerism and children’s social inclusion.

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