Voluntary Action History Society Study Day
The end of the voluntary sector’s infrastructure? Are intermediary bodies doomed? Does it matter?
Call for Papers!
Date and time: Saturday, 16 June 2018, 10AM-4PM
Venue: Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E
Target audience: Researchers interested in government/voluntary sector relations in general and intermediary bodies in particular; practitioners in intermediary bodies; staff of local authorities/government departments whose remit includes intermediary bodies
Issues: We are looking for papers which will address the issues set out below.
Many organisations that promoted and supported important segments of the voluntary sector have been decimated in recent years. The London Voluntary Service Council has come to an end after more than a hundred years of service to the voluntary agencies of the capital; Volunteering England has been folded into the NCVO with the loss of its distinctive voice and dedicated research identity; and a host of local intermediary bodies like councils for voluntary service, volunteer centres, community associations and settlements have been forced to close their doors.
The intermediary bodies under threat are local, regional and national organisations which aim to represent particular communities, interests or geographic areas; co-ordinate services and other forms of action; and lobby or campaign on behalf of these communities, interests and areas.
Over the course of the last 150 years government, voluntary organisations supported by intermediary bodies and intermediary bodies themselves developed shared expectations that intermediary bodies would provide, where needed, comprehensive coverage and support; enjoy productive working relationships (partnership) with government through, for example, involvement in policy-making and -implementation; and receive adequate financial support from government for basic functions as well as specific projects. These expectations reached their greatest fulfilment under New Labour (1997-2010), which highlighted and, indeed, expanded the role of intermediary bodies as capacity-builders for the voluntary sector, gave formal recognition to partnership (local, regional and national compacts) and provided substantial funding to secure their better functioning.
However, since 2010 governments have changed their priorities: they have largely ignored intermediary bodies and cut their funding. This has had a negative impact: many intermediary bodies have reduced the scope of their activities or abandoned some activities altogether; some have merged with other bodies or organisations or redefined their missions in order to keep going; and some have closed.
This study day will explore the development of intermediary bodies and their current actual and metaphysical crisis. It will ask whether their historical role was meaningful and effective, whether they have the capacity and nerve to continue in this role or to find a new role and indeed whether they will continue to exist. It will ask whether intermediary bodies matter and, if so, what we can do to save them.
Proposing a paper: If you would like to propose a paper, please submit a short abstract (around 300 words) by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 3 April 2018.
If you have any queries or if you wish to discuss a proposed paper’s suitability, please e-mail Meta Zimmeck.
Booking: Booking will open once the programme is finalised.
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