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Northern Ireland Voluntary Action Futures: Research Agendas

Voluntary action in Northern Ireland has a proud heritage, but faces troubled times. Its future is currently uncertain as a result of economic and political change. This conference explores alternative futures.

Northern Ireland Voluntary Action Futures: Research Agendas

61 Duncairn Gardens,
BT15 2GB

NICVA logo
8 March 2013 - 9:00am
8 March 2013 - 4:00pm
Free (sponsored by the Big Lottery Fund)

This conference explores alternative futures based on competing visions of independence and grassroots voluntary action informed by rediscovering the political in organising around interests and identities on the one hand and a marketised social economy driven by commissioning, service delivery partnerships and social value on the other. What are the underpinnings and implications of these visions and can they co-exist? Research-based presentations from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and England will provide some interpretations.

The conference also provides an opportunity to take stock of the resources available for research on voluntary action in Northern Ireland including universities, the Big Lottery funded Third Sector Knowledge Portal and charitable trusts.

Come and take part in the debate about Voluntary Action Futures and learn more about where the research evidence can be found and consider what the research agenda should be.

Showcasing research by the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at the University of Ulster, Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham, Trinity College Dublin and University College Galway, the event will also launch a unique resource for strategic thinking, the Third Sector Knowledge Portal, a searchable database of third sector research funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Draft Programme:

9.00am Coffee / networking
9.30am Welcome and introduction - NICVA and University of Ulster - Cathy Gormley Heenan, Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, UU)
10.00am Voluntary Action Research: setting the scene (TBC)

Third sector or civil society? Challenges in preserving an independent sector in Northern Ireland: reporting work for the Building Change Trust - Nick Acheson, Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, University of Ulster.

Rediscovering the political in associational life: the Irish experience. Or, what happened to the community and voluntary pillar? - Gemma Carney, University College Galway.

11.00am Q & A
11.15am Coffee / tea

Changing Landscapes in Voluntary Action

Navigating the Boundaries of the Social Economy: What's in and what's out and what's both? - Denise Crossan, Assistant Professor in Social Entrepreneurship, School of Business, Trinity College Dublin

The changing world of voluntary action in Northern Ireland: what can housing partnerships tell us? - Professor David Mullins, University of Birmingham and Nick Acheson, University of Ulster.

 12.45pm  Launch of the Third Sector Portal in NI - Peter Lambert, TSRC
 1.00pm  Lunch / networking

 Measuring Social Value: a new approach?

Measuring social value: are we looking for concepts in the wrong place? - Mary-Lee Rhodes, Trinity College Dublin


 Is grassroots voluntary action a source of renewal? 'Below the Radar' in Belfast and Birmingham.

Below the Radar in the Falls and the Shankill: grassroots voluntary action in inner city Belfast - Lisa Faulkner, University of Ulster

Local Voluntary Action in Birmingham - Andri Soteri Proctor, Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham

The dark side of social capital: community life in a loyalist housing estate - Erik Cownie, University of Ulster

 3.15pm  Discussion

 Panel and Closing Plenary

Facilitator Ricky Rowledge, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Council for Homeless People

Navigating a turbulent sea: what use is research




Conference logos

Further information

For more information about this event please contact at stephen [dot] bloomer [at] nicva [dot] org or call 028 9087 7777.

Getting here and Parking

NICVA has a number of free parking spaces available for those attending events. Unfortunately these can't be reserved and are available on a first come basis. NICVA's spaces are clearly marked and we would ask that visitors only use spaces allocated to NICVA when attending an event.

Parking is also available on Duncairn Gardens and surrounding areas within close walking distance. NICVA is also a short walk from Yorkgate Train Station and you can easily catch a bus from the city centre (no 1D) direct to Duncairn Gardens, or (no 61 and 64) to Cityside Centre (a few minutes walk).