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Third Sector Research Centre starts online debates on the future of the sector

Pete Alcock, director of the TSRC, will chair a panel to review the findings before publishing a report in April

Pete Alcock
Pete Alcock

The Third Sector Research Centre is running a series of debates on the future of the voluntary sector, starting today.

The TSRC has this morning published a discussion paper called The Worst of Times?, which argues that the sector is experiencing significant changes in its relationship with the state.

It is part of the TSRC’s Third Sector Futures Dialogues projects, which will involve the publication of five papers over the next six months to kick off a series of debates about big issues facing the voluntary sector in England.

Topics to be considered include whether the voluntary sector has special or distinctive characteristics, how it is being shaped by its changing relationships with the state and whether it should speak with a consistent voice in order to negotiate its future.

Each subject, or dialogue, will be considered over the course of about a month through online debates and seminars in London before a ‘sounding panel’ of voluntary sector experts, chaired by Pete Alcock, director of the TSRC, meet to discuss the findings.

The sounding board will meet four times over the course of the project and will produce a final report in April.

Members of the sounding board include Cathy Pharoah, professor of charity funding at Cass Business School, Nicholas Deakin, who chaired the Commission on the Future of the Voluntary Sector, which reported in 1996, Neil Cleeveley, director of policy and communications at the local infrastructure body Navca, and Ralph Michell, director of policy at the chief executives body Acevo.

"The changing economic and political circumstances in the country pose some major challenges for the sector as a whole and for different organisations within it," said Pete Alcock, director of the TSRC. "We need to review how to respond to these challenges and plan for organisations and their beneficiaries. TSRC research can inform this review and encourage sector-wide debate."

See thirdsectorfutures.org.uk for details of the discussions that will be taking place as part of the project.

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