Voluntary sector organisations working at the neighbourhood level in England: patterns by local area deprivation

Working paper 65

Geographical variations in voluntary sector activity are important where they lead to inequity in service provision and differences in the opportunity to participate in voluntary group activities. However, despite important theoretical work, very little work has demonstrated variation empirically, particularly variation at the local (neighbourhood) level. This paper, for the first time, examines nationally representative data to illustrate the very real geographical differences across England in the prevalence of voluntary organisations working at a neighbourhood scale.

Overall, less deprived local areas have a much higher prevalence than more deprived local areas. While certain kinds of organisations are more prevalent in more deprived areas, including those working in the field of economic well-being, this reflects the presence of organisations which receive public funds. These patterns are consistent with a key element of ‘voluntary sector failure’ and resource insufficiency, and highlight the important role of government in ensuring resources are available in areas of particular need.

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Dr David Clifford