Connected Communities Research

December 2011

Connected Communities is a cross-Council Programme being led by the AHRC in partnership with a range of research councils and external partners. The Programme aims to mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected communities by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities. Two research projects have been carried out for Connected Communities by TSRC researcher James Rees in partnership with researchers from De Montford University and University of Manchester.

Research contact: James Rees

Evaluation of School for Social Entrepreneurs Right to Request Programme

October 2011

The Social for Social Entrepreneurs’ Right to Request Programme aimed to support leaders of spin outs from the National Health Service, part of the Department of Health’s Right to Request policy. The support was provided to 17 leaders of spin outs who attended 6 two day residential sessions, hearing from expert witnesses drawn from those with experience of the area, and through group discussions in action learning sets. An evaluation was carried out by RTSRC researchers at Middlesex University.

Report (pdf, 209KB)

Research contact: Fergus Lyon

Making Local Food Work

September 2011

TSRC undertook a project with the Guild, which resulted in an online tool to help social enterprises measure their impact. The research was funded by the Plunkett Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund.

The tool can be found here

Research contact: Fergus Lyon

Measuring Social Value for Citizens Advice

August 2011

TSRC is working with the Guild to conduct a review of measuring social value for Citizens Advice Bureau. As part of this project, a review of recent literature identifies key developments in this area, and identifies challenges that may be faced by Citizen Advice in developing their own measurements of social value. These findings will be fed into recommendations for how Citizens Advice can engage with other research bodies to develop the measurement of social value.

Report (pdf, 102KB)

Research contact: Fergus Lyon

Formative Evaluation of V, the National Young Volunteers’ Service

August 2011

TSRC researchers at the University of Birmingham and Southampton conducted an evaluation of V, as part of a consortium of independent organisations including the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR), and Public Zone.

The report and more information are on the Vinspired website

Research contact: Steve McKay

Housing and community empowerment

June 2011

TSRC worked with HACT to explore the role of social housing providers in the community. A joint conference brought together people from across the housing and community sector and government to consider how housing providers can help achieve community empowerment. A research report by David Mullins looked at different approaches taken by housing associations and includes a toolkit to help organisations consider their own position. 

More details and report

Research contact: David Mullins

Self-help housing: supporting locally driven solutions

April 2011

TSRC worked with the Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) to hold a Consultation on self-help housing at Windsor Castle. Building on new research from TSRC, it sought to explore how self-help housing could be supported more effectively, to maximise the contributions it can bring to tackling empty properties. The event was held in December 2010. A report, resulting from the consultation and research, was published in April 2011


Research contact: David Mullins

Single point of access to third sector services: the Conwy Collaborative approach

April 2011

TSRC has recently been involved in researching a collaborative arrangement designed to help improve and strengthen the planning and commissioning of services from the third sector to support health and social care needs. 

Read more

Research contact: Helen Dickinson

Evaluation of the Compact - 'use it or lose it'

April 2011

A summative evaluation of the Compact, the framework for partnership working for government and the voluntary and community sector in England, has recently been published by the Commission for the Compact. The Commission has now closed down, and as a result the report is no longer available from them. We have therefore agreed to make the pdf accessible through our website.

Connecting the dots: the potential for self-help housing to address homelessness

February 2011

Self-help housing may offer the potential to provide joined-up solutions to the problems of homelessness, empty properties and long term unemployment. It involves groups of local people bringing empty properties back into use. Crisis commissioned this report from TSRC to explore how self-help housing approaches might be adapted to help tackle homelessness and associated training and employment needs, and to understand the barriers preventing its wider take-up.

More information and report

Research contact: Simon Teasdale


BIG and small: Capacity building, small organisations and the Big Lottery Fund

July 2010

This study aimed to provide evidence to the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) on how best to target its efforts to support or build capacity in the small groups that apply to it for funding. The research took place between March 2009 and March 2010 and was carried out by a team led by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR), in collaboration with the Third Sector Research Centre, the University of the West of England and Cordis Bright.

The report brings together the findings of a review of relevant literature, an analysis of information from Merlin (BIG’s grant-making database), interviews with 13 BIG staff and 24 applicant organisations, and an online survey completed by 122 applicants

Executive Summary |  Full Report

Research contact: Rob Macmillan

Migrant and minority community organisations: funding, sustainability and ways forward

June 2010

TSRC and Middlesex University have been working with MODA (Migrant Organisations’ Development Agency) on a research project about funding and resources available to migrant and minority organisations in London.

The project has gathered information about the role of minority and migrant organisations, including details about the services they provide, the community needs they address, the financial and organisational challenges they face and the creative ways they are finding to cope. Read report

Research contact: Fergus Lyon

Joining the Dots: Social impact measurement, commissioning from the third sector and supporting social enterprise development

May 2010

Professor Fergus Lyon and Dr Malin Arvidson contributed to this research on measuring social impact. The project was led by consultancy, The Guild and funded by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA)

Read research report

Research contact: Fergus Lyon

Close neighbourhoods not distant friends

March 2010

How can larger housing associations become more dependable, accountable and engaged with neighbourhoods? The Close Neighbours project worked with eight housing associations, four of them based in England, who agreed to implement two-year programmes of organisational change with tangible outcomes for the neighbourhoods in which they worked. Following an agenda set by Dutch and English academics, they developed their own projects to become ‘close neighbours’ - i.e. more dependable, accountable and aware of what is going on. The research report highlights some key actions taken by the four English ‘close neighbour associations’

More information and report 

Research contact: David Mullins

Social investment performance management toolkit for housing associations

March 2010

Innovation and good practice project 2008-2010 with Affinity Sutton Group for Tenant Services Authority

The role played by social investment activities in building sustainable communities is increasingly recognised by housing organisations. This project scopes the tools available to assess the performance of these activities. Drawing on current practice among Dutch housing associations and English Third Sector bodies, it assembles checklists of tools useful in appraising and prioritising projects, measuring outputs and outcomes and linking social performance to wider corporate goals.

More information and report

Research contact: David Mullins

The effect of twins and multiple birth on families and their living standards

March 2010

Professor Steve McKay, of the Third Sector Research Centre, worked with the Twin and Multiple Birth Association (TAMBA) on research into the costs and implications of multiple births. This report, compiled for TAMBA, shows that parents of multiple birth children are more likely than other parents to experience both material deprivation and family breakdown.

See report for more details

Evaluation of ChangeUp

December 2009

The Third Sector Research Centre, in collaboration with BMG Research, Guidestar and Sustain Consultancy, was commissioned to provide independent evaluation of the ChangeUp programme. The report notes that there has been 'significant distance travelled at both national and local levels', especially in terms collaboration, efficiency and focus within local infrastructure organisations. However, the report leaves question marks over the extent of ChangeUp's impact on front line organisations.

Research contact: Tony Bovaird

Alternative approaches to capacity building – practices in the public and private sectors

August 2009

TSRC researchers at the University of Birmingham and Middlesex University produced research for Capacity Builders to examine alternative practices in capacity building  found in the public and private sectors and how these can be used to benefit third sector organisations (TSOs).

Research contact: Fergus Lyon

The rural social economy: surviving the credit crunch

January 2009

This report by Angus McCabe examines the effect of the recession on social enterprise in a rural economy, through a case study of a community owned village shop.

Read case study