TSRC Events

Forthcoming Events


Previous events:


Crisis, what crisis? Meanings of a mental health crisis

Wednesday 7th November 2018 (from 16:00-18:00) in the Alan Walters Building at the University of Birmingham

An interactive event with a panel discussion which explored:

  • What do we mean when we talk about a mental health crisis? Are we viewing crisis as an emotional experience, a situation of risk and danger, or as a set of psychological symptoms?
  • To what extent should we try to ‘define’ crisis, both in research and in services. On the one hand, services must have ways of assessing who is in need of their support, and research must set parameters. Conversely, does attempting to define a crisis flatten a painful personal experience into a set of measurable criteria?

Our panel which was chaired by Dr Rebecca Ince drew together a range of stakeholders with different perspectives on crisis. Each speaker spent 5-8 minutes outlining their understanding of what a mental health crisis means, and their position on whether defining crisis in research or service provision, is helpful.

There was a question and answer session and we circulated cards with findings from our research to stimulate the discussion. 


Cliff edge? Unsettlement? Plus ca change?

Exploring change in the third sector

A dominant story of change within the voluntary sector is one of decline, where voluntary organisations and community groups face significant pressures in supporting their work and meeting their objectives. The story is often one of organisations categorised into groups that are at risk, under threat, or just about surviving. Yet this may be too simple a picture, and may not be able to capture the diverse experiences and perspectives of different kinds of organisations in different places, nor of different people within individual organisations. Change is arguably much more complex than a single story of decline.

Towards the end of 2017, the Third Sector Research Centre's 'Change in the Making' research study team, worked in partnership with NAVCA (National Association for Voluntary and Community Action), Voluntary Action Rotherham and Voluntary Action Sheffield to organise an interactive workshop exploring different sources of evidence on change in the voluntary sector. The workshop was aimed at practitioners within the voluntary and community sector. We have produced a short report summarising the day. Embedded within it are the presentations. 

View the full report


Our Bigger Story Film Festival

Saturday 1 July 2017, 10.30am - 4pm, Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham 

TSRC hosted the Big Local/Our Bigger Story Film Festival. This was an opportunity to view the films made about the past 2 years of the evaluation of Big Local as well as a selection of films made by Big Local areas themselves. 


Community Action and Social Media Seminar

Wednesday 29 March 2017, 1-4pm, Barrow Cadbury Trust, London

The Third Sector Research centre held a seminar hosted by Barrow Cadbury Trust in London. The event launched two recent working papers on community action and social media and be an opportunity to discuss the future of community groups use of social media as a means of organising. 


Community Action and Social Media Seminar

Monday 24 April 2017, 3.45 - 5.30pm, Room 415 Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham

The Third Sector Research centre held a seminar at the Birmingham University to launch two recent working papers on community action and social media. This was also an opportunity to discuss the future of community groups use of social media as a means of organising. 


The Impact of Giving Circles in the UK and Ireland, Dr Angela Eikenberry

Wednesday 18 March 2015, 3.30 - 5.00 pm, Room 710, Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham

Collaborative philanthropy through giving groups or circles is a trend emerging across the US, UK and around the world in which groups of individuals pool funds, knowledge, and/or time to support individuals, charities, or projects of mutual interest. Over 80 giving groups have been identified in the UK and Ireland and more continue to emerge. This presentation reported on research to understand the impact of giving circles in the UK and Ireland on members/participants' behaviour, knowledge and perceptions related to giving, volunteering, civic engagement and wellbeing, as well as on funding recipients. A survey was adminstered to giving circles of varying types as well as a control group to gauge impact across giving groups and giving group members and non-members. Interviews were conducted with funding recipients to understand their experiences and the impact of working with giving circles.

Angela M Eikenberry is a 2014-2015 US-UK Fulbright Scholar affiliated with University of Birmingham Third Sector Research Centre, associate professor in the School of Public Administration, and the Diamond Alumni Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her research focuses on non-profit and voluntary organisations and philanthropy and their role in democratic governance. Her book, Giving Circles: Philanthropy, Voluntary Association, and Democracy (Indiana University Press), won the 2010 CASE John Grenzebach Award for Outstanding Research in Philanthropy.


Employment and wellbeing: How much work should we do in the 'good life'? Dr Brendan Burchell

Thursday 5 February 2015, 12.30 - 14.00, Room 710, Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham

This presentation reviewed research concerning the effects of employment on wellbeing, and the reasons given as to why employment has this positive effect. The beneficial effects of employment on wellbeing, when compared to unemployed individuals, has been well researched and the effects are robust and strong. Full-time home-makers also have lower levels of wellbeing than employees, even though they 'choose' that status. There is also a large body of literature giving a variety of explanations as to what it is about employment that is so good, or unemployment that is so bad. Some researchers attempt an explanation with single constructs (e.g. self-esteem) others have developed more specific theories of unemployment (e.g. Jahoda, Warr).

There is also a body of research that finds the negative effects of too much work, which led to the European Working Time Directive to limit working time to 48 hours per week. Yet, surprisingly, there is no research known to us as to what is the best 'dose' of employment each week to maximise wellbeing, nor has there been any attempt to measure the minimum effective dose of employment. Might it be as little as one day or half a day per week? This presentation drew together theoretical models of unemployment and wellbeing, and empirical studies of the quality of part-time work, the effects of job insecurity and zero-hours contracts, to suggest answers to these questions and consider the type of research that might provide better answers to the question.

Brendan J Burchell is Reader in Social Sciences in the Department of Sociology at the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Science at the University of Cambridge. His recent research has included the effects of labour market experiences on psychological wellbeing, work intensification and job insecurity; Occupational Gender Segregation, part-time work and gender differences in working conditions in careers, restless leg syndrome and financial phobia.


Third Sector Research Centre - Seminar Series

TSRC Seminar, given by Linda Milbourne

'Another brick in the wall' or mitigating the worst of welfare re-engineering? The voluntary sector in a changing welfare landscape

Tuesday 21 October 2014, 4.00 - 6.00 pm, Room 710, Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham

With wide-scale outsourcing of public services, are large charities bolstering privatisation and poorer services, while concurrently undermining small, localised provision? Based on recent research, this seminar considered the emerging roles of English voluntary organisations amidst massive upheavals in public welfare. It analysed recent information on voluntary sector finances and drew on a series of case studies, examining different areas and services fields. While experiences vary, the size of charities is an increasing factor in differentiating outcomes in this shifting service landscape. Contrasting experiences of large and smaller organisations, the research questioned the space for more creative local approaches which could enhance welfare services.


Connected or Disconnected; rethinking the role of local councils in changing times 

On 30 September 2014, the Third Sector Research Centre, in partnership with the Nacional Association of Local Councils, the University of Gloucestershire and the Institute of Local Government Studies, hosted a conference at Hucclecote Village Hall (Gloucestershire) to explore the challenges facing town and parish councils. The event, attended by town and parish councillors, clerks, national membership bodies and Communities and Local Government, explored the impact of neighbourhood planning, localism and the changing expectations on local councils and examples of good practice in addressing these challenges.

View the full report


Keeping on below the radar: sixth reference group and mini conference

Tuesday 16 September, 10:45-15:45

Report coming soon. 


Faith in and between communities

Monday 30 June, 12:45-16:00 TSRC, Park House, University of Birmingham.

"How are faith communities responding to changing local needs"?

Third Sector Research Centre and the Faith Based Regeneration Network UK held a workshop at the University of Birmingham on 30 June 2014.

These are controversial times for faith based organisations. From foodbanks to the prevention of violent extremism they are expected to play an increasingly important role in the delivery of a wide range of Government policies – from responding to welfare reform, through to connecting diverse communities and the development of faith schools. Yet, despite this increased role, there has been little research into how faith groups are involved at the local level with communities, or effective interfaith work at a wider policy level.


Stability and variations in civic engagement:
Sweden in prosperity and recession

Tuesday 3 June, 12:00-14:00 TSRC, Park House, University of Birmingham.

Guest speaker Johan von Essen of Ersta Sköndal University College used data gathered over 17 years to explore the implications of Sweden's volunteering participation levels remaining close to 50%.

The seminar presented findings from four national representative surveys on civic participation carried out in 1992, 1998, 2005 and 2009 by the Institute for Civil Society Studies at Ersta Sköndal University College, Sweden. These surveys cover a 17-year period using cross-sectional data and allowed the team to analyse how the composition of volunteering and informal voluntary activity has developed at population level over a long-term perspective. 


Changing landscapes for the third sector
Thursday 1 May 2014

10:30–15:45, NCVO, Regents Wharf, London

Follow on Twitter with suggested hashtag:  #changingsector

This one-day conference was an opportunity to share information on:

  • the environments in which third sector organisations operate,

  • the type of challenges organisations have faced in recent years,

  • and the ways in which they have responded to current challenges.

Speakers included Karl Wilding and TSRC's Rob Macmillan.


Building from the bottom: how is social innovation transforming social policy?

Wednesday 9 April 2014

16:00-17:00, Barber Institute Lecture Theatre, University of Birmingham.
Followed by a drinks reception.

Visiting Professor Adalbert Evers reflected on the recent research looking at innovations and policy developments in 20 cities in Europe.



A magnificent array of fields: towards a relational account of voluntary action

Thursday 27 March

12:00-14:00, Room 27, Park House, TSRC, University of Birmingham.

Research on voluntary action often seems, somewhat unwittingly, to work with a relatively fixed conception of a ‘sector’ consisting of bounded organisational entities: individual charities, community groups and social enterprises. This paper attempted to move beyond this conception by offering an alternative relational account of voluntary action. Drawing from field theory in economic sociology, this perspective emphasised the crowded, porous and dynamic social space of contested positions, discourses, relations and interactions between individuals and organisations typically grouped together as a ‘sector’.

This seminar aimed to shed light on the unfolding organisation and operation of multiple and overlapping fields of voluntary action. It outlined and illustrated some key conceptual tools in field theory using examples taken firstly from qualitative research with voluntary organisations in advice and family support services, and secondly from the wider promotion of agendas around ‘impact’ and social investment.

Speaker: Rob Macmillanis a Research Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre. His research interests primarily focus on capacity building and infrastructure, and the relationship between markets and the third sector.



A brave new world for infrastructure?Vouchers, markets and demand led capacity building.

Wednesday 19 March

14:00-16:00, NCVO, Regents Wharf, London.  

Download the Working Paper (PDF, 699KB)

Frontline voluntary and community organisations are often argued to need capacity building support of various kinds, but, in a context of austerity, how should this be organised and funded? This seminar compared three ‘demand-led’ capacity building initiatives in practice: the BIG Assist programme, and local schemes in Sheffield and Worcestershire. It considered the dilemmas involved in designing the architecture for an emerging market in capacity building, and for working within it. The seminar concluded by discussing the broader implications of ‘demand-led’ capacity building for the relationship between the voluntary sector and markets.

Speakers: Caron Waltonand Rob MacMillan.



The demand for social investment:

Where do social enterprises currently go, and where do they want to go?

Wednesday 12 March

12:00-14:00, Room 710 Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham.

A joint seminar from TSRC and the University of Birmingham Business School.

There is a growing interest in the provision of loan finance for social enterprises and other purpose organisations. While the supply of investment for social enterprise may be expanding, there remain questions over the nature of the demand for loan finance for social enterprises. The paper drew on analysis of the recent SEUK survey (2013) to identify where there is current use of loan finance. The results added to debates on the nature of finance for the social economy and the roles of commercial banks as well as specialist social investment organisations.

Speaker: Professor Fergus Lyonis a Professor of Enterprise and Organisations in the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research, Middlesex University. He has been leading the Social Enterprise streamof the Third Sector Research Centre as well as other contract research and evaluation projects.



Border disputes: the challenge of time banking.
Wednesday 19 February 2014

12:00-14:00, at TSRC, Park House, University of Birmingham.

Time banking has made a more visible appearance in policy documents since 2010, yet its development and application has been built around two contradictory sets of values. On the one hand, it offers a means by which self-help, within a neo-liberal agenda can be fostered as part of the scaling back of the welfare state. On the other, it offers the hope of salvation for society beleaguered by global neo-liberal forces by putting into practice non-capitalist values. This seminar explored this tension created through an examination of key claims made by both sides of the argument, whilst also seeking to offer some clarity as to exactly what time banking values.

Speaker: Lee Gregoryis a lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, his research interests include poverty, public health and the role of voluntary and community based organisations in delivering welfare. He tweets as @AcademicLee.  


 Understanding difference: the importance of place and space in the shaping of regional social economies

Thursday 6 February 2014
12:00-14:00, at TSRC, Park House, University of Birmingham.
With Micaela Mazzei

This seminar explored the importance of ‘place’ in shaping the space in which social economy develops. Drawing on the findings of doctoral research completed, this presentation warned against the uniformity of policy expectations as regards to ‘social enterprises’ and call for a better understanding of the various dimensions of difference and contextual determinants.

Speaker: Micaela Mazzeiwas awarded her PhD in September 2013, obtaining a PhD CASE studentship, funded by the ESRC, the University of Durham, the (former) Regional Development Agency - One North East, and as part of the Social Enterprise Research Cluster of TSRC. Prior to (re) joining academia, she worked as a consultant at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) in Manchester


  "Very small, very quiet, a whisper": Black and Minority Ethnic groups
- voice and influence

Tuesday 21 January 2014
12:00-14:00, at TSRC, Park House, University of Birmingham.

Phil Ware(TSRC Associate Fellow) presents and discusses his Working Paper at TSRC, Park House, Edgbaston Park Road, University of Birmingham.

Both funding cuts and policy changes have influenced the impact that the BME Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) groups can have. Based upon recent research findings (see TSRC Working Paper 103) into BME VCS organisations, this seminar presented the shared view that whilst there is a distinct BME sector, its voice and influence are limited; as suggested within the title, a quote taken from one of the interviews conducted. However, findings also identified considerable resistance by BME VCS organisations to perceived adverse policies.

Much can be learned from this seminar for the voluntary and community sector as a whole, and also for statutory organisations, funders and policy makers.


A good place to be a man? Gender, work and well-being in the third sector
Wednesday 15 January 2014

12:00–14:00, at TSRC, Park House, University of Birmingham.

"Previous studies have found that third employees enjoyed so called ‘job satisfaction premium’ – despite lower salaries than in other sectors, third sector employees are more satisfied with their jobs than workers in other sectors. Our study examined whether third sector employees also experience a ‘subjective well-being premium’ – higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction, fulfilment and lower levels of anxiety."

"Using data from the Annual Population Survey, we found that in general individuals employed in third sector have higher levels of subjective well-being; but more so if they are men and less so if they are women. We discussed implication of these findings for subjective well-being and third sector studies and management practices in the third sector."

Daiga Kamerāde presented this open seminar.


Rural communities: development and organising… state of play in 2014
Wednesday 8 January 2014

09:15-17:00 - Retford Town Hall, Bassetlaw.

Do you work with communities or are you a community activist, Parish or Town Clerk? Are you involved in planning or delivering rural services? 



NCVO presents: Performance management: what can be learnt from UK charities?

Monday 25 November 2013

6.00pm for 6.30pm start, followed by reception.

NCVO, Society Building, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL

Fozia Yamin, the second William Plowden fellow, gave a seminar to share some of her conclusions from the report she wrote during the Fellowship, which she held at the Department of Government, LSE.

The seminar was held at NCVO, Society Building, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL at 6pm for 6.30pm and is open to all.  


Squeezed in the middle?
A case study of organisational change in 'The Wise Group' 1998-2010

Wednesday 20 November 2013
12.00 -14.00, Garden Room, Park House, University of Birmingham.

Guest Speaker: Hayley Bennett from the University of Edinburgh's School of Social and Political Science.

Government rhetoric and policy discourse on the UK welfare-to-work quasi-market proclaims the need and virtue of contracting services to both third sector organisations (TSOs) and commercial actors. However, little is known about the TSOs involved, particularly how they have adapted and changed as the welfare-to-work market has developed over time.

This presentation covered the findings from a longitudinal qualitative study exploring how involvement in welfare-to-work contracting led to substantial organisational change in the Wise Group, a social enterprise based in Scotland. It contends that in line with the demands of the welfare-to-work quasi-market, the Wise Group (which was until 2010 one of the largest and most successful TSOs involved in welfare-to-work programme provision) experienced much change between 1998-2010 including a shift in activities, organisational structure, management techniques, branding, and service provision.

It is anticipated that this in-depth case study can provide an insight into the broader changes affecting TSOs and can help to fill the knowledge gap regarding organisational change and the marketisation of UK public service provision.

Getting on in the UK: migrants, ethnic minorities, networks, social mobility and integration

Friday 8 November, 11.00 - 13.00, Park House, University of Birmingham.

This seminardiscussed recent research findings on:

  • What types of social network do ethnic minorities and refugees possess?
  • Do social networks facilitate social mobility?
  • What is the role of social networks and capital in integration and inclusion?

This event brought together researchers from two project teams: the Nuffield Foundation funded Refugee Integration, Social Networks and Social Capital project (Birmingham and Cardiff) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Poverty, Ethnicity and Social Networks research (Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham), to co-present findings focusing on social networks, social media, and social capital in minority ethnic and refugee communities.

This event was also held in Cardiff and London. 

Third sector resilience: surviving in challenging times!
2pm, Wednesday 6 November, BVSC, Digbeth, Birmingham.

"The third sector has experienced a period of significant 'unsettlement' through the recession and subsequent government spending reductions, but there has been relatively little research on how organisations are being affected by these changes, and perhaps more importantly, how they are responding to them.

This workshop provided an opportunity for policy makers and practitioners from across Birmingham to hear the latest research from TSRC on the impact of economic and policy change, and to discuss with local organisations how they are responding to this."

This event was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2013




International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC)
2-4 September 2013

ISIRC brings together scholars from around the globe to discuss the role of innovation in social businesses, social movements, not-for-profits, state actors, and the broader social economy. 

Does sector matter when delivering employment services?
19 June 2013, London seminar

James Rees explored isomorphic pressures affecting sub-contractors in the work programme.

Innovations in Public Services, 17 June 2013

TSRC & UK-IRC explored what we mean by innovation in public services.
View presentations

Doing emotion, doing policy: the emotional role of “grassroots” community activists in policy making

16 May 2013, 2 - 3.30pm, London seminar


Poverty, Ethnicity and Social Networks- 22 May 2013, 1.30 – 4.30pm

This policy workshop looked at findings from research, conducted for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, into the role that social networks can play in poverty and social mobility? Research summary (pdf, 90KB)

The third sector in transition: TSRC and SRA seminar series, 9 May, 11 April and 20 March 2013

Three seminars explored the distribution of voluntary resources, the funding mix, and change on the ground

What is the future of the third sector? TSRC National Conference - 19 April 2013

British Library, London

Prospects for Developing Community Foundations in South Caucasus - 5 April 2013, Georgia

Conference held by the Centre for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia, with support of Community Development Journal (CDJ) and TSRC

Social enterprise and environmental sustainability: 16 April, Cardiff


Reconstructing social enterprise: an ESRC seminar series - 12 April 2013, Birmingham

Towards transformative co-production in local public services - 19 March 2013

Catherine Durose shared interim findings of a policy review - commissioned by the AHRC and conducted by the University of Birmingham - to help re-think the provision of local public services

Housing and community investment, where next? - 5 March 2013

This seminar at the University of Birmingham explored ways of measuring social impact within housing organisations

Northern Ireland Voluntary Action Futures: Research Agendas - 8 March 2013

This conference, held by NICVA, explored voluntary action in Northern Ireland and the resources available for research, including TSRC's Third Sector Knowledge Portal.

A strategic lead for the third sector? 14 February 2013, 2 - 3.30pm

London seminar - Third Sector Futures Dialogues

Rob Macmillan and Heather Buckingham explored what leadership should look like.

Past events 2012

Social Investment: promise and possibility- 27 November 2012

ESRC/TSRC Policy Seminar in collaboration with Nesta. 

The event looked at what social investment means for charities and voluntary organisations.

Social investment for the 21st Century- 5 November 2012

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

This event brought together social entrepreneurs, social investors and supporters of social enterprise to discuss new and emerging forms of social investment.

The third sector as public service providers- 22 October 2012

TSRC and the Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO) held an event to discuss third sector involvement in public service delivery, looking at key areas of employment, health, legal advice and criminal justice.

PhD Workshop at Cumberland Lodge- 4-5 October 2012

PhD students explored topical third sector issues with senior academics from the Third Sector Research Centre at a two-day workshop at Cumberland Lodge.

Equalities 'below the radar' research slam- 27 September, 10.30am - 3.30pm

This year's Below the Radar Reference Group meeting was an open event, discussing equalities research on BME organisations, destitute migrants, and Gypsy and Traveller groups.

4th International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC 2012)- 12-14 September 2012. TSRC hosted this years ISIRC conference at the University of Birmingham. 

More details

Working with the Grassroots: Learning from Community Organisers, Community Development & Community Engagement- 28 June 2012, 10.00am – 3.00pm

Policy seminars by TSRC and the Economic and Social Research Council, hosted by GMCVO in Manchester. More details

Social Enterprise & Equality series- June 2012

This series of events was organised with Globalnet21. It included a meeting at the House of Commons hosted by Chris White MP, and a series of webinars discussing social enterprise in relation to equalities issues. More information

Offenders and the third sector- 16 May 2012

TSRC conducted a two year research project looking at the role and impact of the third sector in criminal justice. This event explored the findings with criminal justice staff, policy makers and third sector groups. More

Social networking below the radar: social media or action media?- 4 April 2012

Held in partnership with Globalnet21 and hosted by the Big Lottery Fund, this event looked at the use of social media by below the radar groups. It culminated a series of Beyond the Radar events exploring the how community groups can maximise their impact. More details

Marrying scale and responsiveness - 8 March 2012, Birmingham

Policy seminar by TSRC and the ESRC exploring service delivery by third sector organisations. More