Reference Group

The Below the Radar Reference Group is made up of practitioners, policy-makers and academics who work with, represent or take and interest in community sector groups and activities.

The aims of the reference group are to:

  • Inform the Third Sector Research Centre’s work with small community based organisations
  • Comment on emerging research findings
  • Promote discussion on, and the dissemination of, research in this field.

Sixth Meeting: 16 September 2014

The sixth Below the Radar Reference Group and mini-conference took place at the Third Sector Research Centre on 16 September 2014. The event included debate on markets for voluntary sector infrastructure support, the role of social media in community action, the role of faith groups in austere times and rural BME community groups, as well as a session on future research priorities. Download a full report of the day.

View presentations from the day:

Fifth Meeting: 5 July 2013

‘Still Below the radar – a celebration’ combined the Below the Radar Reference Group meeting with a wider conference event. The day included a debate on the current issues facing voluntary and community groups – and how they could, and should, respond to policy change; with workshops on grassroots groups, policy formation and emotion, and on the voice and influence of BME groups. There was also a presentation on recent research findings on ethnicity, migration and the role of social networks in integration and combating poverty. Most of all the day was an opportunity (as current funding draws to an end) to celebrate the work of our research associates, volunteers, community researchers – and that of ‘below the radar’ groups themselves.

Fourth Meeting: 27 September 2012

The fourth Reference Group meeting was combined with an open workshop: Equalities Below the Radar and Research Slam. It brought together reference group members, research fellows and those interested in equalities issues. Associate Research Fellows presented research on BME voluntary organisations, support for destitute migrants, and Gypsy and Traveller community organisations.

Third Meeting: 6 October 2011

The meeting focused on two discussion papers. The first was on the Family Trees project, exploring how skills, knowledge and resources are gained and shared by community groups. The second looked at The Big Society One Year On, exploring the impact of policy change on community groups and activities. Updates were also given on Below the Radar social networking activity, the micro-mapping project and Real Times longitudinal study.

Members discussed key questions raised by the research and priorities for the team in the coming year. Concern was expressed not only about the cuts but also the way any money available would be distributed.

Reference Group members encouraged further development the of the Family Trees’ project to work with groups that had not been successful or were struggling; building on the micro-mapping work as a way of understanding complex networks ‘below the radar’; and continued ‘monitoring’ of the impact of policy changes/budget reduction strategies on community groups. Suggestions also included developing research into deprived white working class neighbourhoods and change in the BME community.

Second Meeting: 13 September 2010

Discussions focused on the place and role of 'below the radar' groups and activities in a 'Big Society' (see discussion paper) The group discussed challenges that the Big Society agenda posed for communities, practitioners and policy makers working with communities, and researchers. They also identified key questions for the below the radar researchers as the Big Society agenda unfolds.

The reference group also discussed evolving research on 'Family Trees', which explores the ways in which resources move around below the radar groups and individuals; their ongoing micro-mapping project; and some of the early findings and questions arising from the real times research.

Frist Meeting: 7 July 2009

The first reference group meeting took place in July 2009. The meeting was used to gain a general overview of the current issues and challenges faced by below the radar organisations and to explore the key questions, methods and issues in researching these organisations. The issues and questions arising from this meeting are outlined in this discussion paper. One of the main themes of discussion revolved around the need and difficulties in defining what is meant by 'below the radar'. Members were sent a definitions paper, which explored different dimensions of below the radar activity, and sought to identify different radars and key variables that might form the focus of research activity