On 20th May we received the sad news that Duncan Scott had passed away after suffering a stroke. Duncan had a long association with GMCVO and was a key figure in the voluntary sector research community.
A Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Manchester he became interested in the study of the voluntary sector early on and always worked to establish connections between academic research and the practice of voluntary sector organisations. His connection with GMCVO and other local and national voluntary sector infrastructure organisations was a logical outcome of this interest.
GMCVO director Alex Whinnom remembered: “I first started arguing with him (in a good way) soon after joining GMCVO, so must go back 15 years - and he's obviously been working away on all the social economy stuff for a long time before that. He was ahead of the game with his leaky bucket version of social value and local economies. A proper practical academic always reaching outwards and interested in everything! He has been a great friend to our VCSE sector in Greater Manchester, and to GMCVO."
Duncan was a regular visitor to GMCVO during the 1990s, when he printed some of his work at the Print Unit and relied on then information officer David Sutcliffe to publicise his findings to voluntary sector audiences. These included studies funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the funding of voluntary organisations, the impact of contracting on volunteering and broader issues facing the sector.
David and GMCVO researcher Susanne Martikke collaborated with Duncan on research-related events. Examples were “Using Research” in 2006 and “Spoilt for Choice – research methods for the voluntary sector” in 2007. David recalled: “He was a hugely energetic character, with an infectious passion for his subject - and it was quite an education to be in meetings with him to hear his views and propositions on research, always colourfully and eloquently expressed.”
These events were inspirational for GMCVO staff, but more importantly created awareness among voluntary sector organisations in Greater Manchester of the potential of research as a tool. They were also forums where participants could make research-related connections that proved to be useful for the future research work of GMCVO and the sector at large.
For Susanne, who had joined GMCVO as a researcher in 2005, Duncan was an important mentor: “When I first joined GMCVO I had just moved to the UK and was completely new to the politics of Greater Manchester and to voluntary sector research. Duncan was incredibly supportive and encouraging, linking me into the wider research community, such as the Voluntary Sector Studies Network and its annual conference. I think knowing him was a big part of what eventually inspired me to take up a PhD in sociology”.
When Susanne worked with Claire Hannibal, who was then at the University of Manchester Business School, to establish the Greater Manchester Third Sector Research Network in 2009, Duncan was part of the first core of founding members, supporting the idea of a network and helping with developing the content of network sessions and with attracting speakers. He was a proud member of the network and, as the network grew over the years, always reminded Claire and Susanne how meaningful this was.
Claire said: “I loved his stories of his qualitative research adventures and he inspired me to be bold in my approaches to research. Duncan was so warm, and so passionate about research, that he inspired all of us in the network to keep going, even when we were finding our projects tough.” Bernard Leach, who first met him at the network, said: “I liked him a lot. Always friendly, always welcoming and a good researcher.”
Duncan remained part of the network and came back to visit even after moving away from the North West. We just saw him at GMCVO in February 2020 at the “Ten Years of Change” event. We did not think that it would be the last time.