Community Research and Learning

 

Research at GMCVO is about understanding the role of voluntary action in Greater Manchester and the context in which it takes place. We apply research methods to our project delivery in order to generate learning around issues relating to the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in Greater Manchester and we conduct discrete research projects on specific issues. 

Encouraging the involvement and leadership of communities in addressing and resolving the issues that affect them is an integral part of who we are as an organisation. Our research aims to capture the learning we generate in doing so in order to inform a policy environment that is increasingly moving towards relational approaches. We want to share the learning our work produces, the successes and the failures.

We want to share the learning our work produces, the successes and the failures

We are interested in the mechanisms that facilitate spaces and places where citizens can lead lives that are supported by good associational activity, a sense of community and opportunities for networking, with a focus on how they work in a given context.
 
The importance of the role of the context in which voluntary action takes place means that what may work in one area may not work in another and what may be really beneficial in one place may be pointless or even detrimental in another. Likewise, the capacity for voluntary action is distributed unequally across society, thereby creating very different starting positions for different populations. Often the uneven distribution of assets across society correlates to deprivation. As a result of this, the question of what enables voluntary action is intimately linked to the inequalities that exist in Greater Manchester and that GMCVO exists to help address.

We hope that, through our learning, we can highlight complexity and the need to bring to bear diverse forms of expertise in order to work towards solutions

These inequalities are structural and deeply intractable, making it impossible for one actor or intervention to solve these problems single-handedly. Therefore, through our learning, we hope to highlight complexity and the need to bring to bear diverse forms of expertise in order to work towards solutions.

Because of our interest in the context and 'how' of voluntary action, we promote research methods that are able to take account of the contextual nature of social relations. Through our connections to organisations based in local communities we are ideally positioned either for undertaking such work or for supporting individuals in these organisations to do this themselves.

Why are we doing it?

Community-led research is essential to make the voice of citizens across Greater Manchester heard in efforts to understand and address the inequalities that persist in the city region.

Examples of the breadth of research that has taken place within GMCVO can be seen below. GMCVO research has been shared by linking directly to audiences in the VCSE and policy sector, whose practical work could be informed by this learning, but it has also been disseminated nationally and internationally in academic journals and at conferences.

We share our learning by linking directly to audiences in the VCSE sector and in policy whose practical work could be informed by this learning

How can we help?

If you are embarking on a research project and are based in the VCSE we may be able to support you with methods-based advice. Subject to funding we can also help in other ways.

We often conduct research in partnership, including with universities and statutory partners, and welcome enquiries from anyone who wants to explore joint projects.

We would  also like to hear from you if you have an idea for topics that we should research, or would like to commission a piece of research.

How can you get involved?

Please contact Susanne Martikke with any of your research-related enquiries   EMAIL SUSANNE

For peer support around research, please consider joining the Greater Manchester Third Sector Research Network   FIND OUT MORE