Montage of Yorkshire and Humber scenes

Show me the evidence - report

Seminar, York, November 9th 2011

This Involve Yorkshire & Humber seminar was designed to demonstarte the research we and our partners have carried out into the voluntary sector, and the crucial importance of evidence-based research in forming policy.


Mark Crowe

    Peter Wells   Nadeem Murtuja

Key points

Dr Mark Crowe (independent consultant, author of Involve Yorkshire & Humber research)

  • the research community has been trying to create 'irrefutable and irrevocable evidence' from the 'loose, baggy monster' that is the voluntary sector.

  • the real trick is to use evidence to influence policy
  • The research, sponsored by Northern Rock, yielded statisticsfor Yorkshire and Humber including:

    • the sector provides 3% of the region's total paid employment

    • large urban areas and large rural areas, such as Craven, have the strongest density of organisations

    • there are as many unregistered or 'Below the Radar' organisations as there are registered ones

    • unregistered organisations are concentrated in areas of deprivation.

Professor Peter Wells (Director, Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University)

  • Related his data sets to the 'Big Society' agenda, whilst remarking on the apparent disappearance of that particular label.

  • Observed that the Coalition government is less concerned to be evidence-based than the previous regime, and that this has led to a cutting of research budgets and several longitudinal surveys being discontinued.

  • Referred to the wealth of measurement tools available to the voluntary sector for measuring impact. The main difficulty for organisations is the capacity to use them effectively. There is also an issue where the impact is felt 'downstream' - maybe years later in the case of children and young people. (See the Big Society report)

  • Peter's research located more voluntary organisations in wealthy areas such as North Yorkshire, and looked at their scale in terms of jobs, income, legal structure, and financial flows of organisations across the region.

  • Peter's research considers the vulnerability of organisations, in terms of the length of time their reserves can last.

  • As a sector, this research has helped to support and 'ground' what we know from experience and has given us some certainties when talking to the decision-makers of the present environment.

Nadeem Murtuja (Policy and Change Manager, Adults and Communities, Doncaster Council)

  • Had to report on impact of cutting grant funding to voluntary sector organisations - he needed good data

  • The data was vital in showing that the Doncaster economy was 'absolutely not' strong enough to withstand such cuts 'absolutely not'

  • 'We would not have been able to do the work without the support provided by Involve Yorkshire & Humber'

  • Councillors had to take notice of the figures

  • Doncaster is now launching a Civil Society Registration Scheme

Mark Hopley (Deputy Director, Harrogate & Area CVS)

  • used Involve Yorkshire & Humber research to paint vivid picture of need and build a successful business case for funding

  • now using Involve data on a local review of infrastructure, and in their Transforming Local Infrastructure bid

Judy Robinson (Chief Executive, Involve Yorkshire & Humber)

  • 'We were determined to get robust data which stood comparison with other industries'

  • 'The argument about 'the North' matters - our evidence contributes to that discussion'

  • 'Voluntary organisations in the region are extremely vulnerable financially - we want to do research on this'

Future seminars

Involve Yorkshire & Humber runs a programme of seminars to help the voluntary sector to get the facts and what they mean. Contact us if you would like to be told directly about forthcoming seminars.

'We would not have been able to do the work without the support provided by Involve Yorkshire & Humber'

Nadeem Murtuja
Doncaster Council

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