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Research: What does the workforce in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector do?

Over 44,000 people work in paid roles in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB). About 162,000 people regularly volunteer across all the VCSE organisations in the BOB area; collectively the time of volunteer is worth around £170m per year. The proportion of paid staff hours to volunteer hours in the VCSE sector is about 4:1.

But what exactly do these people do? What skills and knowledge do they have now and need in the future. What motivates people into paid roles and volunteer roles in BOB’s VCSE and how can we support people to find roles that they want to do and stay in the broader health and social care sector? These and many other questions form the basis of research the BOB team are doing to raise the profile of BOB’s VSCE workforce and enable organisations and colleagues across the health and care system to better understand BOB’s VCSE workforce.

It’s clear from the independent quantitative research report commissioned of Durham University’s Prof Tony Chapman that there is a lot about the VCSE workforce that is not widely understood. Recruitment and retention are becoming more difficult, with bigger organisations struggling more. A very high number of VCSE organisations in BOB report that they could not continue without the support of volunteers. Levels of investment in training and development are lower in BOB’s VCSE than the national average. Diversity by ethnicity and disability in chief officer and trustee roles is limited compared to the population profile and national averages, though two-thirds of organisations are led by a female CEO. We want to look at:

  • What motivates professionals and volunteers to work in the VCSE?
  • What factors support and undermine recruitment and retention?
  • What do workers and volunteers in the VCSE think about their peers the NHS and Local Government?
  • How does working in the VCSE impact on professionals and volunteers wellbeing and what are the VCSE doing to support people?
  • What learning and development support is available and how does the workforce feel about supporting health, care and social work students to do placements?

These are just some of the questions the research team wants to explore with people in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and create and narrative that helps people and organisations across local systems understand improve local workforce support for the VSCE. Examining things such as:

  • What are the roles of fundraisers and volunteer managers and what skills do they bring?
  • Is access to workplace benefit schemes relevant to VCSE professionals and volunteers?
  • Are career pathways of any value to VCSE professionals and volunteers?
  • Is it useful for the NHS and Local Government to co-invest in the learning and development of VCSE workers and volunteers through commissioning?

This work will help local people and organisations across the NHS and Local Government and the VCSE better understand the BOB workforce and what we can do to recruit and retain staff and improve the wellbeing of everyone working in BOB’s VCSE.

If you’d like to have a conversation or pull together a team or a group to talk about their work and careers, please get in touch with  Jim, Lynda or Stephen and one of us will be in touch.

We look forward to hearing from everyone.

Lynda Tarpey – lynda@hascaltd.co.uk

Jim Thomas – Jim.thomas@longhouseman.co.uk

Stephen Barnett – stephen@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

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