Voluntary and community sector

CRESR has expertise and a long standing interest in the study of the voluntary and community sector. We undertake research both for and about the sector.

Our work focuses on:

  • measuring and mapping the voluntary and community sector
  • measuring outcomes and impact, including of social return on investment
  • approaches to social investment and funding
  • understanding sustainability, resilience and financial vulnerability
  • engagement and participation of communities

We also undertake research on specific social, economic and policy issues for clients. For example, we carried out research on hidden homelessness for the housing charity Crisis and have looked at the role of community businesses for rural community councils.

Search our work

Evaluation of Black Thrive

Project Director: Chris Dayson
Project Duration: 2018-2023

An evaluation of Black Thrive, a long term partnership between the public and voluntary sectors in Lambeth that aims to improve the experiences, access and outcomes for Black people in the area of mental health services.

Our Bigger Story: the Longitudinal Multi Media Evaluation of Big Local

Project Director: Angus McCabe (University of Birmingham)
Project Duration: 2020-2022

Big Local is a long-term resident-led programme established in 2010 which provides resources and support to 150 communities across England. It works with an underpinning ethos expressed in the hypothesis that ‘long term funding and support to build capacity gives residents in ‘hyperlocal’ areas agency to take decisions and to act to create positive and lasting change’. 'Our Bigger Story' is the longitudinal multi-media evaluation that runs alongside Big Local, charting the stories of change in 15 different Big Local areas, covering urban, rural and seaside communities.

Evaluation of phase two of South Yorkshire Housing Association’s Building Better Opportunities service

Project Director: Ian Wilson
Project Duration: 2020-2022

South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) has commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University to evaluate phase two of its Building Better Opportunities (BBO) service.

Volunteering in Community Business: meaning, practice and management

Project Director: Dr Rob Macmillan
Project Duration: 2020-2021

This project aims to explore how volunteering is understood and enacted in different ways in community business, and to identify the implications of this for volunteering experiences and outcomes.

Communities Response COVID-19

Project Director: Angus McCabe (University of Birmingham)
Project Duration: 2020-2021

Local Trust has commissioned in-depth research to look how communities across England respond to COVID-19 and how they recover. The research, undertaken by a team of researchers led by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) at the University of Birmingham, looks at how 26 different communities fare during and after the coronavirus crisis. The findings will provide insight into the impact of unexpected demands or crisis on local communities, and the factors that shape their resilience, response and recovery.

Get in touch

For further information please contact Sarah Pearson at or call 0114 225 4902,
or Professor Peter Wells at or call 0114 225 6262.

Key clients

Action Together
Age UK
Big Lottery Fund
Bolton CVS
British Red Cross
Cabinet Office
Centre for Ageing Better
Church Urban Fund
Community Fund
Community Links
CVS Rochdale
Economic and Social Research Council
Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT)
Groundwork UK
Health Action Local Engagement
Healthwatch Lambeth
Heritage Lottery Fund
Home Office
Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council
Involve Yorkshire and Humber
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales
Local Trust
National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA)
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
NHS Nottingham City CCG
Northern Rock Foundation
Power to Change
Rotherham Hospital Aftercare Service
Rural Action Derbyshire
Salford CVS
South Yorkshire Housing Association
Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Trussell Trust
Voluntary Action Rotherham
Yorkshire Adoption Agency
Yorkshire Rural Community Council
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