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Third sector research centre launches

The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) officially opens its doors today (Thursday, 23rd October), at the University of Birmingham. The TSRC will be led by Professor Pete Alcock of the University of Birmingham, in a joint venture with the University of Southampton where Professor John Mohan will Deputy Director. The funding of £10.25 million over the next five years will come from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Office of the Third Sector (OTS) and The Barrow Cadbury Trust.

“The Centre will bring together experts from a wide range of disciplines;” explained Professor Alcock “It is dedicated to analysing the impact of the sector's activities, its purpose is to conduct research and analysis to strengthen the evidence base for the entire third sector, including charities, social enterprises and small community organisations. It will work to deliver research into the effectiveness and impact of third sector organisations; mapping of the sector, and an enhanced understanding of its dynamics; specific research programmes of direct relevance to third sector policy and practice.”

Professor Mohan commented, "This is a challenging but exciting time for the Third Sector. It is a new opportunity to provide an extensive and robust research resource for the Third Sector and to work closely with both policy makers and practitioners in building capacity and engagement."

Kevin Brennan, Minister of the Third Sector, added: "This new research centre is an important part of the Government’s strategy to create the environment for a thriving third sector. Robust evidence is a key to that. The best way to attract financial support is to have clear evidence of the effectiveness of the third sector in changing society for the better. This new centre will help us all to show what works and what is special about the third sector.”

Professor Ian Diamond, Chief Executive of the ESRC said, “This Centre forms an integral part of our strategic aims for this sector. It is a fundamental part of our ongoing commitment to provide cutting edge research that will impact directly on UK society. The research provided will be of significant value to those working in the sector and will provide a strategic base for future development within the sector.”

A spokesperson from The Barrow Cadbury Trust, said: "The Barrow Cadbury Trust is very pleased to be joint-funding the Third Sector Research Centre at Birmingham University. We look forward to the significant contribution that the new centre will make to third sector research. We are particularly excited about funding a stream of research within the centre, focusing on the role of the third sector in promoting engagement and participation among disadvantaged groups."

Supporting the work of the Third Sector Research Centre will be two capacity building clusters (CBCs), led by the University of Middlesex and Lincoln University, with the CBC in Middlesex focusing specifically on social enterprises. The CBCs will provide both the next generation of high quality researchers and be a resource for the sector. The clusters will provide activities such as studentships, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Third Sector placements and an innovative voucher scheme designed to allow Third Sector organisations to "buy in" academic expertise.

Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said: “NCVO has campaigned long and hard for investment in the third sector evidence base. The new Centre is integral to our vision of a sector supported by the best quality research. We will actively support the Third Sector Research Centre to ensure that it engages the sector, by informing and communicating with frontline organisations.”

Danielle Moore | alfa
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