ARVAC events

ARVAC 2022 Events.

ARVAC Events in 2022


Throughout the pandemic in 2020 and 2021  ARVAC ran its usual key public events on line . We intend to continue this approach in 2022 and the ARVAC Trustees have decided to increase the number of events we offer and the nature of them too. We recognise that for practical and reasons of personal choice it is entirely appropriate that we continue to  offer free events on line. We have decided to change the nature of events as well expand our offer  and we hope the following descriptions help as you navigate around the offer we have to you all .

We made two important decisions too at our 2021 AGM: we recognise that we have a responsibility to make our contribution to strengthening the principles of Equality , Diversity and Inclusion within our own practice and  across the sectors we work in . The events we have planned are part of our contribution to meeting these expectations and commitments made . Secondly , we recognise too that often our events reflect a particular focus on the UK and we are committed to internationalising where it’s appropriate the content and remit  of our events.



OPEN : all ARVAC events which are described as ‘open’ are freely available to all those who wish to attend . They will , always, include our ANNUAL PUBLIC TALK and our ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING . We will be hosting a number of other events during the year which will be open to any one who would like to join us .

IN CONVERSATION : in 2021 we started our ‘ in conversation ‘ events which will be open to anyone who would like to join . They are short ( usually 1 hour ) and are a conversation between ARVAC and an invited guest – either a practitioner or a researcher –  but someone with experience and insights who are very willing to share their experiences.

ARVAC BRIEFINGS : we are launching these in 2022. They are intended to be short and topical and designed to raise questions and encourage reflections on policy questions informed by practice . We will draw on these to draft ARVAC Positioning statements which will be disseminated via the ARVAC website .

ARVAC ROUNDTABLES : we will be running at least one Roundtable in 2022. They will be ‘closed’ events and the summaries of discussions and key points will be disseminated through the ARVAC website .

ARVAC WEBINARS : we will be running at least one of these in 2022. They will be ‘open ‘ events and the key points and discussion summaries will be disseminated through the ARVAC website .



 ARVAC Public Talk  Levels and Mirrors – Inclusive Leadership in Action. Jeanette Bain-Burnett, Director of Participation Trussell  Wednesday 15th June 2-4pm ZOOM. 

Description: In this talk I’ll share reflections and insights from 15 years working to increase equity and inclusion across the arts, culture, higher education, social policy and political spheres. What strategies and approaches should we hold on to; which ones could we let go; and how can we draw on what’s been learned over the years across sectors to imagine and enact an equal future for all?

Booking Link  

Speaker Biography. Jeanette Bain-Burnett

Jeanette joined the Trussell Trust in March 2021 as Director of Participation following five years leading social policy and community engagement programmes for the Mayor of London, including as Assistant Director, Communities and Social Policy; Head of Community Engagement and Communities Lead for the Mayor’s Violence Reduction Unit. Jeanette’s background is in the dance and theatre sector. She served as Director/CEO of the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (2007-2014) and has been a trustee of several theatres and dance organisations. Jeanette has also worked as a senior consultant for Arts Council England, BBC Arts and Voluntary Arts (now Creative Lives).  She was born in London, grew up in Jamaica and is currently based in Bristol.


Governance and the Sector : Learning Lessons  and Anticipating Challenges for Trustees. How can we support and promote good practice across the sector – irrespective of size , remit and location? 

Governance challenges for the Sector : Working through some irreconcilable issues

The importance of good governance within the sector and for the sector is understood and valued. One of the challenges all voluntary and community based organisations face is to ensure not just regulatory compliance but also sustaining the quality of decisions and practice in difficult and highly challenging environments. The risk of the present is to become over focussed on the pandemic as a disrupter of ways of working. Arguably two of the biggest disruptions over the past 20 years have been financial and regulatory requirements. Both of these impact on time and voluntary organisations rely on volunteers to be trustees . This pattern of disruption and challenge has been mirrored across education and health too. What can be done to support small and medium size organisations ? Is part of the issue a legal and regulatory one ? Have we become too quick to set up agencies and use regulation as a way of establishing them in a formal and legal  sense ? And is part of our wish to do this , also, a reaction to the failures of state agencies (whether it is social and health care organisations or education or neighbourhood based initiatives) ? And how do we support individuals who are either trustees or paid staff ? Whose needs do we address ? Governance in one sense might be seen as ensuring that processes and procedures are followed . It might be that plus : good governance might , also, be about ensuring the quality of decisions as well as the work alongside the well being of those who volunteer.

In this webinar we want to explore some of these issues and to think through what might be the next steps to take to ensure that the vulnerability of some parts of the sector is not weakened by an absence of good governance.

A summary of key points and actions will be posted afterwards ..  



ARVAC 2021 Events

ARVAC Annual Lecture 2021 by Professor Donna Hall

Tue, May 11, 2021 3:00 PM

‘Communities have been essential to the COVID response but how do we build on this in the longer term? How do Communities use their voice to shape the future of public services ?’As part of ARVAC’s annual programme we host a Public Talk. We are delighted that Donna Hall has agreed to do the 2021 talk. We do hope you will join us on the 11 May. Please do register for the event .Donna will talk for about 30 minutes and then we will have a Q and A session followed by small group discussions facilitated by ARVAC.We are living through a profound period of change and the impact of the pandemic is still been worked through. We know that for many individuals, families and communities the presence of volunteers and voluntary groups supporting public services and larger charities have been critical in providing practical support and a emotional support too. What happens next and what the big issues for all of us to imagine and engage with are key themes of the talk by Donna Hall. Please do join us.We are planning that Donna Hall’s talk will be 30 mins , followed by a short Q and A and then we will go into breakout rooms to discuss our response to her talk ( 25 mins) and come back together for a plenary discussion as Donna Hall and 2 panelists respond to the questions and issues raised (20 mins).We will end by 17.00. ARVAC will circulate a summary of the discussions to everyone who would like a copy.We do look forward to meeting with you on May 11th.Thank you .

About Donna Hall Donna was awarded the CBE in 2009 for innovation in public service and was Transformational Leader in the Northern Powerhouse Awards 2017 and she has been described by Andy Burnham ( metro mayor of Greater Manchester) as a ‘public service pioneer’. Donna was CEO of Wigan Council for 8 years where she developed the Wigan Deal and was ,also, the accountable officer for the Wigan CCG. She is a passionate feminist who championed ‘Believe in Her’ and led to a major equality change programme to ensure Wigan Council now has a zero gender pay gap. She is now the chair of New Local, the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Possibilities ( a local social enterprise supporting people with learning disabilities ). In 2019 she was appointed an Honorary Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester and is a Non Executive Adviser to Birmingham City Council and Nottingham City Council. She is, also, an Integrated Care System Adviser to NHS England. Adopted as a child she is passionate about person centred public services and communities. 

ARVAC Webinar – Social Anthropology: In the neighbourhood

Wed, Sep 15, 2021 2:00 PM

Dr. Robin Pharoah is Director of Global Insights at Future Agenda. He worked with Wigan Council on what became known as the Wigan Deal and is working with other local councils to help support them in how they can draw on ethnographic and strengths-based approaches to change . His approach using ethnographic research techniques is intended to help local government think about how engage in long term planning and change. He brings cross-sector expertise to the different settings he works in and has particular specialisms in research and innovation, community engagement and frontline service delivery and digital identity and data privacy.

Join us for hour of conversation and discussion where we explore with Robin what do social anthropologists do and why are they relevant for those of us working in community settings? What did having Robin involved in the Wigan Deal mean for what happened and what lessons can we take from that and can we apply them elsewhere ? How can ARVAC and you support neighbourhood groups who might want to work with social anthropologists ?

Places are free but registration is required.


Thu, Dec 16, 2021 11:00 AM

We’d like to invite you to our rescheduled 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 16th December. The AGM will take place online from 11:00am – 12:30pm and you’ll receive a zoom link for the event and the papers for the AGM once you register for your free place. 

As part of this year’s AGM we want to discuss ARVAC’s commitment to anti-racism.

The AGM will run from 11:00 – 11:30. After that we will discuss a public statement and a plan reflecting our commitment to anti-racism 11:30 – 12:30. 

We hope to see you online on the 16th December.

Remember, as the AGM will be online you need to register here for free. Will can then send you a zoom link before the AGM.



How can how communities and universities work as civic partnerships?
Learn more at ARVAC’s first ever online Annual Lecture on 29th June and hear Lord Robert Kerslake, Chair of the Civic University Commission, speak.
For too long, seeking to build partnerships with their local communities has been the ‘poor cousin’ of the national and global ambitions of the Higher Education sector. At a time when the value of community living and working is being radically revalued, universities will need to demonstrate that they too are giving much higher priority to the places and local communities that host them. The recent report of the Civic University Commission calls for universities to reframe how they approach their relationship to place, and to the people who live there.

In the current COVID 19 crisis, connecting universities’ business with their local communities is especially pressing, since universities are experiencing uncertainty over their future role and function post-pandemic.

Lord Kerslake is the Chair of Sheffield Hallam University, Chair of Peabody, Chair of the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS), Chair of London Collective Investment Vehicle, and is President of the Local Government Association.

A former Head of the Civil Service, Bob led the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from November 2010, stepping down in February 2015. Prior to his DCLG role, he was the first Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency.

Before joining the Civil Service Bob received a knighthood for his services to local government, spending eight years serving the London Borough of Hounslow and then a further 11 years leading Sheffield Council. In early 2015, he was made a life peer, taking the title Baron Kerslake, of Endcliffe in the City of Sheffield.


Engendering trust in evidence ‘Co-production – making community research work’

ARVAC collaborated with the Institute for Volunteering Research the NIHR East of England Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research & Care to organise this year’ Annual Lecture in Norwich, 17 July 2019.

Thank you to everyone who attended and joined the debate.

Fiona Poland opened the proceedings. She was twice Chair of the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC). She is Professor at UEA and her research projects and publications explore how and how far community connections and participation may affect access to resources for health and wellbeing.




The event was chaired by Brian Horner, who is a trustee for both the Norfolk Museums Development Foundation and the Norfolk Archives and Heritage Development Foundation having retired as Chief Executive of Voluntary Norfolk in 2015, after over 10 years in post. In addition, he is Co-chair of the Delivery Board for an ESRC funded programme at the University of East Anglia.




The first speaker was Heather Edwards who founded and leads Come Singing groups for people living with memory loss and is the originator of Music Mirrors. She was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to dementia in 2017. Visit her sites at and




Our second speaker was David Walker who is Vice Chair of Voluntary Norfolk. He took up the historic civic office of Sheriff of Norwich in May 2017, prior to which he was clerk (effectively chief executive) to Norwich Charitable Trusts, from which he retired in August 2016.




Our final speaker was Jeff Prosser who is Chair of Age UK Norfolk. He is a qualified social worker who has worked in managerial settings in the UK in social services and the health and private sectors. His last major role was as Director of Housing and Social Services in the London Borough of Barnet. Following retirement Jeff was also appointed Chair of Flagship Housing Group and of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Trust in King’s Lynn.

*For technical reasons the audio from Jeff Prosser presentation is currently unavailable 


ARVAC aims to support building evidence to promote community action. The 2019 Lecture speakers underlined how developing research questions relevant to communities should be based on sharing experiences. We heard how momentum is growing to ensure communities have more say in setting research priorities and in allocating funding for research. Having a say therefore includes taking time to share stories, learning from practice, and to provide evidence on how we can make quality connections between communities, evidence and resources. ‘Knowledge Partnerships’ can be built to ensure we learn from practice.  But available knowledge and partnerships are always changing. So organisations have to work flexibly to stay in tune with local issues and priorities.

Community research priorities are increasingly around seeking evidence of need, promoting community sustainability by helping them gain credibility to gain funding and to set the quality standards affecting funding.  Research into effectiveness and cost effectiveness are not as high up the community agenda as they are for some of the big health and social care funders.  A role for ARVAC may therefore be to support priority-setting between communities, funders and researchers.

We heard how communities are being asked to provide new types of evidence to funders. The Charity Commission requires evidence on the impact of charitable funding – and this is another type of evidence local communities now often need to provide.  One way to show this evidence is for communities to know and be known by their funders, via building longer-term relationships which can build credibility on both sides.  Funders need to recognise that volunteer-run services can improve access and inclusion. Sharing volunteer/service user experiences can help co-produce priorities, standards and evidence. Making time for face-to-face relationships between people who provide and use information is key.  This can be easier where there are existing long term relationships, such as Age-Friendly Communities, which can help build more trust in what research says, how to use it to shape activities and services.

Researchers need relevant experience to support this kind of co-production with communities.  Funders Forums need to take time to talk to local communities about their priorities for gaining and using evidence.

ARVAC has resources to help people carry out their own research and to run community activities as with the Getting Started toolkit, its Annual Conference on Challenges for Community research, its Annual Lecture and its Governance Pages.

ARVAC AGM and annual conference 2018

On Tuesday 13 November 2018 we held our 2018 AGM and annual conference, and also celebrated our 40th anniversary. As part of this we also re-launched our resource for community researchers, Getting Started

The theme of the conference was Spaces for Community Action. An exciting range of speakers joined us for a topical, timely and important afternoon exploring citizen engagement in parks, typologies of spaces in community action and the role of community spaces for the future of communities.

Speakers included:

You can find out more about the event and download presentations here

2018 also saw us mark our 40th birthday and the re-launch of Getting Started, our resource for community researchers. We took some time out to pause and celebrate ARVAC’s work and to consider what lies ahead. We also heard from the researcher leading the re-vamp of our most popular resource for community researchers. 

ARVAC Annual lecture

Patient and Public involvement – the role of the community in health and social care research

Thank you to everyone who attended our annual lecture, which we held in London on the 17th July 2018. The event was chaired by Colin Rochester and the afternoon’s speakers were:

Peter Beresford OBE, Professor of Citizen Participation at the University of Essex. Download Peter’s presentation notes. Listen to Peter’s presentation here:




Jurgen Grotz, Senior Research Associate for the Patient and Public Involvement Research theme of the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) East of England. Download Jurgen’s PowerPoint slides. Listen to Jurgen’s presentation here:




Savitri Hensman, the Patient and Public Involvement Coordinator at the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) South London and based in the Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) team at King’s College London. Download Savitri’s presentation notes. Listen to Savitri’s presentation here:




Speakers explained that involving Patient and Public representatives and communities is complex and potentially flawed but can be a rich and rewarding contribution to health and social care research. Speakers pointed out that it is not a substitute for specific service user involvement and called for a better understanding of the potential and the limitations of Patient and Public Involvement. There was a clear call that in our challenging policy environment participation must embrace the personal and the political and their interrelations.

Following some discussion participants raised a range of questions we or others might wish to address in future work:

  • parity of esteem between Patient and Public representatives and researchers and how payments may reflect this;
  • practical implementation issues such as researcher’s ability to deal with the emotional needs of Patient and Public representatives;
  • the status of Patient and Public representatives as volunteers and the implications of this such as the need for clarity about the expected outcomes of their involvement;
  • lack of knowledge of how many Patient and Public representatives there are and who involves them.

ARVAC is delighted that Patient and Public Involvement in health and social care is taking place, but as the speakers explained and some of the participants pointed out, there is still a long way to go to make it work in the best interest for all. 

ARVAC Annual Conference and 2017 AGM

Thank you to everyone who came to our annual conference and AGM which we held on the 6thFebruary 2018 in London.

It was a fantastic afternoon and the event included two excellent presentations, from Nick Mahoney of the Raymond Williams Foundation and Paul Black of Nottingham Civic Exchange.

Nick Mahoney – ‘Participatory democracy in the age of angry publics’

‘Putting democracy and engagement in university research’ – Paula Black