Trust and UU to launch Sector Independence Research Project
UU's Nick Acheson (centre right) with the Trust's Nigel McKinney (second right) at the launch of our initial research into sector independence in July 2013.

Trust and UU to launch Sector Independence Research Project

26 March 2015

Ulster University Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) has been commissioned by the Building Change Trust to carry out research on the independence of the Voluntary, Community and Social Economy (VCSE) sector in Northern Ireland.

The event will take place at NICVA at 10:30 on Wednesday April 22nd.

The future of an independent voluntary sector has become a matter of intense debate in England and a growing body of evidence is emerging on the nature of the challenges faced by voluntary and community organizations.

A combination of cuts in government funding and the increasing role of voluntary and community organisations in delivering public services, often in competition with private companies, is creating considerable turmoil.

However, the Trust know very little about how voluntary and community organisations in Northern Ireland are coping and the extent to which they are able to maintain independence of voice, purpose and action.

This research will provide the sector with a systematic insight for the first time.

Paul Braithwaite, who heads up the Trust's work in this area, said: 

“As part of our dedication to helping the VCSE Sector change and develop, the Trust believes looking at its independence – particularly in times of cuts to government funding – is fundamental in shaping its future.

“The sector should be innovative, vibrant and free to help those most in need.

"Through commissioning Ulster University to carry out this research we will produce detailed, evidence-based research on the state of the sector’s independence in Northern Ireland and equip organisations to analyse and uphold their own independence from government and other private interests.

“We are excited to be working with the team at Ulster University and believe they will bring experience and expertise to an extremely important issue”. 

The research project has two aims. The first is to design an “Independence toolkit” that voluntary sector organizations will be able to use beyond the lifetime of the project to benchmark their independence against an agreed set of measures.

The second is to collect qualitative and quantitative data on the state of voluntary sector independence in Northern Ireland that will lead to the publication of two annual reports on the subject.

At this seminar, participants will have the opportunity to hear more about the research, engage with the research team and find out how they can get involved.

To register for the event, please click here. 

For more information, please contact Paul Braithwaite at or on 02890 245 927.