Bowling along: community leaders in East London

Document type
Locke, Michael; Sampson, Alice; Shepherd, Julie
Date of publication
1 April 2001
Voluntary Action: the journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research. Vol. 3; Number 2
Volunteering, Community Development and Regeneration
Social welfare
Material type

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This article reports on a study of the factors involved in volunteering for twelve 'community leaders' in east London. It begins by looking at the policy and research context for such a study, including the concept of 'social capital' and the support New Labour gives to volunteering. There follows an analysis of what prompted the respondents to volunteer in the first place – under the separate headings of specific triggers (such as being asked), a generalised predisposition to volunteer and feelings about the place where they live – and of what persuaded them to remain as volunteers, including the support given by local authorities and by national and local voluntary organisations respectively. These findings lead the authors to two conclusions: there was no consistent evidence that ways of cooperative working were being ‘invested’ so that they could be drawn on in future, thus challenging the concept of 'social capital'; and the fact that the respondents received as much support from the public sector as from the voluntary sector might suggest that 'an active community would be more effectively supported through general public provision or civic infrastructure than through specific initiatives'.

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