Birmingham University has won a five-year contract to run a new £10 million research centre that will look into the work of charities and social enterprises.
The university, backed by the University of Southampton, will run the Third Sector Research Centre, along with a large group of voluntary sector organisations from September.
Pete Alcock, the head of social sciences at the university, has been named as the director of the new research centre. He said: “We want to have all the major sector-wide agencies involved because we are committed to research that is valuable to the sector and can be disseminated across it.”
He promised to provide an “extensive and robust research resource” for the third sector that will help it demonstrate the value of its work.
The centre will conduct research into how good charities are at delivering public services. It will publish an annual ‘state of the sector’ report showing what research is being undertaken each year.
The Barrow Cadbury Trust is one of the groups backing the new research centre. It put up £250,000 to back it.
Chief executive Sukhvinder Stubbs said there had never been anything like the centre before, and it would be a valuable resource for Birmingham and the whole third sector.
She said: “It will start to identify what research is already available, bring that together and identify the gaps that exist. It’s about how we can improve the delivery of public services in a way that caters for some of the poorest people in the country.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the university, and it’s also a really wonderful opportunity for the voluntary and community groups in Birmingham.”
Birmingham University had to beat nationwide competition to become the home of the new research centre. Voluntary groups have been campaigning for more than a decade to get the Government to set it up.
The Economic and Social Research Council and the Office of the Third Sector will each contribute £5 million towards the centre, with the Barrow Cadbury Trust adding £250,000.
Phil Hope, the Minister for the Third Sector, said: “This is a very exciting development. This will be a centre for the whole sector, with academics working alongside charities, social enterprises and small community associations to develop the evidence base on the sector and the impact it has on people’s lives.”
Other organisations involved in securing the bid for Birmingham include Acevo, the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector, Charities Evaluation Services, the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, Futurebuilders England, GuideStar UK, the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Institute for Volunteering Research, the NCVO, the Social Enterprise Coalition, UnLtd and Voice4Change England.