Here the Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research answers some questions after receiving the award.
What did you want/hope to achieve? What was your objective?
For IVR collaboration and inclusive involvement are a way of working. Our vision is for a world in which the power and energy of volunteering is well understood, where no one gets ‘used’, so that individuals can be confident and feel safe about their decisions to volunteer and policy decisions are made on solid evidence and scientifically robustly produced knowledge. We can only achieve this by working inclusively and collaboratively. For us inclusive involvement in research is about being involved.
Could you tell us about the impact you feel it has had?
At IVR, we have been undertaking collaborative research since volunteering got more international recognition in the late 1990s, for example, when we evaluated the very first international year of the volunteer in 2001, in association with the Development Resource Centre of South Africa. Since then, we have been able to shape and share awareness and appreciation of volunteering, illustrate the power of volunteers, strengthen evidence about equity and inclusion and help translate all this into policy and practice of volunteer involvement.
How did it feel to be nominated for the award? What does the winning the award mean to you?
At IVR we are extremely grateful to have been nominated and absolutely delighted about receiving this wonderful recognition of the way we work. It is important to say that IVR’s strength and success comes from the many who collaborate with us. Special thanks go to the colleagues within UEA and also to the members of our Advisory Panel. They share in this award.
How does it feel to have your engagement acknowledged by the university/your peers?
For me personally, after three decades of working collaboratively, at times against the flow of dominant academic opinion, holding on to a belief in the value of inclusive involvement in research, I am relieved to see that things are beginning to change and I am humbled to be pointed out for an award.
Why is engagement important to you? Why do you think it is important for UEA?
The reasons for effective inclusive involvement in research are epistemological, moral and practical. We can have more reliable research findings by combining knowledges. It is no longer ok, if it ever was, to exclude those directly affected by the research we are undertaking. And of course, as a university with a civic mission, our organisational, personal and professional links to the communities in which we are based, are essential to ground our research, our staff and our students. For me personally, engagement is joyous. And at IVR everything we do should be at least a little bit joyous, because that’s the best motivator for ongoing volunteering and volunteering research. I don’t undertake engagement because it is enjoyable, but I keep going because it is.