Colin Rochester

Colin’s special interests are:

  • Small organisations and community groups
  • Leadership and governance
  • Infrastructure and second tier bodies
  • Volunteering
  • Inter-agency collaboration and mergers
  • Relationships between voluntary organisations and central and local government.

Colin has worked in and with the voluntary and community sector for forty-five years as a practitioner, consultant and academic. He spent ten years as tutor-organiser for Hertfordshire (responsible for fifteen volunteer-led local branches) and national development officer for the Workers Educational Association and ten years as head of Cambridge House and Talbot Settlement (responsible for everything from strategy to plumbing). In the mid-1980s he was one of the first postgraduate students to specialise in the study of the voluntary sector at Brunel University, where he received an MA in Public and Social Administration. This led to a second career as lecturer, researcher and consultant at the Centre for Voluntary Organisation, London School of Economics and Political Science; Centre for the Study of Voluntary and Community Activity, University of Roehampton, which he founded; and School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London.

Colin has carried out a wide range of work as a consultant for organisations as diverse as the AIDS Alliance/Terrence Higgins Trust, Carol Goldstone Associates, Commission for the Compact, Community Sector Coalition, Home Office, Institute for Volunteering Research/Volunteering England, Institute of Jewish Policy Research, Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales, London Development Agency, London Voluntary Service Council, National Association of Crossroads Care Attendant Schemes, National Housing Federation, NCVO, Richmond CVS, Surrey County Council, 3VA and Welsh Government.

Colin has recently retired as academic adviser to the Institute for Volunteering Research at NCVO and chair of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network. He has also recently completed a term as practice article editor of the Voluntary Sector Review. He was a co-founder of the Voluntary Action History Society and is currently seminar convenor.

Colin has made important contributions to the knowledge base on the voluntary and community sector and volunteering. These include as editor (with George Campbell Gosling, Alison Penn and Meta Zimmeck) Understanding the Roots of Voluntary Action: Historical Perspectives on Current Social Policy (Sussex Academic Press, 2011); (with Margaret Harris) Voluntary Organisations and Social Policy: Perspectives on Change and Choice (Palgrave, 2001); and (with Justin Davis Smith and Rodney Hedley)  An Introduction to the Voluntary Sector (Routledge, 1995); as lead author (with Angela Ellis Paine and Steven Howlett) Volunteering and Society in the 21st Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 and 2012 [paperback]); and as author (with Meta Zimmeck) The Case for Statutory Compacts between Welsh Local Authorities and the Third Sector: Summary Report and Recommendations and the Third Sector: Annex A: Report on Preliminary Interviews (both Welsh Government, 2013); (with Meta Zimmeck and Bill Rushbrooke) Use it or lose it: A summative evaluation of the Compact (Commission for the Compact, 2011); and Making sense of volunteering: A literature review (Commission on the Future of Volunteering, 2007). He has has written numerous articles, chapters, monographs and reports. His new book, Rediscovering Voluntary Action: The Beat of a Different Drum (Palgrave Macmillan) was published in December 2013.

Colin’s experience is extensive and eclectic, theoretical and hands-on, but his aim has always been to support learning and the sharing of information about the broad voluntary and community sector and volunteering and, in particular, to concentrate on what works.


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