Colin Rochester

Colin’s special interests are:

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

Colin has been involved in the practice and study of voluntary action since 1968 and remains heavily involved in research on volunteering, the management of voluntary organisations and the relationship between the voluntary sector and the state.

He began his career as a practitioner and worked for the Workers’ Educational Association as its National Development Officer and was Head of Cambridge House Settlement before becoming a researcher and postgraduate teacher in voluntary sector studies at the LSE’s Centre for Voluntary Organisation; at Roehampton University where he directed the Centre for the Study of Voluntary and Community Activity; and at Birkbeck, University of London. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent.

He has been involved in a number of scholarly activities including co-founding and chairing the Voluntary Action History Society (VAHS); helping to establish the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN), serving as its chair and acting as the first practice papers editor for its journal Voluntary Sector Review; serving as a former chair and current trustee of the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC); and acting as a director of the Coalition for Independent Action. He was also Academic Adviser to the Institute for Volunteering Research.

Colin has conducted research and consultancy projects for a wide range of national and local organisations including: the Commission for the Compact; Commission on the Future of Volunteering; Community Sector Coalition; Home Office; Institute of Jewish Policy Research; Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales; London Development Agency; London Voluntary Service Council; NCVO; National Housing Federation; Surrey County Council; Volunteer Now!; Welsh Government; and Volunteering England.

He has made important contributions to the knowledge base on the voluntary and community sector and volunteering. As well as numerous articles, chapters, monographs and handbooks he has published six books. He has co-edited An Introduction to the Voluntary Sector (Routledge, 1995); Voluntary Organisations and Social Policy (Palgrave, 2001); The Roots of Voluntary Action (Sussex Academic Press, 2011); and A Handbook on Hybrid Organisations (Edward Elgar, 2020). He was the lead author of Volunteering and Society in the 21st Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) and the sole author of the ground-breaking Rethinking Voluntary Action: the beat of a different drum (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

The focus of his current research and writing is on the activities of unmanaged volunteers involved in non-bureaucratic organisational settings. He is involved (with Meta Zimmeck) in a ground-breaking quantitative study of voluntary action in the making PPE for health and social care in England during the coronavirus crisis.


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