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  • Author or Editor: Jenny Phillimore x
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While immigration policy in the United Kingdom (UK) largely focuses on securing borders and restricting access to welfare, a separate strand has developed around promoting refugee integration. This article examines the way in which integration policy had been implemented. It explores academic and policy perspectives around what constitutes integration, and the development of integration policy. Interview and focus group data are employed to evaluate the effectiveness of UK integration initiatives. The article finds that successful initiatives adopt a pathways to integration approach that maximises the potential for the interlinkages between integration dimensions while facilitating a two-way integration process engaging refugees and wider society.

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Local activities and actions

In the past decade community groups have been portrayed as the solution to many social problems. Yet the role of ‘below the regulatory radar’ community action has received little research attention and thus is poorly understood in terms of both policy and practice.

Focusing on self-organised community activity, this book offers the first collection of papers developing theoretical and empirically grounded knowledge of the informal, unregistered, yet largest, part of the voluntary sector. The collection includes work from leading academics, activists, policy makers and practitioners offering a new and coherent understanding of community action ‘below the radar’.

The book is part of the Third Sector Research Series which is informed by research undertaken at the Third Sector Research Centre, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Barrow Cadbury Trust.

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From theory to method

This book bridges a major gap in knowledge by considering, through a range of reflexive chapters from different disciplinary backgrounds, both theoretical and practical issues relating to community research methodologies.

The international contributors consider a number of key epistemological, ontological and methodological questions. They explore what community peer research means in a range of settings, for a range of people, for the quality of data and subsequent findings, and for the production of rigorous social research. The collection will also stimulate thinking about how methodological advancement can be made in the field. It is the first book of its kind to combine practical and methodological reflections with clearly presented recommendations about how the approach can be used.

Presenting the latest thinking in the field and providing summaries, case studies and review questions, ‘Community research for participation’ will be invaluable to students, researchers, academics and practitioners who aim to place community members at the centre of their research.

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Interest in the formal voluntary sector and wider civil society organisations (CSOs) has grown in recent years and now CSOs are viewed as key to delivering government policy agendas of social action, open public services and localism. This article uses data from 29 interviews with community activists, policy makers and voluntary sector experts to explore the role, function and workings of small-scale civil society organisations (SCSOs). It finds that small-scale activity often emerges as an emotional response to local need, shared interest or the desire for social interaction rather than in response to policy initiatives. SCSOs call on a wide range of resources garnered within their community of geography or of interest. They thrive in unregulated environments providing flexible and holistic services for people in need. The article argues that the co-option of such activities into the delivery of political agendas is unlikely to achieve policy goals.

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Whilst there is a growing body of literature on formal voluntary organisations, relatively little research has been undertaken into the roles and functioning of small, informal, below the radar community groups and actions. ‘Community groups in context: Local activities and actions’ brings together a decade of research with informal community groups and small scale civil society organisations. It explores the wealth and diversity of their forms and activities, their fragility, strategies for survival and their position in relation to a range of public policy objectives. In particular the book examines under-researched aspects of small scale community action: from voluntary arts through to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups through to how people learn through to how activists learn, the emotional investment in community action and the voice of below the radar groups in local and national policy contexts.

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There is a growing interest in social networks and the potential that exploring them brings to understanding development and change in communities. Equally, there has been, until recently, a substantial investment in community capacity building; developing the skills and knowledge of community activists to ‘grow’ their organisations and ‘scale up’ to take on public and other services. Yet, little is known about how those active in small, below the radar, community groups gain the skills, knowledge and resources they need to meet their goals and objectives, whether political or service driven. This chapter questions the assumption which has underpinned ‘capacity building’ initiatives: that skills are best developed through formal training and education and highlights the importance of networks and informality as key aspects of peer learning for community action.

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Whilst there is a growing body of literature on formal voluntary organisations, relatively little research has been undertaken into the roles and functioning of small, informal, below the radar community groups and actions. ‘Community groups in context: Local activities and actions’ brings together a decade of research with informal community groups and small scale civil society organisations. It explores the wealth and diversity of their forms and activities, their fragility, strategies for survival and their position in relation to a range of public policy objectives. In particular the book examines under-researched aspects of small scale community action: from voluntary arts through to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups through to how people learn through to how activists learn, the emotional investment in community action and the voice of below the radar groups in local and national policy contexts.

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Below the radar’ has become a short-hand term for small community groups who are either not registered with the Charity Commission or other regulatory bodies and/or lack a regular, substantial annual income. Much of the existing research into the third sector has focused on formal, larger, organisations leaving gaps in the knowledge base around the nature and function of small groups and more informal activities which happen at a community level. This chapter critically examines the claims that small community groups are distinctive and differ from formal voluntary organisations in terms of the ways they work, their activities and goals.

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This chapter introduces the concept of ‘below the radar’ community groups. The term is defined as a means of understanding small scale, informal, civil society actions and how these relate to the more formal voluntary sector. It aims to identify the scale and scope of such groups in terms of their ways of operating, their activities and how they are located within the wider contexts of public policy and concepts of ‘community’.

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Whilst there is a growing body of literature on formal voluntary organisations, relatively little research has been undertaken into the roles and functioning of small, informal, below the radar community groups and actions. ‘Community groups in context: Local activities and actions’ brings together a decade of research with informal community groups and small scale civil society organisations. It explores the wealth and diversity of their forms and activities, their fragility, strategies for survival and their position in relation to a range of public policy objectives. In particular the book examines under-researched aspects of small scale community action: from voluntary arts through to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups through to how people learn through to how activists learn, the emotional investment in community action and the voice of below the radar groups in local and national policy contexts.

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