Nick Ockenden is the Director of the Institute for Volunteering Research, a research and consultancy agency specialising in volunteering (www.ivr.org.uk). The role of the Institute is to deliver evaluations and impact assessments, advise government, and help organisations improve the way in which they involve volunteers. Nick has worked there for just over seven years.
In this interview Nick talks about the SRA, his role on the board of trustees and his ideas for the future.
What was your first experience of the SRA - how have you been involved?
I’ve known about the SRA ever since I started working in research and have been a member for years. I’ve found the events and training courses really valuable, particularly at the start of my career.
When and why did you join the board?
I joined the board in the summer of 2010. I really like the work of the SRA and had been thinking about becoming a trustee for a while, so it was an easy decision for me to get involved.
What is your role on the board?
As well as the general duties of a trustee, I have a few specific roles on the board. I’m the main board link to the voluntary and community sector, so it’s my responsibility to ensure we develop in a way that’s relevant to those working in that area. I’ve been leading our work on communications, which has included working with Graham Farrant, our office manager, and Ian Henghes, an independent web developer, to help redevelop our website.
What do you enjoy (or otherwise) about being on the board?
I love being part of an organisation which is actively improving social research practice and is supporting those working in the field. Because we’re a small organisation we can be very flexible and responsive to the challenges and opportunities facing the profession, and I think we make a real difference. I also really enjoy working with the other members of the board – everyone’s completely committed to social research and they bring such a variety of experiences and skills that I’m constantly learning from them.
Where would you like to see the SRA being/achieving in one year/ five years’ time?
While the past couple of years have been a bit bumpy for the SRA – and anyone working in social research – we’re now in a real position of strength. In the future, I’d like us to continue to expand our engagement with social researchers across the UK. In the longer term, I’d like us to publish a journal of applied social research, to give social researchers the opportunity to publish practical articles on issues and challenges they’re facing. We’re currently exploring options and are looking for top 10 online casino volunteers who would like to be involved, so please do get in touch if you’re interested.
In the light of this, what do you see as the key priorities for the SRA?
We need to make sure we continue to represent the views and needs of those working in social research, and a key part of this is reaching out to and engaging with as many social research colleagues as possible. There’s also a huge amount of research being done in the voluntary and community sector, and I think there’s a great opportunity for us to link that in further to the work of the SRA.