Monthly Archives: September 2014

Here be dragons: charity deserts and the cartography of voluntary activity

Medieval cartographers dealt with incomplete information by marking their maps with the phrase “here be dragons”. Mapping charitable activity sometimes seems like that.

The Centre for Social Justice report, Social Solutions: enabling grassroots charities to tackle poverty, again repeats their argument that “charity deserts” exist, based on indicators of the distribution of registered charities in relation to population, and backed up in part by forthcoming @3rdsectorRC research. It also calls for a mapping of the wider UK social sector. Having had a fair bit of involvement in such exercises, I thought I would comment on some of the obstacles which researchers face here.

I don’t disagree with the CSJ’s argument that resources could be better targeted and that it would be useful to have better information on which to make decisions. I’m just not sure that I would use the ratio of charities to population as an indicator on which to base such decisions. David Kane has already pointed to some of the challenges and I’d like to add a few more reflections. Continue reading Here be dragons: charity deserts and the cartography of voluntary activity

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