What effects have recession and austerity had on engagement in communities? And what implications does the evidence have for the capacity of communities to cope with both with short-term challenges and, in the longer term, about the likely permanent shrinkage of the state? A recent report by the Institute for Volunteering Research looks at the question of “volunteering during the downturn”. They argue that volunteering rates (proportion of the population engaged) have been fairly stable in recent years but the headline figures from the Citizenship Survey and Community Life Survey which they quote hide a more complex, and arguably more challenging, story. Continue reading Austerity and engagement: what happens to voluntary action in hard times?