Clinical Counselling in Voluntary and Community Settings

By Quentin Stimpson | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

The place of community and voluntary organisations in society at large

Christopher Robinson


Introduction

In this chapter I consider the role of community and voluntary organisations in society at large. I begin by defining what is a community or voluntary organisation. I then consider the historical perspective of such organisations-their relationship to the communities in which they develop as well as to the statutory sector or state-provided care services. I specifically consider here the growth of community-based counselling services and their value to society and local communities. I then discuss some of the particular qualities of community and voluntary organisations-their contribution to the development of services for local populations and their function in society at large in providing change and innovation. Finally, in balance to the qualities of such organisational activity, I look at some of the drawbacks and weaknesses of community and voluntary organisations, which may hinder their development and success.

I write this chapter from the perspective of someone who has worked in this sector for the majority of my working life and in doing so have come to value the particular atmosphere of innovation and hope that characterises community and voluntary organisation activity. At the same time I have a very practical awareness of the problems encountered by these organisations that weaken their potential contribution to society.


What is a community or voluntary organisation?

There are a number of ways of defining what a voluntary organisation is, or what differentiates it from other organisations. I shall consider a number of possible definitions below. (For the sake of ease and because my interest here is in smaller, community-based voluntary organisations,

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