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Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain

Project DirectorDr Georgina Brewis (UCL Institute of Education) with Professor Irene Hardill (Northumbria University) and Nick Ockenden (NCVO)


This collaborative, interdisciplinary project will digitise and make available key documents that will enhance understanding of the role of voluntary organisations in our mixed economy of welfare. Restructuring of welfare provision in the 1940s led to intense debate about the future of the voluntary social services. By identifying and digitising core documents arising out of this debate, the project will create a unique public resource of benefit to social science, practitioner and policy maker audiences that will facilitate critical reflection on major post-war social policy changes. If such change were happening today these documents would be readily available on the web. 

The project arises from recognition that scholarly investigation of the roots of the mixed economy of welfare is hampered by lack of sources. While key public documents have been digitised, the papers of voluntary groups are less well preserved and in a period of austerity, the records of voluntary organisations have become increasingly vulnerable. Lacking the long-term legal protection afforded to papers produced by government, records remain low priority in many organisations and are subject to the vagaries of waxing and waning interest, office relocation and fluctuations of income. The project includes the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) as a key partner and builds on the work of the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives founded in 2012.