Notions of community, professionalism and volunteering in community-centred, public health approaches: a qualitative case study

  • Theodora Machaira

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Community-centred approaches are increasingly popular in public health practice. The use of volunteers as part of such approaches is common, as it recognises people as assets within communities; assets that can help improve community public health and wellbeing outcomes and aid community development.
Case study: Given the widely accepted importance of early years in providing children with the best possible start in life, and in recognition of the need for a shift to bottom-up approaches, a community volunteer programme was designed and implemented in a deprived ward of Stockton-on-Tees in the North East of England. Using this programme as a case study, this PhD thesis aimed to explore what volunteering is and how it works in a community-centred volunteer programme, through examining professionals’, volunteers’ and parents’ accounts.
Methods: Qualitative intrinsic case study methodology was used. Rich qualitative data were collected through forty-four interviews, five focus groups, observations and documents.
Findings: This study contributes to current understandings around community, professionalism and volunteering within community-centred approaches. A profound lack of a shared understanding of the term ‘community’ amongst different stakeholders was identified. It was also found that volunteering presents development opportunities for disadvantaged community members and particularly asylum seekers. Their strong reciprocal feelings and their willingness to volunteer as well as the plethora of human, social, cultural and political capital they can offer presents opportunities to widen the volunteer workforce. The findings also emphasised the detrimental effect tensions between professionals and volunteers can have on a community-centred approach.
Conclusions: This PhD has implications for theory and research. Equally, it has implications for public health practice through the development of a model which can be used as a tool to design community-centred approaches. This model, informed by literature, previous research and the findings from this thesis, can be valuable for commissioners, practitioners, professionals, volunteers and the wider community.
Date of Award30 Apr 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorLiane Azevedo (Supervisor), Raghu Lingam (Supervisor), Paul Crawshaw (Supervisor), Peter Van Der Graaf (Supervisor) & Liane Azevedo (Supervisor)

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