Woman holding a mug of tea

Grab a cuppa – and find out more about the voluntary sector!

Published: 01/11/22 | Categories: Influencing, Author: Amy Sanders

Dr Amy Sanders of Aberystwyth University & Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research & Data (WISERD) has been conducting research into the voluntary sector, looking at its structures and partnerships, relationships with Welsh Government, equalities work and more.

She’s presented some of her findings in a series of new videos, titled Mug of Research. Here, she provides some insight into what they’re all about.

What I want people to know about Mug of Research is that it is an easy to consume set of mini-films that should be useful, whether you’re a senior manager in the voluntary sector hoping to achieve change OR a government official working closely with the sector.

All too often researchers fail to grasp what might interest the sector or how to convey their research to have an impact on its practice. Given my background, I was determined to make sure that my research was accessible and useful for our incredible Welsh voluntary sector and those who support it. However, I wanted to minimise any demands on busy policy actors. My aim is to enable people to dip into aspects of research that interest them. Each Mug of Research is intended to be a consumable chunk of information that can be viewed during a coffee break, in the time it takes you to drink a cuppa in an ordinary working day.


  • If you’re a senior manager in the voluntary sector: then you can learn about successful ways to achieve policy influence (Day 1), or about different third sector network structures that exist (Day 2).
  • If you’re a Welsh Government official: then understand the significance of the Welsh Government/Third Sector Relationship (Day 1), consider what changes could enable the relationship to progress (Day 6), or learn about what you can do to improve agenda-setting processes (Days 3,4,6).
  • If you care about equality policy: then check out what can threaten equalities representation (Day 3), how to overcome hurdles in applying intersectionality in policymaking (Day 4), how to achieve equality of opportunity in a structural sense (Day 5), or how Wales can continue to drive forward equalities policymaking (Day 7).

Practical things to know about watching these videos: (a) There are seven videos plus a short introductory clip, and each has a clearly-stated theme and recommendations. Each video is released on consecutive working days. (b) They have a home-produced quality since the filming took place in my free time during lockdown. (c) I would recommend headphones for people working in a shared office. (d) There is an accompanying policy briefing on request. (e) A few processes have changed since I conducted this research*.

Aims of Mug of Research: The idea was born out of the pandemic, when I recognised people’s workload had tripled. Consequently, these heroes at the voluntary frontline deserved a breather and a chance to invest in themselves. Additionally, these videos are a way to say thank you to WCVA**, Welsh Government and the equalities organisations who contributed to this research. I was also eager to ensure this research benefits the wider third sector and Welsh communities. These were my aims, but you should decide if I’ve succeeded. Here is what others have said:

‘A massive well done to you on this research and the way you have packaged it up,’ said one senior voluntary sector manager. ‘Such a refreshing change. I love the way you have used your learning from the research to inform how best to present it as a usable, bitesize piece of learning for busy people in the sector.’

Feedback from a senior Welsh Government official included: ‘I am especially grateful for the thought you put into providing these in a format which did not place too much additional burden on the recipients and aims to give us a break from other things.’


Here is the link to the three and a half minute Intro to Mug of Research To access the rest, search for @AmySandersA1 or @WCVACymru on twitter or contact Dr Amy Sanders in Aberystwyth University. A new Mug of Research video will appear on Twitter each weekday from 1 November to 10 November.

* E.g., Elections to the role of TSPC representative are now every five years, there is now normally just one planning meeting per formal ministerial meeting, and WCVA now use task and finish sub-groups instead of one TSPC working group to address specific issues.

**WCVA has not been involved in production of these videos and the findings of the research have been arrived at independently by Dr Sanders entirely independently of WCVA.