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Exploring volunteering in a food bank and psychological wellbeing

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In the context of UK austerity policies, asset-based approaches to health offer an attractive proposition to policy makers, promising to reduce demand while improving psychological wellbeing. However, critics suggest that they may inadvertently contribute to increasing health inequalities by implicitly endorsing neoliberal discourses, extolling independence and ascribing individual blame for poverty, while denigrating state welfare support. Food banks, as voluntary sector welfare providers, as places of ambiguous and contested meanings, present a salient setting in which to explore how experiences of volunteering may affect psychological wellbeing. This article provides deep insight into the experiences of four women with direct experience of the welfare system, highlighting the value of social justice-oriented narratives, as well as shared purpose and social connection, in relation to their psychological wellbeing. It highlights the significance of the ethos of such settings, with implications for public health policy, voluntary organisations and those resisting neoliberal policies and discourses.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March, 2019

This article was made available online on March 29, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Exploring volunteering in a food bank and psychological wellbeing".

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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