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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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Week 2: Values and beliefs


On a day-to-day basis, you are undoubtedly affected by the values of other people. You probably find that there are both differences and similarities among your values and those of your friends, colleagues and your organisation (if you work or volunteer).

Last week you explored the nature and history of the voluntary sector and how it differs from the public and private sectors. You were also introduced to the idea that the voluntary sector is considered to have ‘distinctive’ value. One aspect of this was that voluntary organisations, although diverse in terms of size and purpose, are perceived to hold distinctive sets of values, as do the people who work and volunteer in them. Understanding what these seemingly abstract values might be, is the focus of this week.

In the following video Julie Charlesworth introduces Week 2.

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This week you will explore values and beliefs and their importance to voluntary and community organisations, as well as how personal values might underpin your work or volunteering, and the ways in which you relate to others. The concept of values may seem rather abstract or hard to pin down. In order to understand them better, you will get some experience in thinking what your own values might be.

This week will also demonstrate that values exert a strong influence on people’s behaviour and motivation, particularly in choosing to work in the voluntary sector. Values are considered to be at the heart of this sector and guide what voluntary organisations do; for example, protecting vulnerable people in society, helping people deal with poverty and inequalities, or campaigning to save wildlife or to protect the environment. Other organisations may be set up as an expression of religious, humanitarian or political beliefs.

Furthermore, this week introduces the role played by organisational values in people’s work or volunteering. This week also looks at how differences in values can, on occasion, lead to conflict.

By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • explain what is meant by values
  • understand the different levels at which values are perceived to operate
  • reflect on the importance of values in how you relate to others
  • explain how value conflicts arise.