Empowering communities
Empowering communities

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Empowering communities

2 Third Sector involvement

Described image
Figure 4 Supporting communities

On a very simple level, society can be seen to be made up of three main sectors: public, private and voluntary. While this breakdown might seem simplistic, it can help provide an initial starting point when thinking about the role that each plays.

  1. The term ‘public sector’ typically refers to organisations linked to the government and state that provide many of the core public services needed by society. These include such basic public services such as health, education, roads, and policing, and which are funded through general taxation.
  2. The ‘private sector’ refers to businesses, companies and other commercial organisations which provide goods and services in the economy and aim to make a profit.
  3. The ‘voluntary sector’ or third sector is neither government controlled nor is it focused on profit. Rather, it occupies a space between the public and private sectors and seeks to meet the unmet needs of society. These needs might be unmet because of a lack of potential profit (so discouraging interest from the private sector) or perhaps because the public sector has not had the resources to address them or has otherwise neglected to address them.

The UK Government has defined third sector as: ‘non-governmental organisations that are value driven and which principally reinvest their surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. It includes voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals. We also include housing associations within the third sector.’ (Department of Communities and Local Government, no date.)

Broadly speaking, organisations classed as being part of the third sector might include:

  • charities
  • community organisations including sporting bodies
  • non-governmental bodies
  • non-profit and not-for-profit organisations
  • voluntary action groups
  • churches and religious groups.

While the above definitions might seem to suggest a clear distinction between the public, private and third/voluntary sectors, the reality is – and always has been – quite different. In practice this can mean that organisations within each sector often operate beyond what might be regarded as their own sector’s boundaries.

Just as importantly, the development of effective solutions to community issues to requires collaboration between each of these sectors. No one sector or organisation can do it by themselves – rather resources, expertise and perspectives must be shared for the best result to be achieved for all community stakeholders.

PWC_4

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371