The voluntary sector has been identified as vital in securing greater community involvement in health and well-being, and improving public services in this field. This chapter explores key policy developments affecting the voluntary sector and the implications for partnership working in health and well-being. It begins with a discussion of the nature of the voluntary sector in general, including a brief historical context, key concepts and definitions, and indicators of its size and scope. This is followed by an analysis of the policies adopted by previous and current governments towards the sector. The next section considers in more detail the role of voluntary organizations in health. Again the main focus is upon England, although important similarities and differences with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are discussed (see Box 6.1).
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