The role of mutual aid in meeting society’s needs: the example of community sports clubs’ responses to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions

Geoff Nichols, Fiona Reid, Lindsay Findlay-King*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper considers the role and limitations of mutual aid associations in meeting society’s needs. It does this by examining responses of community sports clubs (CSCs) in the U.K. to COVID-19 restrictions. We firstly make the case that CSCs typify mutual aid associations. Using two qualitative research studies we show how the clubs’ responses focussed on meeting the needs of their own members, expressing bonding rather than bridging social capital. Clubs’ resilience was facilitated by the commitment of key volunteers, understood as serious leisure, and the complete overlap of governance and delivery in club management. These insights allow us to discuss the potential and limitations of this particular type of mutual aid association in meeting society’s needs and qualify general assertions that the voluntary sector would respond to the Covid-crisis by developing social capital. It reinforces the need for a typology of the voluntary sector to inform understanding and research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Nov 2023

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