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Britain's voluntary and community organisations (sometimes referred to as the "third sector") are far more numerous and integral to the operation of society than people often imagine.

The sector involves hundreds of thousands of people and has an essential role in delivering many services that the public and private sectors are unable to provide.

Richard Caulfield is the Chief Executive of Voluntary Sector North West - a key strategic player in seeing that voluntary sector organisations are supported and recognised in a region of 6.8 million people.

We met recently in Manchester and Richard explained about the background of his organisation, the roles that voluntary organisations perform and the challenges and opportunities for the entire sector.

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