Community First News & Updates

Exploring the impact of Covid 19 on Wiltshire’s Voluntary and Community Sector Part II

by | Feb 23, 2021 | News

VCS report logo strap

Charities and not for profit groups from across Wiltshire were invited to complete a second impact survey during December to learn about the continued impact and ongoing restriction of the Covid 19 pandemic on the sector’s beneficiaries, volunteers, staff and finances and build on the previous local and national survey findings.

The full report provides valuable evidence of the emerging needs of the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCSE) in Wiltshire alongside key findings from national surveys and research. The findings will be useful in discussion with stakeholder groups and those that advocate on behalf of the voluntary and community sector, informing and influencing policy, service delivery and funding to ensure the sector has the support it needs now and in the future. It may also prove to be useful to local VCSE organisations to inform their own service development and grant applications.

Key Headline Results

  • More organisations are delivering services and support than in May 2020 (75% compared to 33%), but many (73%) at a reduced level of delivery compared to pre-covid levels.
  • The take-up of technology and switch to delivering services “virtually” has been one of the most significant developments resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, enabling organisations to engage and in some instances extend their reach. However, some organisations have been unable to connect with some or all of their service users (11% – 16%).
  • 24% of organisations have seen an increase in demand for their services.
  • Groups are seeing more people with anxiety needs (51%), who are older (41%) and isolated (39%), those that are excluded digitally (25%) or are in some other way marginalised (20%) or in financial crisis (21%) and 53% reported an increase in demand for befriending, mental health and wellbeing services and 26% for essential food supplies.
  • To manage changing demands, groups are calling for more funding (44%), more volunteers (44%) and help with finding new ways of working (29%).
  • However, 36% of groups have seen a reduction in volunteer numbers and 62% have seen a reduction in their income levels, with 2% reporting they are at risk of imminent closure.
  • The reduction in income has mainly been attributed to cancelled fundraising events (56%), loss of trading income (47%) and a reduction in donations from individuals (26%).

In comparison to the May 2020 survey findings, there is a largely consistent picture with organisations reporting broadly similar impacts on service delivery and income. Fewer organisations have staff still on furlough, but service delivery remains below its pre-covid levels, demand for services is growing and volunteer numbers and income have declined. This raises concern for the future sustainability of the sector and support is needed particularly around funding, recruiting and managing volunteers and adapting to new ways of service delivery if the sector is to meet growing demand and survive and thrive in the future.

However, a sense of optimism prevails. Groups are looking forward to being able to return to face-to-face support, but not to lose the benefits and advantages that technology has enabled. Groups also feel positive about the recognition and value volunteers have received as a result of the pandemic.

You can download the full report below:

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