Mixed fortunes for VCSE sector – what are your experiences?

8 September, 2021


Already this summer we have reported how mixed the VCSE landscape is – be it volunteer numbers, staff shortages, increased expectations or finances – something our colleagues around the sector will be well aware of. Unfortunately, this topsy turvy outlook seems set to continue as we move into ‘business as usual’ after the summer break.

One example of this is the distribution of close to £1bn by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) over the last year, which follows a huge 43% increase in donations to the organisation during the pandemic. Donations to CAF were already up year on year pre-pandemic, but the jump during Covid mirrors how the UK’s population has shifted giving habits over the past 18 months.

More difficult for the sector has been the impact of staff and volunteer shortages over the summer. A survey of almost 150 charities found that six out of 10 organisations had been impacted by their staff and volunteers having to self-isolate, while at the same time two thirds of the charities surveyed have faced an increase in demand for their services.

What are your experiences?

Partly as a response to these sorts of mixed fortunes, Voscur is working with researchers from the University of Bristol to investigate how the city’s VCSE sector has adapted during the pandemic. The research is looking at a number of areas that have often been severely disrupted, and we would value your contribution as part of this.

The study topics that researchers are focusing on are homelessness; food insecurity; volunteering; digital insecurity; and use of open space, with research currently taking place that will influence how Bristol emerges from the pandemic.

Researchers are looking for:

  • Novel ways that organisations adapted – did you move your services outside for example, or did your staff find other ways to maintain contact with your service users?
  • Examples of how your organisation may have used technology to connect with service users – how effective was this, did things get easier as the pandemic went on?
  • How your organisation worked with volunteers – did you receive more or less offers of volunteering time, how did you use volunteers to reach your stakeholders?

If you can be part of this work – and at the same time help to influence how the VCSE sector in Bristol emerges post-pandemic – please contact Tom Burnett for further information (tom.burnett@voscur.org).

Voscur has continued to offer support across the sector over the past 18 months, take a look at our web pages for advice, templates, training opportunities and much more.