The cost of living crisis in Bristol - Voscur's response

4 July, 2022


Voscur statement submitted for Bristol City Council's Full Council meeting, 5th July, 2022

Voscur is the support and development agency for Bristol’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector (VCSE). Bristol’s VCSE sector, working with other city partners, provides support to many diverse people and communities, particularly those that experience the greatest inequality. Such support was crucial to the city’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the sector playing its part in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on already disadvantaged communities.

Since then, the VCSE sector continues to provide support and enable people and communities to navigate through the post-pandemic period. We note, however, that some communities are still adversely affected by the pandemic and its aftermath. On top of a compelling and challenging two years, community organisations, and the people and communities they serve, are additionally susceptible to the current cost of living crisis.

Community organisations have, during the pandemic, experienced major challenges, with their finances, workforce and increasingly complex demands on their services. Organisations were forced to dip into their reserves, which affects their mid- and long-term sustainability. They experience staff and volunteer burn-out, which affects their ability to operate and respond to complex changes. They experience challenges with recruiting and retaining volunteers, which affects governance and service delivery.

The cost of living crisis is having a complex impact on Bristol’s VCSE organisations. This crisis is on top of the pandemic, compounding existing challenges and Voscur is concerned about organisations’ resilience, sustainability and capacity to serve the community in the years ahead.

Voscur welcomes the One City approach to our city’s joined up response to the cost of living crisis. We welcome the Cost of Living Co-ordination Group and current discussions about a new appeal. We are working with Bristol City Council, Quartet Community Foundation and City Funds, to appeal to those Bristol households that may wish to donate some of the £400 relief grant due in October.

As with Bristol residents' fantastic efforts in neighbourhoods during the pandemic, we believe people want to support others now; part of this, we hope, may be the donation of the relief grant to support others. We aim to create an appeal in the run-up to October so that funds donated will be used to support Bristol VCSE organisations experiencing financial difficulties so that they can continue to provide fundamental services and support to people and communities that are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis.

Mark Hubbard
Chief Executive Officer (interim)