Being there when we’re needed, not just when it’s convenient

Published: 24/03/20 | Categories: Author: Ruth Marks

Ruth Marks, WCVA’s Chief Executive, outlines our role and the current focus of our work to support voluntary organisations during this difficult time.

Our role

WCVA is here to enable voluntary organisations in Wales to make a bigger difference together. Right now, our absolute priority is the health and safety of people and communities across Wales.

We are all facing an unprecedented and uncertain situation. We’ve seen an outpouring of people who want to give support to each other voluntarily in communities right across the country. But voluntary organisations are also facing huge difficulties. That includes income streams collapsing, whilst demand for services rockets.

We need to work together, across the voluntary sector but also with government and businesses, to support people, communities and each other through the crisis. WCVA will be doing everything we can to help that happen in the coming weeks and months.

Information and support

WCVA has set up a webpage to provide the latest information relevant to the sector. We’re also providing a daily bulletin to highlight the latest information. We know organisations have a huge number of questions on what this means for them on areas such as governance, looking after staff and their financial sustainability.

Volunteering is changing overnight and people want to know how they can make sure that people can contribute in the most effective ways, and in ways that keep everybody safe. Guidance coming soon. Volunteering Wales is helping connect people with organisations who need them.

WCVA provides direct support to hundreds of organisations through our grants and loans. We have set up emergency fast track loans for organisations to support voluntary organisations through the effects of coronavirus and recent flooding. We are working closely with our funders to continue to distribute our ongoing grants and loans programmes. Where possiblewe are working to re-direct existing funds and unlock new funds to support organisations and communities during this crisis.

Connecting

WCVA has been bringing different organisations together to understand the issues that they face and give spaces where organisations can work together. We’ve been speaking regularly to the network of CVCs working locally across Wales. We’re also liaising with the national networks across the Third Sector Partnership Council and national organisations specialising in health and social care and in emergency responses. We’re also liaising with our partners in infrastructure bodies across the UK to coordinate efforts. We want to do more to help organisations to share and co-ordinate and we’re working on this now.

We’re also in contact with the Secretary of State for Wales and Welsh Government Ministers, andwe’re working with WLGA and Once Voice Wales to support local collaboration.

Influencing

For our sector to be able to support people and communities through the crisis as best we can, government – at UK, Wales and local levels – and our regulators will need to take action. WCVA needs to be a strong voice for the sector.

We’re listening to a wide range of organisations. Key messages we’re pushing currently are on:

  • the financial resilience of the sector – providing immediate stability, enabling organisations to mobilise and ensuring ability to recover in the medium and longer term
  • organisational capacity – particularly around staff and volunteer issues, including self-isolation, childcare and key worker status
  • regulatory burden from Welsh Government, local government and funders – including flexibility on redirecting resource

Tell us what you need

The information I’ve laid out here gives an overview of our role in supporting voluntary organisations through this crisis. Our work must always be based on your needs, so if you work in the sector and you have specific concerns or needs please get in touch by emailing help@wcva.cymru.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers and we won’t be able to help with every problem, but working with you we will always go the extra mile to make a bigger difference together.