The national networks from across the voluntary sector have met to discuss COVID-19 and how the voluntary sector can contribute to supporting those most vulnerable at this time. Ben Lloyd, WCVA Head of Policy, reports from that meeting.
Across Wales, voluntary organisations have been mobilising rapidly to ensure that they can support their communities during this crisis. We have seen community-based support groups develop, as well as extraordinary levels of commitment from existing volunteers in communities and in health settings.
The meeting discussed proposals for how Welsh Government could best support people on low incomes throughout this difficult time.
However, although demand for charity services is escalating, some charities are facing increasingly difficult financial times – fundraising has dried up as events, such as marathons and other fundraising activity, have, rightly, been put on hold. This can put some voluntary organisations in a perilous position: 24% of charities with an income of less than £1m have no reserves.
We raised these issues with Welsh Government, who outlined the approach they are hoping to take in order to support the voluntary sector. Reassuringly, they talked not just about immediate stabilisation, but support for organisations who are seeing a surge in volunteering, and also for building up resilience in the future.
As we continue in this period of strain on our society and our public services, the voluntary sector will need to change how it operates to make sure it can play its part in helping people through. This will include changes to the way services are delivered, hopefully with the support of funders and regulators, to ensure that regulatory requirements can be more flexible at this time. We reiterated our concerns to Welsh Government.
As with the rest of the country, the voluntary sector is facing significant challenges. Whilst we are clear that with the right support we can ensure we are part of the solution, we are also clear that without the right support, many voluntary organisations may not recover after this crisis. The right support from governments, regulators and funders is necessary to keep the sector vibrant into the future.