This summer, Welsh Government ran its Our Futures Wales consultation to find out people’s thoughts about the best approach to recovery from COVID-19. WCVA Head of Policy, Ben Lloyd, looks at how we engaged with the sector about this and highlights the key points in our response.
Over the last few months, WCVA has been listening to voluntary sector organisations about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them. These discussions have taken place through our usual work with our members, across voluntary sector networks such as the Third Sector Partnership Council and Third Sector Support Wales, and talking to those charities who are applying to our emergency funds. We’ve also held ‘Preparing for different futures’ sessions with the voluntary sector, which, in discussing community responses, wellbeing economies and much more, gives a sense of the challenges the voluntary sector is facing as a result of the pandemic.
The voluntary sector has played a key role in supporting people throughout the pandemic and the initial lockdown. It will also play a key role not just in any further lockdowns, but in supporting Wales’ recovery from the pandemic and the recession.
All this material fed into our response to Welsh Government’s Our Future Wales consultation. In it, we outline three areas where the voluntary sector can support this recovery.
Firstly, ensuring a green and just recovery. The voluntary sector can play a role in supporting economic renewal and supporting the health service. For example, we consider how youth volunteering might operate during a period of high youth unemployment, or how volunteering can support prevention of ill-health, thus easing pressures on the health service.
Secondly, empowering communities and volunteers. Throughout the crisis, communities and volunteers have demonstrated their ability to support friends, neighbours and strangers. We look at how to sustain this approach going forward, including supporting some communities in areas of high deprivation.
Thirdly, supporting a resilient voluntary sector. The past six months have been extremely challenging for charities and demand has increased, services have been forced to change, and funding has fallen. This sector examines how best to support the sector, with a specific emphasis on digital services.
The recovery is going to lead to a different Wales from the one that existed before, and that difference may not be a positive one. Whatever happens, the voluntary sector will be there to support people and communities throughout the recovery.