Young man shovels earth in an allotment as part of an outdoor activity run by Platfform, a mental health and social change charity in Wales

Ten lessons on resilience from voluntary organisations

Published: 23/08/21 | Categories: Information & support, Author: Siân Eagar

Siân Eagar, WCVA’s new Resilience Officer, talks about what she learned about resilience from our gofod3 event.

gofod3, WCVA’s flagship event at the end of June gave us the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the voluntary sector across Wales, during what has been an immensely challenging time.

The strength, adaptability and resilience of the sector was on show at all the sessions I attended, with real life examples of how organisations have stepped up to support communities and continued to provide valuable services to beneficiaries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we now start to look forward and focus on recovery, there are lessons that we can all draw from this shared experience to maintain and build the resilience of the voluntary sector in Wales.

Here are my ten resilience takeaways from organisations I heard from throughout the week.

1. Having a clear understanding of your guiding vision and mission is key – key to providing the confidence needed to pivot activity strands and deliver services in a new way during times of change and uncertainty

2. Thinking creatively and embracing technology has enabled valuable services to continue – ranging from moving community focused activities online like at Maes Ni (Maesgeirchen) or adapting to home working to provide helpline services to individuals at Papyrus (Cardiff)

3. Safeguarding, mental health and wellbeing are ever present concerns, with new challenges arising due to the use of technology and remote working demanding a people focused approach, as developed at Platfform

4. Resilience should not just be associated with large charities – research by Lloyds Bank Foundation shows that small charities have the capacity to be ‘absorptive, adaptive and transformative’

5. The need to capture, understand and communicate the value or impact of the sector’s work is greater than ever – and there are tools and organisations out there to help with this task – as seen in the work being done by Inspiring Impact, Cranfield Trust and Mantell Gwynedd

6. Creating a culture of reflection and learning brings benefits across the organisation – to people, processes and services as demonstrated by the Inspiring Impact sessions during the week

7. Embracing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in a meaningful way increases impact – this takes time and commitment but, as seen at Samaritans Cymru, it will enable you to reach deeper and wider into your communities and build genuine engagement

8. To remain sustainable an organisation needs to stay relevant and engage with its members, volunteers and beneficiaries, and sometimes this demands a new approach – as Scouts Cymru demonstrated with their work to make their organisation ‘youth shaped’ with young people at the heart of what they do

9. One of the most pressing challenges for the sector will be that of funding – and the future of funding session explored how to navigate a competitive funding environment

10. The importance of leadership cannot be underestimated – last but not least, whether it be to steady the ship in times of crisis or bring about wider change – as discussed in the final Green and Just Recovery session emphasising the role the sector can play in creating a better future for the long term


This was my first experience of gofod3 as the new Resilience Officer at WCVA, and I was inspired by the all the good work being undertaken, and the depth and breadth of those activities.

Moving forward, there is no doubt that the voluntary sector across Wales will continue to play a vital role in the post-COVID recovery. The sector has already proven that it is resilient, but organisations will need support to adapt and make plans for the future, especially as we face more change and new challenges.

I look forward to being part of WCVA’s continued work to provide information, advice and training to support the resilience of the sector and ensure that voluntary organisations in Wales can continue to make a bigger difference together.


To help inform our work on resilience we would like to hear from you – please do contribute to our survey available here.