Ruth Marks, Chief Executive Officer for WCVA shares her voluntary sector resolutions for the year ahead.
2020 was a very different year, and with celebrations put on pause, it isn’t surprising that the start of a New Year feels very different as well.
The global pandemic continues – with good news about vaccines countered with the alarming spread of the virus and associated advice and regulations.
For the voluntary sector, the pandemic continues to bring increased demand, and this, coupled with the UK’s departure from the EU, means that uncertainty also continues to increase.
During 2020 there was a huge focus on the sector – from calls out for volunteers to recognition of the many services provided by national charities as well as the role of local grassroots organisations working tirelessly in communities across Wales being regularly highlighted.
Nationally and locally aspects of bureaucracy were rolled back, and this ensured that much needed support was able to get to groups working on the front line. Voluntary sector organisations that receive public funds are well used to regular monitoring and reporting and indeed campaign for scrutiny and transparency.
The sector learnt a great deal last year and we need to hold onto everything that we have learnt, whilst maintaining the appropriate level of rigour applied to grants and contracts.
So in the spirit of learning and building on from 2020, here is my list of WCVA work-related resolutions for 2021:
RATION SCREEN TIME
We’ve all been spending a bit too much time on our various screens over the past year – be it Zoom meetings, social media, or ‘doomscrolling’ through the latest news, I think this year we might benefit from some more routine around our online activity.
PROMOTE YOUTH SOCIAL ACTION
2020 was an incredibly turbulent year for young people. The virus continues to cause issues around education and socialising, impacting heavily on their mental wellbeing. We actively promoted youth volunteering and the power of youth in Wales – and 2021 will be no different.
HIGHLIGHT THE WORK OF LOCAL GROUPS MEETING LOCAL NEEDS
We saw some incredible communities coming together to make a bigger difference throughout the pandemic. Voluntary organisations like Clwb Rygbi Nant Conwy and Centre for African Entrepreneurship altered their services and became hubs for their local communities. We’ll be drawing attention to the brilliant work of more local groups (and Wales’ voluntary organisations) over the coming year.
SHARE WELSH VOLUNTARY SECTOR EXPERIENCE AT COP26
The global climate emergency grows more serious by the day. We’re proud to be partnered with Cynnal Cymru, who are working to change attitudes to sustainability at a corporate level. Our Local Nature Partnership project is building a nature recovery network across Wales. And when Glasgow hosts 2021’s UN COP26 Summit, we’ll be promoting messages on the incredible work being done in Wales’ voluntary sector to raise awareness and mitigate the effects of climate change – so let us know what you’re up to.
MAINTAIN CONNECTIONS WITH EUROPEAN PARTNERS
In February 2020 (feels like a decade ago) we took a trip over to Brussels to connect and engage with a variety of European voluntary organisations. In 2021 we’ll be strengthening those bonds – for although we may be leaving the institutions of Europe, we are still very much a part of Europe.
INVITE NEW CHARITY CHIEF EXECUTIVES TO MEET AND CHAT
Anyone who knows me knows I’m always up for a natter – if you’re a new charity Chief Exec looking for a friendly face or a sympathetic ear, please get in touch for a ‘paned’ and a chinwag!
INCREASE SECONDMENT SWAPS AND PLACEMENTS
We’re delighted to be welcoming back our Assistant Director Judith Stone from her secondment as Chief Executive of Kidney Wales this year. Secondments and placements are a wonderful opportunity for personal development and to share skills between organisations in the voluntary sector – looking forward to more of these in the new year.
SUPPORT THE WORK OF OUR EDI (EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION) GROUP
Last year brought society’s inequalities into full view, with many communities suffering disproportionately from the effects of the pandemic. WCVA is committed to combatting inequality anywhere we see it – and we need to start at home. We’ve formed an internal EDI group to help us identify our flaws and how to fix them. Externally, we’ll continue to support BAME groups in Wales to access funding and advice to help them thrive.
COLLABORATE WITH STAFF ON IDEAS FOR FUN THINGS TO CONNECT US
It’s been a huge change for staff across the voluntary sector, making the switch to online home working, many with childcare issues or complex living arrangements amplified by the pandemic. I think we’ve done a good job of keeping our staff positive and connected to one another – various weekly clubs, online quizzes, and even a wonderful online performance from Welsh drag icon Dr Bev. This year we’ll be collaborating further with staff to work out how we can support them even more effectively.
ENCOURAGE THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR TO WORK TOGETHER
If we’ve learnt anything from volunteers and community organisations in 2020, it’s that we really can make a much bigger difference together. After extensive consultation with our members and the wider voluntary sector, in 2021 we’ll be enhancing our membership offer so we can partner even more effectively and help build a better Wales for future generations.