Support and funding needed to help Voluntary and Community Sector organisations overcome fallout from Covid-19

28 Sep 2020 Déarbhla Sloan    Last updated: 28 Sep 2020

The urgent need for training and investment in the voluntary and community sector has been highlighted by a recent survey carried out by the NICVA. 

Over 60% of community and voluntary organisations stated that they expected their capacity to deliver services to reduce in the next year, with over a quarter saying they expected a reduction in capacity of between 25-75%. Upskilling and capacity building, including risk management, supporting staff mental health and training in online communications, are the major areas of focus for the voluntary and community sector following the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The immediate lockdown and social distancing measures implemented in the early part of the year resulted in the sector having to change and adapt to a new way of working for their service users, such as providing online training courses and holding virtual events, which in turn requires the right investment and training. Despite facing funding deficits and a significant impact on their provision of services, the NICVA survey notes that much of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland are looking to the future and preparing for the changes that will come in a post-Covid-19 world. The top three needs identified through the survey were “safe working in the office and outside”, “digital skills” and “risk management”. Organisations operating in the sector will require a change to strategies, further funding and skills development in various areas to help ensure their end-users and clients have the necessary support they require.

Longer term funding arrangements, particularly with government funding, is another key element highlighted by the groups as opposed to the annual funding contracts that many organisations are used to. Shorter funding cycles tend to attribute more pressure to groups as well as shorten the length of time they can effectively plan and prepare for. These shorter funding periods add further pressure to organisations already feeling the strain and fallout from the covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown and social distancing measures implemented.

The voluntary and community sector has been dealing with a difficult six months but are demonstrating resilience with their ability to prepare and adapt for the post-covid-19 environment. Continuing their ongoing support of the sector, NICVA are developing virtual events and training sessions as a response to the needs highlighted by the survey. Further information on the Covid-19 Impact Survey carried out by NICVA as well as information on training, policy and funding opportunities can be found on our website.

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