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#NeverMoreNeeded: Somerset Voluntary and Community Sector rises to challenge during pandemic
19th Jun 2020

During national Small Charities Week, a new report highlights the vital community support provided by the local voluntary sector in Somerset.

The Somerset VCSE State of the Sector report for 2020 is the second report of this nature commissioned through the Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum and builds on the work of the 2016 State of the Sector report.

In March, we sent the survey to charities, community groups and social enterprises across the County. The findings have informed this second in-depth review of the state of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Somerset.

What was not anticipated at the time of this project being undertaken was the impact of COVID-19 on communities globally. This has brought new challenges to the sector as well as opportunities, and two smaller follow-up surveys were conducted mid-March 2020 and April-June 2020 to help better understand the impact locally. The results of all three studies have been included in this latest report, produced by Spark Somerset.

Some key findings:

  • There are 2760 registered charities in Somerset and 100s more informal community groups
  • 87% of the ‘workforce’ are volunteers
  • Key challenges organisations currently facing include loss of funding/income; loss of face-to-face/group working; adapting to digital working; retaining and training workforce; shielding customers/clients, future uncertainty and developing new services for COVID-19 circumstances
  • Of the groups that responded, 10,334 volunteers contribute 19,463 work hours in an average week.

Katherine Nolan, CEO of Spark Somerset said:

“As before, our sector continues to provide valuable services, activities and volunteering opportunities across the county and is characterised by the optimism, enthusiasm and dedication of its workforce. But it is also under pressure - balancing reducing resources with growing needs for their services - and now in more challenging circumstances than ever.
“We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the whole sector at this time – organisations large and small, registered charities and informal groups. The fantastic support that these organisations provide has never been needed more.”

You can download the full report here.