The impact of Covid-19 on Voluntary Organisations in Surrey

The impact of Covid-19 on Voluntary Organisations in Surrey

The results of the survey carried out by Surrey Community Action in May 2020 have been published.  Over 250 organisations took part in the research, answering questions on the impact of Covid-19 on their work and finances.  The information will be used to inform and guide statutory partners, funders and other stakeholders to work effectively with the voluntary sector over the next 12 to 18 months.The Executive Summary is below and the full report is available to download here

Executive Summary

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant detrimental impact on Surrey’s voluntary, community and faith sector (VCFS), but has also revealed some positive developments that can be carried forwards once the pandemic has passed.

Most Surrey VCFS organisations are confident that they can endure the crisis, but one in ten are not, and one in twenty expect to close. 90% of organisations expect a loss of income due to the short-term crisis, with sustained pressures from a resulting recession. Many hold reserves, but may not be able to rely on them in the medium term. Most charities rely on public fundraising such as events which have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Charities are concerned that fundraising for NHS charities is taking income from other work and while support from Government and other sources is welcome, it is not enough, and organisations are concerned that the public may feel it is “job done” when it isn’t.

A quarter of VCFS staff have been placed on furlough, but many roles are ineligible due to the way they are funded. Charities are keen to retain staff so most are using reserves to retain ineligible staff, but some have had to cut hours, wages or jobs.

The VCFS also faces HR challenges around illness and self-isolation, poor mental health, bereavement, management of remote staff and new training needs Whilst most of the sector is adapting well to virtual and home working, some are not due to not having the right equipment, and the fact that many VCFS services do not lend themselves to remote delivery.

Around two-thirds of organisations have cut non-Covid-19 services even though demand is still high. Some capacity reduction is offset by new delivery methods, new services, repurposing, and by new mutual aid organisations set up within communities.

Covid-19 has seen many people registering as volunteers, including 750,000 through an NHS portal, however there is little demand for these volunteers across Surrey, and local volunteer centres already have a surplus of volunteers.

New “mutual aid” groups are welcome and offer vital services to their local communities, but there are risks around data protection, safeguarding and fraud prevention. Some groups expect to become formalised and to carry on their services post-Covid-19, whereas others expect to disband.

The VCFS has introduced new ways of delivering services, but many can’t be delivered or accessed remotely, or serve beneficiaries without physical or intellectual means to access them, including being unable to afford the necessary equipment and connectivity.

The Covid-19 crisis has seen a radical shift in how sectors are working together, coalescing around Covid-19 needs and working at a very rapid pace. VCFS partners are being engaged at a strategic and operational level in a way that it is hoped will continue postCovid-19.

While VCFS organisations are focused on the current crisis, they expect a long and deep recession afterwards, with resulting increases in demand and long term reduction in income and capacity that will be a challenge for the organisations, statutory partners and those who rely on their services