Volunteers played ‘an essential role’ in response to the pandemic, says Senedd Committee
The voluntary sector played ‘an essential role’ in response to the pandemic according to the Senedd’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.
Helpforce Cymru says 18,000 people had signed up to volunteer, many having registered after the start of the first lockdown in March with the number rising to 22,000 by December.
The true number of people volunteering across Wales is unknown due to informal groups and arrangements made by people in their local communities.
Mantell Gwynedd, which supports voluntary and community groups in Gwynedd, received around 600 offers during March last year with 50 per cent being placed.
A spokesperson for Mantell Gwynedd said: “If there’s one thing that I wish we could do from this pandemic it would be to put all that volunteer enthusiasm into a jar and put the lid on it and open it a little bit every time we need some of that in the future. If only we could do that.”
The pandemic will have a further financial impact on the voluntary sector as the Wales Council for Voluntary Action estimates charities and voluntary organisations headquartered in Wales will lose as much as £620 million over the course of the year.
Organisations which have diversified their income streams, and are less dependent on grants as well as government funding, are worse off it has been found.
A Wales Funders Forum spokesperson said: “The irony in all of this is that those organisations that had done the right thing, they’d gone out, they got a more diverse funding model, they were trading, they were raising funds from the public – it’s those organisations that have fared worse, whereas ones that were just operating on grants have been largely unaffected in terms of funding.”
The Committee says they want to see more resilience in the sector with extra support and funding commitments from the Welsh Government even when pandemic is officially over.
They also want to see a focus on Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) voluntary organisations which they say have been disproportionately affected.
John Griffiths MS, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, said: “During the course of this inquiry, the Committee has been inspired by the efforts of people and organisations across the country willing to give their own time, skills and support to help those in need.
“They have played an essential part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic and we are convinced many key services could not have been delivered as effectively without them.
“We believe voluntary services have an essential role to play in any emergency response strategy and are calling on the Welsh Government to formalise that role.
“But we must also recognise the problems many organisations are facing, both during the pandemic and before. Resilient, reliable funding is critical to their survival as is ongoing support from the Welsh Government and we are urging ministers to act on our recommendations.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com