In our blog article this week, we invite guest contributor Stefan Zylinski – Consultancy Portfolio Manager at The Care Forum, a local health and social care community infrastructure organisation – to speak about the work his organisation has been developing to support the VCSE sector across Bristol and the West of England in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

We’re living in profoundly challenging times. All aspects of economic and social life have changed or come to a temporary standstill; for those of us working in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector, this is no different.

Pressure on VCSE organisations, staff and volunteers is mounting, as VCSE organisations have taken a pivotal frontline role in the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Yet, at the same time, recent reports (March 2020) estimate the VCSE sector across the UK could lose £4.3bn over the 12 weeks since the start of lockdown, threatening many organisations with imminent collapse.

In this challenging context, we’ve been reflecting as an organisation on how best to support our staff and volunteers through this period. Yet, as we discussed these issues within our management team, it became clear that these problems were something our colleagues would be experiencing across the VCSE sector.

Working in partnership with our West of England Civil Society Partners – a partnership of VCSE infrastructure and support organisations working across the West of England – we’ve been able to rapidly develop, test and launch a comprehensive survey that explores how different aspects of VCSE working arrangements in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) are impacting employee and volunteer wellbeing – from social isolation and new homeworking arrangements, to levels of support from your organisation.

This research will be used to better support the VCSE sector in Bristol and the West of England through these challenging times. It will allow VCSE organisations, local authorities and funding organisations across the region to have the insight and data to better support VCSE staff wellbeing, and simultaneously, to better understand the needs and capacity within VCSE organisations regionally.

With this in mind, we ask our friends and colleagues working in VCSE organisations across Bristol and the West of England to share and fill in the survey and by doing so, to help support the VCSE sector through these challenging and uncertain times.

If you have any questions about this research, or if your organisation is interested in working together on a specific piece research to engage with your staff over this period, then please get in touch with The Care Forum’s research team – research@thecareforum.org.uk.

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