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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Organisations connect to reflect on Covid-19 crisis and plan for the future

This news post is almost 3 years old

The Gannochy Trust and PKAVS have published a new report based on the experiences of more than 100 representatives of the voluntary sector in Perth and Kinross

A new report has detailed how the voluntary sector has responded and adapted to the Covid-19 crisis, and what change organisations would like to see happen.

The Gannochy Trust and PKAVS third sector interface have published a new report based on the experiences of more than 100 representatives of the voluntary sector in Perth and Kinross.

#BeConnected aims to provide a platform for the sector to share its strengths and challenges, and to describe the priorities for change that would bring about a stronger and more resilient local third sector.

Three #BeConnected events were held with organisations last winter which aimed to identify the strengths of the sector, the challenges it faces and what change it would like to see.

Joanna McCreadie, chief executive of the Gannochy Trust, said: “The Gannochy Trust and PKAVS Third Sector Interface worked together to offer three events attended by over 100 representatives of the Perth and Kinross third sector. We listened and learned as participants shared their views on the strengths and challenges of the sector. They also provided us with some creative thoughts on the change that they wanted to see happen.

“Enthusiasm and pride in the strengths of the third sector was palpable throughout the events and featured heavily in each of the three sessions. Delegates willingly shared anecdotes about their organisations, how they had adapted, responded to need, and achieved unimaginable levels of flexibility to meet new, emerging, and unmet needs. They reported an increase in partnership working and in collaborating with others. Willingness to adapt to online working and use of new IT support served as key enablers; in some cases, increasing an organisation’s ability to engage with communities, foster a positive reputation and build trusting relationships.

“The challenges that were identified had a clear focus on the limitations of online working and concern that service users that were not digitally agile were being excluded. This concern for people’s wellbeing was also reflected in concerns for staff and volunteer stress, fatigue, mental health and wellbeing. Insecurity, a lack of and short-term nature of pandemic funding were also identified as challenges. Difficulties in work planning when funding and the delivery environment were unclear were also expressed.”

The main strengths of the sector identified were the flexibility displayed by organisations; stronger relationships and closer collaboration within the community; embracing digital technology; the resilience of staff and volunteers; the reputation of the sector within the community; and the value of volunteers.

Limitations of online working; insecurity of funding; stress or fatigue amongst staff and volunteers; managing the challenges of the pandemic; and delays in being able to deliver services were identified as the main challenges.

The main changes representatives would like to see focused around funding and changing how organisations collaborate in future.

McCreadie said: “The change sessions featured the same top two issues throughout – ‘Change how funding works’ and ‘Change how we network and collaborate’. Delegates were quite clear that navigating funding applications, criteria and reporting all took valuable time out of their service delivery time and could be improved e.g., Longer-term funding, more trust in the experts in the field and flexibility to meet identified need. The appetite for further networking and collaboration was influenced by the benefits delegates were experiencing from attendance at the #BeConnected events and from their experiences during the pandemic of collaborating with other agencies to meet needs.”

The findings have promoted the trust and PKVAS to change how it will support organisations going forward. The trust has said it will change how it supports charities in Perth and Kinross beyond grant making by developing a programme of Funding Plus activities in 2021, and will review its current funding practice and launch a new grant-making strategy in 2022.

The two organisations will work together to support collaboration and networking for charities in Perth and Kinross, with the TSI prioritising support with volunteer burnout.

You can view the full report online.