The impact of COVID-19 on the community and voluntary sector in Cornwall

A report for Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum
Nigel Sainsbury and Professor Jane Wills
University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall
11 June

Cornwall’s voluntary organisations have been adapting services to support more vulnerable people for longer during the Covid-19 crisis.

Less than a quarter (23 per cent) of volunteer organisations reported that the services they deliver are operating as usual in the midst of COVID-19, with 92 per cent having stopped at least one service. Many organisations report being unable to access Government funds.

Services supporting the young and the elderly are most adversely impacted – with one to one sessions, events and group activity most likely to have been suspended across the sector.  In light of this many voluntary organisations have transformed and extended their service offer to help more people receive more support during the crisis.

The findings come from a survey of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) of Cornwall, undertaken by Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum, in conjunction with Exeter University, in May 2020.

The survey sought information on the impact of COVID-19 on the services, finances and staffing levels of those organisations, in order to understand the knock-on effect to the people of Cornwall. It comes as the wider implications of COVID-19 are likely to result in a growing demand for the services that many voluntary organisations provide.

The survey was completed by 143 organisations, representing all areas of the voluntary sector, including organisational support groups such as for people with disabilities, sensory loss, older people, young people, and others in vulnerable groups.

More than three quarters reported that they had experienced loss of income. Smaller organisation were particularly concerned about their future finances.

The responses also indicated how the sector has innovated to adapt to the new landscape, and the changing needs of service users. Two thirds reported changing the way services are delivered, primarily by moving services online. The same number said they were ready to expand these services as needed. As many as 94 per cent intend to restart services in future.

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