THE latest report into the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the North East Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector has revealed that around half of organisations expect to dip into reserves to stay afloat this year.
The newly published results of the latest North East VCSE sector COVID-19 impact survey, carried out by Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE), in partnership with Local Infrastructure Organisations (LIOs) and members of the NE and Cumbria Funder’s Network, state that smaller organisations in particular, (those with an annual income under £50k) are likely to see an unplanned income reduction of more than 50 per cent, which will put them into a deficit position.
The report estimates that 320,224 people in the North East are either receiving a significantly reduced service or no service at all from the collective 117 VCSE organisations upon which they rely. And this figure represents a fraction of the total number of people currently unable to receive their usual levels of support due to COVID-19 from the region’s 7,200 VCSE organisations.
Carol Botten, Chief Executive at VONNE, the support organisation for the VCSE sector in the region, said:
“As with previous emergency situations and economic downturns, we have already seen the unequal impacts of Covid-19 on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society, and this research shows this is likely to continue.
“The swift reconfiguration of services and adoption of digital technology by the sector is to be applauded, but it should be recognised that not all organisations, VCSE staff and volunteer teams have had the capacity, confidence or access to the kit and software to be able to respond in this way, and continued support will be required for them to do so.
“It is often the individuals most likely to be at high risk of COVID-19, or that are furthest from accessing services, impacted most by this, so urgent, strategic policy interventions are required to alleviate digital poverty in the North East and prevent inequality divides widening further.”
VCSE organisations across the region have so far received less than £26m in total financial support. As with the previous survey results, these findings are being shared with stakeholders including local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, private sector organisations and the health system, to make the case for additional support and resources for the region, and with national infrastructure partners including NCVO, ACEVO, NAVCA and the Charity Finance Group, to help VONNE and its partners influence government decisions affecting the sector.
Read the full report, compiled with data supplied by 155 VCSE organisations across the North East here.
To find out more about VONNE, including how you can support its work, please visit: vonne.org.uk.