Covid-19 Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Sector Impact Survey - October 2020
Thu 15 Oct 2020
When we first took a snapshot survey of the VCSE response to Covid in May we were pleased to report that 2/3 of the sector remained open and many of you had seen a huge surge in demand for your services. The picture a few months on isn’t so positive, with almost half of responders saying that services are now closed, mothballed or reduced in general. More of you are now saying that you have seen a significant reduction in service users (35%) than those reporting a significant increase. This is probably to be expected with the lockdown surge now dissipated, but older and vulnerable people remaining socially isolated and not participating in the groups they did before Covid.
Whilst a good proportion reported either not applying for funding or having been successful in doing so, almost half are already reporting having had to draw on reserves to cover lost income and extra costs. In one sense reserves are there for exactly these situations, but the fact that so many are already using them, in what is still probably the early stages of what we face, is a real concern.
There has clearly continued to be a large degree of turbulence in volunteer participation with 40% reporting gains and/or losses, though it is somewhat reassuring that over half of responders reported that volunteer numbers over all were unaffected. A relatively small number reported planned staffing redundancies, though this may remain too early to judge and historically (such as during the 2008+ austerity programme) the VCSE sector tends to lag behind the private and public sector in making redundancies, as grants, contracts and reserves keep them going for a period. Also the survey was completed whilst furlough remained active for many (17%).
Technological adaptation was reported by over half of responders, but worryingly this was much stronger as an internal (staff/volunteer) exercise, and much less successful in terms of service users (just 17% said it had improved significantly). This backs up our ongoing concerns that in parts of the sector, both group leaders and participants remain largely socially isolated with no plans to return to face to face or perhaps even digital interaction. As such we are again reviewing what support we can direct at this challenge.
Starkly, just 1% of responders felt confident about the future, though thankfully over half said ‘about the same’ as before Covid. Many also provided specific asks around support to help them do more – you have asked for more on digital technology training and a range of funding and fundraising methods. We will be reviewing this in detail and amending our offer accordingly.
We would like to sincerely thank everyone who responded and assure you that we do read and where appropriate, respond, to every submission. The results help to shape our services and will be used to update and advocate for you with statutory partners in the coming weeks, including at the main ‘Recovery Coordination Group’ meeting of local statutory sector leaders.