An Important Update on Shaping the future of the CV sector

Posted on
2 Jun 2020
by
Ivan Cooper | Director of Public Policy, The Wheel

We think you will agree that the community and voluntary sector has played a crucial role in the positive COVID-19 response.  

Members have redesigned and re-organised services, supported vulnerable people in new and innovative ways, and accomplished all of this while dealing in many cases with a collapse in earned and fundraised income.  

We have been working hard with members, colleague networks and federations to understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on the community and voluntary sector's work. The aim of this was to secure emergency supports and funds to enable organisations to continue their work and get through this challenging period. 

In this regard we very warmly welcomed the Government's €35m Stability Fund and the €5m Innovation Fund, which we worked hard to ensure. However, we note note that this is only a start in relation to what now needs to be done to put the work of Ireland's charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises on a sustainable footing. We are now focussing intensely on this question and I am writing to invite you to take part in shaping our thinking on the priorities for the sector in the period ahead by reading this short discussion paper and emailing your views directly to me.

The paper informed a rich discussion on the future of the sector at last Wednesday's Virtual Summit, which was watched by over 600 people. Challenges and opportunities for the sector were discussed by distinguished panelists Suzanne Connolly (CEO Barnardos); Anna Shakespeare (CEO Pobal); Alison Harnett (Interim Manager National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers); and Tracey Monson (Director of Services, Daughters of Charity Child and Family Services).

You can watch the recording of that rich and insightful discussion below.

Key points made by the panelists included the need for:

  • A sustained re-connection with the values that inspired the community and voluntary sector response to the crisis 
  • Community and voluntary organisations to tell our stories better and report on the right things 
  • More effective collaborative advocacy
  • More collaborative working between community and voluntary organisations and between the sector and the state
  • Statutory funders to recognise and appropriately fund essential work and essential services 
  • Highest governance standards facilitated by streamlined (and resourced) compliance requirements
  • A focus on value for public funding and demonstrating that value through capturing the impact of the sector's work
  • Supporting staff and volunteers in using new technologies.

The Wheel is working to develop the discussion paper, the output from the Virtual Summit and insights from the many conversations and discussions we are having with members into a clear set of developmental priorities. The aim of these is to support strong communities that are underpinned by a thriving community and voluntary sector in the period ahead.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to review this email and strongly encourage you to read the discussion paper, view the conference session and feedback your views directly to me at ivan@wheel.ie.

Please be assured that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that the new government, when formed, understands and values the contribution made by the sector and the supports it will need in the period ahead to play its part in sustaining and enhancing the community spirit that served us so well during the crisis.