When the Coronavirus emerged as a pandemic in March 2020, Cornwall VSF switched focus, and has been spending time exclusively on supporting the voluntary sector’s response to the crisis. We established the VCSE Emergency Response Alliance (VERA), a strategic core body, and 19 Community Response Hubs, the operational arms, to support the initial crisis response. We worked very firmly within our strategic principles of Voices, Influence, Collaboration, Actions, just focussed solely on the COVID-19 response, enabling the sector to support the people of Cornwall, to have their voices heard in the high level conversations, and be supported to ride out the crisis, emerging stronger afterwards.
Subsequently, after the first wave had died down, we have begun to look at rebuilding, and restoring the sector, and while we are still sharing useful information, the focus has switched.
Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Sector Emergency Response Alliance (VERA)
VERA is a strategic alliance made up of CEOs and Trustees representing the VCSE sector across Cornwall. These are individuals who have considerable strategic influence, and access to a bigger network to draw intelligence and resources from, during the COVID-19 emergency. We meet twice weekly on Mondays and Wednesdays to discuss subjects pertinent to the crisis and recovery. Regular guest speakers are invited, to help further our thinking and action, including Kate Kennally (CEO of Cornwall Council), sharing early ideas around Cornwall’s recovery plan. Presently, VERA is largely focused on exploring how the VCSE sector and its staff and volunteers can successfully recover from the adverse impact of COVID-19. For more about VERA, including all the organisations and ‘business systems’ represented, see the VERA page.
Community Response Hubs
There are 19 Community Response Hubs, across the 19 Community Network Areas of Cornwall, in which the VCSE sector has a part. The other stakeholders within Community Response Hubs are Cornwall Council’s Community Link Officers, Public Health officers, parish and town council officers, and faith leaders. These hubs are operational in nature and their role is to identify any immediate unmet needs that they can look to address wherever they can, bringing with them their networks and resources, positive influence, and possible resource-sharing, as well as brokering further support. For a list of all the Community Response Hubs, and their VCSE representatives, see the CRHs page.
Support for reopening activities
We are starting to compile resources for organisations as they begin to reopen premises and meet clients again. This area will grow as the situation changes. Initially we have started to publish some Risk Assessment documents, shared by generous members.
We have collected a series of funding sources and resources, for organisations, and to help them support the individuals they work with. This will be regularly updated, as new funding streams come into being.
Covid-19 resources in alternative formats
Various organisation have produced resources around COVID-19 for those who are not able to access the regular information. This has been collected here, for sharing with organisations who might interact with these groups.
Voluntary sector survey
Cornwall VSF managed a survey in May 2020, with help from contacts in the sector and at Exeter University, to evaluate the social and economic impact that the current crisis has had on the voluntary sector. Many organisations are seeing an increase in demand, with a forecast surge still to come, while also experiencing a corresponding drop in income from fundraising, but we needed to establish a more precise picture, in order to help the sector recover. Many organisations took part in the survey, and shared it with their contacts – thank you for your contribution, if this was you!
We released the results of the survey in June- see our press statement, with links to the full survey.
We have published a selection of stories, showcasing the awesome volunteers and organisations that are doing extraordinary things to support the people they work with, in these unusual times.
You can find out more about them here:
- Volunteers from Guide Dogs for the Blind keeping in touch with people with sight loss
- disAbility Cornwall, Hayle Rugby Club and Cornish Kitchen creating Hayle Community Kitchen
- An outdoor education instructor from Band of Brothers now delivering prescriptions
- Cornwall Scrubs: When volunteers and their sewing machines come together
Contact Claire on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an inspiring story to share, and check back in later, as we will be publishing more stories in the weeks to come.