Cornwall VSF has been conducting a ‘stress test’ survey, to find out how the voluntary sector is standing up under the ongoing pressures of COVID, and the needs that are arising in the populations which we support. We’re also looking to establish the needs that your predict, in the months ahead, and your own organisational needs.

The more answers we receive, the clearer the picture of the sector that we can generate. With more information comes better leverage for funding, partnerships and a voice at the table. This is where you can have your say, and make a difference.

You can take part here. The closing date will be 4 January.

Results so far

33 organisations had responded as at 2pm Monday 14 December, offering a wide range of service provision. Two thirds of them cover the whole of Cornwall (and sometimes beyond), and the rest are well spread across the county.

Income, capacity & demand

  • 75% have seen some decrease in income
  • 59% have seen come increase in outgoings
  • 58% have seen some increase in demand
  • 63% have seen some decrease in capacity
  • 50% report funding issues (or sustainable funding issues)
  • 40% anticipate a future increase in need

Respondent 1: We are very concerned about the coming period – January to March is typically our busy period triggered by the coldest part of the year with strain on household incomes post the Christmas period. We are already seeing significantly higher demand – the pandemic has pushed struggling budgets into barely coping. The ‘heat vs eat’ is a very real dilemma for too many people.  

Respondent 2: Additional funding secured, is all emergency COVID funding which has to be spent by end of March 2021, however we expect demand for our services to grow beyond this date, which if  further funding is secured will impact on our capacity to meet the need.

Unmet need now and in the future

Respiondents gave a long catalogue of unmet needs now, some problems could be tackled with more funding, but many are systemic –

Poverty, mental health, digital isolation, physical isolation, unemployment

Older people, and other traditionally vulnerable groups are particularly affected.

There is a rising need in health and mental health isolation and issues related to lack of employment and poverty

Respondent 3: Carers are burned out with no respite, closure of support services, and many are caring for longer without breaks.

Respondent 4: It is hard to quantify the level of unmet need – we are helping everyone who is accessing our services, however we ‘don’t know what we don’t know’ and our instincts tell us that there are people out there who are waiting until our face to face services reopen meanwhile their situation increases in complexity and severity.

What’s needed to get upstream of the need?

  • 50% need funding, or sustainable funding
  • 33% have staffing issues, either paid, volunteers, or specifically trained individuals, usually linked with funding
  • 15% said more statutory support was required

If no support is given here

  • Increased health needs (21%)
  • Increased mental health needs (32%)
  • Greater need for statutory services (21%)
  • 3 organisations predict their closure
  • 1 increasingly worried about staff mental health

Respondent 5: We would leave many people to suffer alone. That will lead to ongoing symptoms of stress and struggle. Health and wellbeing will suffer. The NHS would be picking up the pieces of many more lives.

Respondent 6: huge impact on communities, economy and individuals that are catastrophic.

Respondent 7: A rise in homelessness, increased use of foodbanks, potential increase in relationship breakdown and domestic violence, rising levels of poverty with barriers to accessing welfare benefits and health related support.

Respondent 8: A potential generation of lost young people

Greatest areas of need, and people affected

Organisational need

We are already working in many of these areas, and will redouble our efforts to provide the support that organisations need, in order to meet the needs that they see.