The impact of the pandemic on the VCSE sector in Cornwall has been unusual. Communities have pulled together to ensure that no one gets left behind. First time volunteers have risen over the past year. This was most notable in the first stages of the pandemic.

Building resilient communities

People rushed to support their neighbours however they could. Many amazing community projects sprung up. Almost all were volunteer led. The Daisy Chain in St Just, Treverbyn near St Austell, The Bugle Library of Things, Falmouth Community Fridge and the project brought about by Tamar Grow Local are just some of the local responses to relieving food insecurity.

The pandemic has boosted the effectiveness of the sector, a study found recently. Grassroots organisations have never played such an important role. We want to harness this support and momentum in our Co-creating Cornwall’s Future event. This fantastic community effort speaks volumes. It has changed the landscape of volunteering. To build back stronger, we absolutely must be working with communities and co-creating with them.

Charities on pause

In opposition to this demonstration of community action, many formal charities had to suspend volunteering. With Cornwall having quite a high 50+ demographic, this was in part to keep people safe. Many volunteer services changed what they could offer. Age Concern started a telephone befriending scheme.

This age group has now been vaccinated. Stage 2 of the roadmap means services are starting to open up again. The NCVO has launched a survey to find out how to Mobilise Voluntary Action. We encourage any organisation in the sector to contribute and help build a picture of Cornwall’s need, collaboration and response.

Read more about the impact of Covid on the sector.