The Road Ahead 2021 NCVO reportIn January, NCVO published the report “The Road Ahead 2021”. This report analyses the new landscape the voluntary sector finds itself treading and aims to support the voluntary sector in navigating this challenge. It explores the different trends and scenarios that currently influence or will likely influence charities and organisations in 2021. These trends are: 

  • Political trends: The report examines the new Brexit reality and how it will affect our relationship with the EU; as well as the prospect of an independent Scotland. 

  • Economic trends: The COVID-19 pandemic has added pressure to an economy on the verge of deflation, causing an exponential increase in the demand for charities’ servicesFood poverty, homelessness, debt and mental health are some of the most urgent issues faced by many people in the UK. However, these needs are counterbalanced by the many other problems charities are facing such asjob losses, closures and decrease in number of funding streams. 

  • Social trends: The report discusses the inequalities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic in our society and the incredible response from communities across the UK, many of whom have risen to the occasion to support their fellow citizens. Despite this, many people who have wanted to help have not been able to due to health risks or common barriers that make it difficult for certain groups to volunteer. The report defends a campaign to drive the voluntary sector to become more equitable, diverse and inclusive. 

  • Technological trends: As from 2020, society had to adapt to different forms of communication and technology allowed us to be more flexible in the face of such drastic changesMany charities and organisations had to change their service providing methods. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted gaps in charities digital skills and infrastructure, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity and data protection. 

  • Environmental trends: The report examines the important role charities have on calls for action and in helping communities to adapt to the changing environment, especially how that will play into the climate change movement. 

  • Rights and Regulations: The new regained sovereignty is a great opportunity to shape new legislations and regulations that could potentially benefit communities and the voluntary sector. However, sovereignty always come with a price as it will undoubtedly be influenced by factors related to the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic such as the loss of personal freedom. As we know, this bears a significatn impact on people and communities.  

So, what does that mean for Sutton's voluntary sector and volunteering as a whole? 

  • Strong Communities: Volunteering is considered by the central government to be an essential service. Sutton residents have shown that they want to help and are more than capable of doing so. They have made a massive contribution to the welfare of Sutton. Creating meaningful opportunities to volunteers not only help your organisation, but it also helps the community to thrive. 
  • Influence: Sometimes it feels that we alone cannot influence or make a difference in the national arena. This does not need to be the case. The Voluntary Sector in Sutton has had many years of experience and we are great at what we do. We need to be bold and share this accumulated wealth of experience. There are different ways your organisation can be part of the conversation. There are organisations and networks out there that aim to amplify the voices of small charities and organisations. 
    • Community Action Sutton has a variety of groups and forums which gives a great platform to start those conversations and organise! 
    • London Plus is championing and supporting London’s civil society during the Covid-19 outbreak. 
    • NAVCA is a membership body that also promote the interests of the voluntary sector.
  • Targeting, targeting, targeting: We at Volunteer Centre Sutton always sing the glories and benefits of volunteering. That is because we know first-hand how much good volunteering can do to people’s lives. Volunteering can help our community to heal and thrive, but this means that we need to reflect on how we can offer volunteering opportunities that are equitable, diverse and inclusive. We also need to explore the reasons behind barriers to volunteering and how to combat them. Our Open Doors Project supports organisations that want to start to think about their volunteering recruitment and development.  

These are but a few factors that we think are important to be reflected on by organisations in Sutton – take them as a conversation starter. However, I would strongly recommend reading the report. 

The bottom line is that the Volunteer Centre Sutton and our Volunteer Delivery and Development Team is here to support your organisation in all matters related to making your organisation grow through volunteering.

If you would like to continue the conversation, feel free to get in touch with me at: martarocco@vcsutton.org.uk  

Volunteer Centre Sutton is the operational name of Sutton Borough Volunteer Bureau | Company type: Charitable incorporated organisation | Company number: CEO19319 | Charity number: 1048978 |