The VCSE sector provides a huge range of essential support to people everyday - especially those in need and the vulnerable. This has never been more true than during COVID-19.

The VCSE sector provides a huge range of essential services, support and care to local residents.

It serves 62m people in the UK in various ways, and are leaders in supporting vulnerable people, communities and causes across the globe.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the sector has worked tirelessly with the NHS, local authorities, mutual aid groups, volunteers and businesses in ways to provide direct support to people in need.

The work of the voluntary and community sector saves lives.


However the VCSE sector is facing extreme pressures…

Significant losses to funding

The VCSE sector is facing significant losses to their income sources, due to lack of fundraising events, public donations and closure of charity shops.

This follows may consecutive years of funding cuts and austerity for the sector, causing many charities to operate with challenging finances and minimal reserves.

“The loss of income to charities over 12 weeks was calculated to be £4.3 billion at the start of lockdown.”


A survey carried out by the Directory of Social Change in the first weeks of COVID-19 found that half of charities said they were already in financial difficulties.

Reduced capacity to deliver services

Many charities and VCSE organisations are reliant upon volunteers to deliver their services and support – however due to the age and circumstances of their regular volunteers, they’re facing a huge reduction in their capacity, at a time when it’s most needed.

In addition, many organisations are being forced to put staff on furlough due to financial pressures, and are therefore operating on a much smaller staff team too.

Significant increase in demand for services

Alongside all these additional constraints, the majority of VCSE organisations are seeing a significant increase in demand for their support services, as more and more people need help and support during these difficult times.

42% of civil society organisations anticipated an increase in demand, at the same time as a 49% decrease in voluntary income.


Research conducted by the Charity Finance Group, Institute of Fundraising and National Council for Voluntary Organisations within the first two weeks of lockdown found that organisations were struggling with steep increases in demand for their services

The need for a sustainable social prescribing model

NAVCA highlights the power of the VCSE sector in their #NeverMoreNeeded campaign.

COVID-19 has demonstrated the relevance, flexibility and willingness of the voluntary and community sector to work alongside statutory agencies, as well as the strength of relationships that VCSE organisations have in communities which might be harder for the Government to reach.

Ensuring that social prescribing is delivered in a sustainable way, with investment made into the VCSE sector, is critical for the future of social prescribing.

Working together in true partnership, social prescribing can improve Londoners’ health and wellbeing so everyone can live healthier lives.

Mayor of London
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