Support for vital volunteering efforts extended

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, today announced the launch of the Voluntary Services Recovery Fund (VSRF), which will replace the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund (VSEF) from Monday 17th August 2020.

The VSEF, which has awarded almost £7.1million in emergency grant funding to voluntary organisations to date, closed on 7 August 2020 – but third sector organisations will still be able access funding to support the voluntary sector and continue to play a major part in Wales’ recovery efforts.

Jane Hutt said:

“We’ve been working closely with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, helping charities and third sector organisations to expand and adapt services to meet the specific needs of this challenging time. In 14 weeks, the Welsh Government Voluntary Services Emergency Fund awarded almost £7.1 million to 156 voluntary organisations who have been working on the front line to support our most vulnerable communities.

“Charities, voluntary sector organisations and volunteers have played a vital role in the response to Covid-19, and our support for the voluntary sector won’t end here. As life begins to return to a new normal, and shielding for our most vulnerable citizens ends in August, we will be opening a new funding scheme to enable organisations to meet new needs and respond to new challenges.

“The Voluntary Services Recovery Fund will be open for applications from August 17. It will focus on reducing the inequalities across society which have emerged with such devastating clarity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many communities suffered disproportionately, and are still in emergency situations. This new fund will support the third sector to continue to deliver essential services to communities throughout Wales, and to adapt to meet new needs, for example relating to mental health and social well-being.

“I want to acknowledge and celebrate the invaluable contribution made already by the third sector in Wales, which has provided much-needed help and support during a particularly challenging time. Thank you for continuing to work tirelessly to support communities throughout Wales. Your dedication has been an inspiration.”

WCVA Chief Executive, Ruth Marks, said:

“It’s been truly inspiring to see the critical work that voluntary organisations have been doing during the pandemic response to help the most vulnerable in Wales. At WCVA we’re really pleased to have been able to support that work alongside Welsh Government through the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund.

“Now, as we see an easing of restrictions, the needs of the voluntary sector are changing. It’s important that we adapt our support, and the purposes of this emergency grant scheme, to enable voluntary organisations to address the different challenges that lie ahead.”

Helen Hughes, Charity Coordinator at Stephens and George Charitable Trust, which benefitted from VSEF funding, said:

“The VSEF funding has enabled Stephens and George Charitable Trust to support over 1000 people weekly. The monies enabled us to purchase food to support Children in Need Families, older people in isolation, people with Covid-19 leaving hospital, and young people who had lost their part time jobs during Covid-19 and had no monies to buy food.

“Without the support of a free food parcel during Covid-19, or home shopping by volunteers, many people would have had NO support and been totally isolated and vulnerable.

“The VSEF funding enabled the charity to support and care for those in need, and alleviated the negative impacts of Covid-19.”

Tarakanatha Dasa, of Food for Life Wales, said:

“Through generous support from the Voluntary Sector Emergency Fund, we have been able to engage over 200 volunteers to reach over 3,000 individuals from over 900 homes, 25 GP surgeries, 15 hospitals, 15 care homes, 5 emergency service stations and several other organisations.

“We have just hit the milestone of 45,000 meals delivered! Thanks to your funding we will be able to build on our success to continue to provide care and support to all those in need going beyond Covid-19.”

Application guidelines for the new Voluntary Services Recovery Fund will be announced shortly.

The Third Sector Resilience Fund remains open for applications, and will continue to provide direct financial support to charities and third sector organisations to help pay bills and ease cash-flow.