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Pandemic impacts voluntary sector in Calderdale

Demand for the voluntary sector’s services has spiked but for a lot of organisations funding remains a challenge.

Calderdale’s voluntary sector has risen to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic – but is counting a financial cost.

Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board heard the sector had maintained help and support to people over the three months since lockdown and had worked well with partners.

But their finances had been hit, an issue which was the case across the country, said the Chief Executive Officer of Voluntary Action Caldetdale (VAC), Dipika Kaushal.

“All in all, the sector has responded very well and has been able to offer and ensure services to the community at grass roots level,” she said.

Ms Kaushal said volunteers had been involved in four key areas – informal neighbourhood groups, community groups, cross-sector collaboration, particularly with the primary care network such as GPs, and forward planning.

It had been a huge undertaking making sure vulnerable groups had food during the pandemic and providing mental health help to people.

Demand for the voluntary sector’s services had spiked but for a lot of organisations funding remained a challenge.

“The greatest concerns are the next six months we are looking at 50 per cent of organisations starting to experience some financial issues and difficulties,” she said.

Ms Kaushal said research had shown that across the country one in ten charities will be going bankrupt in the next six to nine months, if their financial situation remains the same.

Issues tackled included mental health, domestic violence, poverty and COVID-19’s impact on BME and migrant communities.

In terms of shaping services for the future, the voluntary sector’s role would remain key.

In terms of planning and recovery, Calderdale was well ahead, she said.

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