18 September

IVAR’s tenth briefing shares the experiences of 24 VCSE leaders across the country participating in online peer support sessions between 28th July and 21st August, and IVAR’s reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.

Read the full Looking for more stability report here 

Three issues remain at the forefront of leaders’ minds:

  1. Staff and personal welfare: ‘Everyone is going through their own pandemic… two staff have had Covid, one has had a child … we can all be vulnerable during this time.’  
  2. Supporting the most vulnerable: ‘The local authority is trying to work out whether they are illegally or legally housing them. We’re just sitting and waiting for them to make a decision on this.’
  3. Adapting within a context of uncertainty: ‘I feel in a state of limbo and we’ll have to “suck it and see”.’

VCSE leaders need:

  1. Trust and flexibility: ‘[What is helpful is] funders really trusting your track record. When you’ve been doing good work for a long time, we need funders to rely on that’.
  2. Realism about what is possible in the current context: ‘Funders may assume digital services are cheaper, but they need to take into consideration planning time, and that it will mean the organisation has to run multiple small groups rather than one large group’.
  3. Access to peer support: ‘It makes me want to be creative. It has drawn me out of my cloud of uncertainty’.

From very early in this crisis, we have heard a drumbeat of consistent and emphatic messages from VCSE leaders – ‘be flexible’, ‘trust us’, ‘understand the pressure we are under and reflect this in how you work’, Unrestricted funding, lighter touch reporting, and radically streamlined application processes are within the gift of most – if not all – funders. As we enter the autumn, with a long road ahead on the implications and impact of Covid-19, and a planning environment that is subject to so many variables outside all of our control, VCSE organisations need the funders who have embraced these changes to hold their nerve. And for many others to join them.