Today, on International Volunteer Day, the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, has said “Thank you” to the many volunteers who have made a difference in Wales this year, and announced a new £4m grant fund for third sector organisations, working in partnership with the public sector.
A wide range of volunteer and community action has been key to Wales’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in support of the most vulnerable people in the community.
This support has been vital to sustaining the health and well-being of many people. It has helped to reduce pressure on public services, and thereby saved lives.
Jane Hutt said:
I want to say thank you to all the amazing helpers who are and have been working in your communities, right across Wales.
You have already made a huge difference across Welsh communities. Community groups have shown how well volunteers work together, and I wish to applaud and celebrate the efforts made. It is fantastic to hear about the numerous inventive, creative ways that communities have found for supporting each other. Shared effort creates beautiful outcomes, and volunteering can have a huge and beneficial impact on both volunteers, and on those who are supported.
Voluntary and community action across Wales has been strongly focused on supporting vulnerable people and the groups and communities most affected by COVID, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and disabled people.
A new £4m grant funding scheme has now been launched which will help this vital work to continue, supporting the most deprived geographic areas and communities, and promoting partnership between public bodies and third sector organisations to achieve maximum impact.
This funding will sustain volunteering and community action during recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, helping grant recipients to introduce new systems and arrangements, and develop long term community support services.
Jane Hutt continued:
This grant scheme will have positive economic, social and cultural impacts. It will strengthen local communities, build community cohesion, and provide long-term support for the most vulnerable.
Through the lockdowns this year, volunteers, third sector organisations and community groups came together with spirit and conviction to support local communities. We could not have continued to function so well without your help, support and hard work.
Please carry on doing whatever you can to support your local area – it all makes a difference. Just remember to stay safe, stay local, and follow Welsh Government’s COVID-19 guidelines. Together, we will keep Wales safe.
Ruth Marks, CEO of Wales Council for Voluntary Action, said:
This year, volunteers have been at the forefront of community response to the pandemic in Wales, and indeed across the World. Since the beginning of 2020, more than 22,000 people have registered to volunteer on Volunteering-Wales.net. These volunteers have provided vital support to countless individuals, which has helped take pressure off the NHS.
WCVA has seen some truly amazing examples of volunteering and the impact that this support has had, and so we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one who has volunteered their time during this challenging year.
The voluntary sector has also experienced huge financial struggles during the pandemic, and so funds such as the Coronavirus Recovery Grant for Volunteering are vital in ensuring voluntary organisations are able to continue operating. WCVA will continue to work closely in partnership with public sector bodies and County Voluntary Councils to get much needed funds and support out to the sector.