Newcastle CVS has produced ‘Taking the Temperature 2015’. This study concerns the state of play of the voluntary and community sector in Newcastle surveying their members in April 2015. They asked questions about the organisations – their status, achievements and challenges, and what pressures they had identified for the future. 71 voluntary and community organisations completed the survey and they represent a reasonable reflection of the Newcastle CVS membership.
The key issues identified were:
- Income – raising sufficient funding
- Current procurement and contracting processes
- The amount of flux - organisations having to constantly re-organise and deal with changing numbers of staff and having adequate and appropriate premises given their new shape.
- Changing relationships, particularly with the local authority, the loss of key contacts and the shifting policy environment.
- The increasingly complex needs of people supported with a noticeable rise in poverty and destitution.
- Significant increases in demands for services
One key figure was that 74% of organisations surveyed had noted an increase in demand for their services.
The issues around partnership surfaced as a number of organisations noted having to compete with organisations they would have preferred to work with co-operatively, and the pressure of large organisations taking on more of the work of smaller ones. Some organisations felt forced into arrangements, rather than partnerships based on values.
Finally several respondents took the opportunity to promote the unique value of the voluntary sector, not as a ‘cheap’ provider of competitive services, nor as a supplier of unpaid volunteers, but as a genuine force for good, focussing on their clients / beneficiaries. There were certainly more pessimistic than optimistic views about the sector in 2020 with it being dominated by large providers, but this also means the public sector needs to take appropriate action if it wants to retain the rich and diverse mosaic that currently operates in Newcastle, which provides huge amounts of added value.