A SURVEY of more than 100 Wiltshire charities has revealed that two thirds worry about the impact of the cost of living crisis and a third are uncertain about the future.
Salisbury charity Wessex Community Action’s third State of the Sector survey was returned by 114 groups from across Wiltshire and Swindon during May and June in collaboration with Voluntary Action Swindon to gauge their situation, post-pandemic.
Two thirds, when asked about concerns for the future, said the cost of living crisis is a worry, while 80% said they have been impacted by Covid in some way.
More than half (51%) said they are moderately concerned about the viability of their group, while 15% said they are extremely concerned.
More than a third of groups who responded said they had seen income from fundraising events fall since Covid, while a similar number said money coming in from the likes of sales of goods, services or venue hire has dropped. Over a quarter said their donations from individuals have fallen.
Nearly 60% of groups have applied for grant funding in the last six months. Two thirds were successful, with the rest waiting to hear the outcome, but 15% said they either don’t have time to make bids or couldn’t find a suitable source of funding.
Asked about increasing demand, 45% of respondents said the most common demand is from people with anxiety or mental health concerns, while 34% said more demand is coming from people who are feeling isolated, lonely or cut off from services and support.
A third of charities said since Covid they either have fewer volunteers or are finding them more difficult to recruit and a quarter are concerned they will not be able to meet increasing demand for support.
Wessex Community Action supports smaller groups across the county with training and guidance to help make them more resilient, represents the voluntary sector in dealings with council and health leaders and runs forums for small groups and charities.
Partnership and Engagement lead Anita Hansen, who oversaw the survey, said it is part of the charity’s remit to ‘take the temperature’ of the voluntary sector.
She said: “We carried out similar surveys in May and December 2020 but this current survey aims to measure how the sector is faring as the country has emerged from the pandemic and explore the new wave of challenges facing the sector.
“It’s important to note that the survey was carried out in the late spring and summer, before the impact of the cost of living and fuel price crisis had been felt, and the situation is likely to be far worse now.”
She said it is a concern that many have seen donations and income fall.
“We know that groups are facing the same cost of living challenges as the people they aim to help – with energy, food, rent and transport costs rising,” she said.
“It is also a worry that 15% don’t have time to apply for funding – or can find suitable sources of funding – to support their work.”
Read the full report at wessexcommunityaction.org.