Somerset State of the Sector Report

February 14, 2017

Commissioned by several key community organisations, this survey collected evidence from charities and voluntary groups from across the county, including responses from each of the district areas, about the issues and challenges they are currently facing as well their development and support needs. Read the entire report here

There are more than 2800 registered charities in Somerset, the majority of which are micro (less than £10k turnover pa) or small-sized (between £10k – 100K) organisations and there are many more informal community groups. Together these organisations play an enormous role in public life in the county often through the efforts of large numbers of committed volunteers and supported by volunteer Boards of Trustees.

As public services are increasingly stretched, the pressure on these charity and voluntary groups is set to grow and most are expecting increased demand for their services.

The report gives a picture of a sector under great pressure caught between reducing resources and growing needs for their services. Most organisations also reported a growing complexity of issues faced by their clients.

It highlights the need for more community services to support young people, people experiencing mental health issues, people with autism, people who are economically disadvantaged and people experiencing social isolation and loneliness.

However there is evidence of enormous commitment and optimism with many organisations planning to deliver more services next year, many working in partnership with other organisations and more planning to explore these opportunities.

This report is an important benchmark of the charity and voluntary sector in Somerset. For those of us who know the sector well it’s a true picture of largely small groups being creative and innovating with hugely committed volunteers but struggling to raise the funds they need to cover essential costs.’ Liz Simmons: Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum.

Leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr John Osman said: “This survey reflects both the importance of the work local organisations do as well as the pressures we are all under.

“It strongly reinforces the need to work together and we know that the voluntary sector can play a vital role in support of many of our hugely valued services, particularly in the area of helping people retain and regain their independence.

“We are working hard to develop closer links with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to achieve this.”

But how can the public get involved?

“Many of these groups rely heavily on volunteers to support their important work. They work tirelessly to support people in need, but they always need more help. Volunteering for a cause that matters to you can be a great experience in itself – with the added benefit that you are helping others and supporting your community.” Katrina Midgley – Engage

For further information about the survey please contact Liz Simmons: 01460 57205

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