It’s time to talk?

The Covid-19 crisis has involved profound and acute challenges for many voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises in England. According to the DCMS Committee in May 2020, ‘their contribution is needed now more than ever as the country responds to the challenge of Covid-19. Charity workers are some of the real heroes of the response to the pandemic, with many working with great courage on the frontline of the crisis’. [1] Many organisations have stepped up quickly to reorganise services and meet intensifying needs of the most vulnerable but at the same time are struggling to find the resources to keep going.

The government’s £750m package of support has offered a lifeline for parts of the sector, but there remain fears that the sector’s role may be severely diminished. It is ‘never more needed’, but also never more challenged. What, then is the future for voluntary action across social welfare as we seek to recover from the crisis?

As we come towards the end of our study, we are holding a policy seminar to discuss this issue, drawing on findings that compare debates on the role and contribution of voluntary action in the 1940s and 2010s – two ‘transformational moments’ in the shape and direction of social welfare services across England. You can read a summary of the research in this briefing and watch a presentation of our key findings below.

[1] Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2020) The Covid-19 crisis and charities, HC 281 (London, House of Commons)

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