Voluntary sector must be involved in planning for future crises, report warns

The government should form closer working relationships with voluntary and community sector organisations in preparation for future crises, a new report urges. 

The Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership, which was set up in 2018 to provide co-ordination among local and national organisations in the wake of crises, says in a new report today that voluntary sector organisations are involved in most domestic crisis response situations and public bodies must understand the potential of that involvement. 

The report, which examines how the partnership has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, says the government should continue to work with the voluntary and community sector to ensure it is part of emergency response structures at both a local and national level. 

This should include when creating a new national resilience strategy, the report says. 

“We live in a world with far-reaching new risks and connected challenges ranging from future pandemics to climate change,” it says. “Civil society and government should form close partnerships now to foster adaptation to these challenges.”

The report, called Lasting Connections, also calls for communities affected by Covid-19 to be involved at every stage of the emergency. 

“Collaboration that works is always built on a diverse range of voices reflective of society, and it is through this that we can create strong and effective emergency planning and response,” it says. 

“The government should continue to support the voluntary and community sector in this endeavour.”

The report also recommends that national organisations should “proactively seek to learn from organisations that work with marginalised communities” and improve their connections with local sector ecosystems, which should help support become more co-ordinated in future. 

The report calls for more urgent government action to fund and support local organisations as they look to build community resilience beyond the pandemic. 

Jehangir Malik, programme director at the VCS Emergencies Partnership, said: “Through the pandemic, the voluntary and community sector has united to help those who need it most by harnessing its collective skills, resources and insights in a way that is unprecedented. 

“Despite this, sector capacity has been stretched to its absolute limits, but public need is continuing to increase and diversify. 

“Lessons must be learnt and now is the time to take stock of ways to ensure effective, relevant and focused emergency response for the future by ensuring local and national organisations are fully enabled to work together, and with government, to build more resilient communities.”

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