Published 23rd April 2018
The purpose of the voluntary sector is to improve and enrich society. It exists to create social wealth rather than material wealth. The Voluntary and Community Sector works with the diversity of community members across Bexley, including Black & Minority Ethnic community members, older people, carers, people with mental health issues, victims and survivors of domestic abuse, victims of crime, people with complex and long term conditions, children and young people, and people with learning disabilities. Volunteers also contribute a huge amount to Bexley communities; it is estimated that 27% of people volunteer at least once a month (NCVO almanac). Based on Bexley population of 244,955 (2016 GLA) this would mean that approx. 65,205 people volunteer in Bexley.
State of the Sector
The 2014 State of the Sector report* commissioned by Bexley Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) found that that there are 842 registered organisations in Bexley (these include: charities, exempted charities, amateur sports clubs, and social enterprises such as mutuals, Community Interest Companies (CICs) and Companies Limited by Guarantee) which are based here or explicitly include Bexley in their Area of Operation.
The unregistered voluntary and community sector is also huge. This includes unregistered charities (with income less than £5k), plus other clubs, societies, faith congregations, and community groups. We might estimate there to be 1,100 such groups in Bexley, based on the proportion of ‘micro’ organisations in the UK vs registered charities.
The charity sector in Bexley is primarily made up of small organisations. 26% of charities had an income of less than £10,000, and a further 20% had an income of £10,000-£25,000. 15% had an income of £25,000-£100,000 and 14% had an income of £100,000-£500,000.
The total income of the 371 registered charities with an Area of Operation explicitly including Bexley (excluding an NHS trust’s charity) is estimated at £161,646,582.6. Council funding to the VCS (£23,168,226) is equivalent to 14% of this figure – so for every £1 given by the Council, these charities raise another £5.90. (This can only be a proxy as the two populations are not the same).
Who are the beneficiaries of registered charities?
Note that many charities work with several groups of people, so categories are not mutually exclusive and figures will not add up to the total number of charities.
Children and young people (and their families) were the largest group of beneficiaries (183 charities working with this group), followed by Specific religious groups (160 charities) and General public (e.g. museums, community centres, public health awareness) (131).
At what stage do voluntary and community organisations intervene?
Note that many charities work with several groups of people, so categories are not mutually exclusive.
The average number of unpaid hours contributed by trustees and volunteers in Bexley is 86.4 per week per organisation. If these people were paid the London Living Wage (£8.80) their work would cost each organisation £39,536 per year. If they were paid the average hourly wage for jobs in Bexley (£13.86), it would cost each organisation £62,270 per year.
If the charities based in Bexley, plus others which include it explicitly in their AOO, had to pay staff to work the hours currently contributed by volunteers within Bexley, at the London Living Wage (£8.80) it would cost them a total of £19,230,640 per year. If they were paid the average hourly wage for jobs in Bexley (£13.86), it would cost a total of £30,288,258 per year.
75% of VCOs provide training to their volunteers, helping them to improve their position in the labour market. Training covers a wide range of topics from safeguarding to customer service to parenting and behaviour management.
In several cases the training offered (or required) for volunteers was quite intensive and accredited: to give examples, a 60-hour initial course in bereavement counselling, a 10-module course in working with families, an accredited 120-hour course in drug education,
*Note: BVSC are commissioning a 2018 State of the Sector report.
The Role of BVSC
BVSC exists to enable a strong, sustainable and influential VCS, that makes a positive impact to people’s lives in Bexley. BVSCs role is to build resilience, reach and the voice of the sector, and this is achieved in a number of ways:
- supporting the development and sustainability of the sector by offering training, networks, funding resources and individual support
- help to create influential and supportive relationships between the VCS and its public sector partners
- managing a small grants process
- the central hub for volunteers and all volunteering related matters in Bexley
- supporting organisations to identify and respond to needs in the community
BVSC facilitate a number of forums enabling the sector to come together to share information and good practice and build partnerships to collaborate for the benefit of communities. The forums include the Children and Young Peoples network, the Volunteer Manager forum and the Voluntary forum.
Community Wellbeing Hub
BVSC and the Local Authority are working in partnership to create a thriving, vibrant and active community hub which supports Bexley residents’ health and wellbeing. The project seeks to bring an old manor house back into use as a fully connected digital hub for the voluntary and community sector in Bexley.
Social Prescribing in Bexley has been piloted in the last three years and is now being rolled out across the borough. Known locally as Community Connect, it aims to connect local people with non-medical sources of support within the community to improve their health and well-being.
Community Connect is delivered by BVSC and Mind in Bexley and supports Bexley residents to maintain healthy and productive lives in their own homes, through:
- assistance with recovery from adverse events, ill health or injury
- enhanced quality of life for people with long-term conditions
- improved resilience
- reduced social isolation
- delay or prevention in the development of long term or life limiting conditions
- prevention of premature mortality
As a result, the local health economy in Bexley will benefit from:
- a reduction in unnecessary appointments through the facilitation of self-care
- more appropriate use of Health and Social Care services including Primary Care, Acute NHS Services and Ambulatory Services
- improved access for primary care clinicians to refer to PEI (Prevention and Early Intervention) services
Social Prescribing has the potential to develop a culture to engage communities meaningfully in solutions that will help people to take control of their health and become more independent. Social Prescribing also provides a platform to ensure there is understanding of the services and activities meet the needs of local people, reach those that find it most hard to access services and make a real difference to people’s lives.
There is a vibrant voluntary and community sector in Bexley and further information can be found from many sources including direct from the organisations, BVSC Community Directory, The Local Offer and The Care Hub to name a few examples. BVSC also distribute a regular bulletin summarising key information about the sector. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The Council and CCG view the voluntary and community sector in Bexley as key partners in supporting its residents. Further information about our partnership and shared ambition can be found in the Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy for Bexley 2016 – 2020, and the Compact for Bexley
Healthwatch Bexley captures the voice and lived experience of the people of Bexley through a range of activities and is the independent community champion for those who access health and care services locally.
The breadth of Healthwatch work in Bexley includes:
- Working with community and voluntary groups to find out what’s important to the people of Bexley.
- Working with others at regional level to ensure the views of local people are included in the development and delivery of services – some of which may be commissioned at South East London level and/or a pan London footprint.
- Working with other Healthwatch organisations in South East London, particularly on issues where they access services in common, such as Hospital services.
- Undertaking innovative engagement and rigorous research activities to build up a detailed picture of people’s lived experiences. In Bexley this includes work undertaken on community led projects, and commissioned work from partners in the local health and care economy, charities and schools.
- Improving access to information about health and social care services by answering questions via the telephone and as part of outreach work into the community;
- Recruiting and training a thriving network of volunteers who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of Healthwatch in Bexley.
- Signposting and helping residents navigate the health and care system in Bexley;
- Contributing local intelligence to regional and national work through Healthwatch England.
- Bringing the views and experiences of local people to commissioners – the Bexley Health and Wellbeing Board, the Clinical Commissioning Group, joint initiatives such as Local Care Network Development (LCNs) and primary care development.
For more information on the work of Healthwatch Bexley: http://www.healthwatchbexley.co.uk/resourses