1. This statement is being issued jointly by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and covers work with the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector that is funded by both organisations. It is intended to complement statements of support to the VCSE sector already issued by districts in Greater Manchester.
2. We want to start by offering our thanks for all the extremely valuable work the sector is doing to help people across Greater Manchester support each other during these difficult times. We know that the skill, energy and compassion of the VCSE sector will be vital in keeping our communities strong. But we also recognise the huge pressure that this is putting on staff, volunteers & budgets.
3. The COVID-19 outbreak is an emergency that will have a profound impact on the VCSE sector. We know that the sector will face financial challenges, difficulties in rapidly shifting to new ways of working, and will do all this against the backdrop of a spike in demand for support and a potential reduction in staffing levels as a result of the outbreak.
4. We also know that VSCE organisations of all different shapes and sizes play a core role in supporting the health and wellbeing of people across Greater Manchester. But we also recognise you can’t do this alone, and that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available.
5. We want to reassure you that we stand with you during this unprecedented period and we will work in partnership with you. We want to do everything we can to enable the VSCE sector to focus on the vital work you do supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The new Greater Manchester VCSE Commissioning Framework and Delivery Plan, agreed between the Joint Commissioning Board and VCSE Devolution Reference Group, will guide our approach.
6. To support you in the coming months, we will:
- Do everything we can to support your financial position – for example through more regular or upfront payment of existing grants where we can and ‘rolling over’ recurrent grants for next year without the need for formal applications;
- Continue to lobby Government about the importance of the sector and the support you need to enable you to undertake vital work with all our communities;
- Be flexible on reporting and monitoring for the foreseeable future, so that you can free up time to focus on your frontline support to communities;
- Give you the freedom you need to use your funding where you think it will have the most impact wherever we can and not tie you to previously agreed delivery targets or outcomes. Where we can’t do this (because it is outside our control) we will tell you, and work with you to agree a sensible way forward;
- Maintain an open, honest and regular dialogue about the challenges you’re facing and how we can help;
- Promote the work you’re doing to the wider public through our core channels to garner additional support and resources.
7. In return we ask that you:
- Use your networks, your relationship with your communities and your experience to provide us with advice about what needs to happen;
- Engage with your locality and Greater Manchester-wide coordination activity where you can, and tell us quickly if you are finding this to be too much of a burden;
- Keep us informed about any changes you make to your activity;
- Understand we are also facing severe pressures, with many similar demands on our finances and our time;
- Bear with us and understand that we will get things wrong in these unprecedented times, but we will act as quickly as we can to rectify any mistakes;
8. We are also committed to doing what we can to provide practical support to local areas. For example, our VolunteerGM website provides a clear, central place for Greater Manchester residents to go to find out how they can contact local organisations and register an interest to volunteer in their community.
9. We want to finish by offering our thanks again to everyone across the sector for everything you are doing. We will do whatever we can to support you.