Volunteer Sector – Better Together

The voluntary, community, faith, and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector has always worked hand in hand with the health and social care sector, because our broad goals are the same – a healthy, happy, well supported society, a place where everyone matters and where nobody is left behind.

We also share some of the same challenges, like (lack of) funding for example, and both the VCFSE and the health and social care sectors are blessed by the support of countless volunteers, without whose dedication, millions of people across the country simply wouldn’t get the support that they so desperately need.

Over the last 18 months, both of these sectors, from tiny, volunteer-run support groups to the national NHS, have worked tirelessly, on relatively very few resources, to get people through the worst health crisis in a generation and the worst pandemic in 100 years. The partnerships developed have been deeper and stronger than any I can remember in my 20 years in this environment, and the selflessness displayed by both paid staff and unpaid volunteers has been awe-inspiring.

For the VCFSE sector’s part, there has been a real sense that our efforts have been recognised in ways that perhaps they hadn’t been before, with many gaining greater understanding of the skills, professionalism, experience, and expertise on offer from not-for-profit organisations. There has even been a long-running hashtag on social media, #NeverMoreNeeded, to demonstrate the work of the sector and just how vital it is, especially during periods of crisis.

We really are better together; we are greater than the sum of our parts.

So it is surprising, and disheartening, to see recent attacks on colleagues across these sectors for doing their jobs, and to see certain outlets stoking the fires of this discontent when they should be celebrating and thanking those whose love and care do so much for so many, whether it’s nurses and doctors, lifeboat crews, National Trust volunteers, or any number of others whose lives are lived to help, and to make a positive difference to the world.

Two people in the same room can have very different views depending on which window they look through. If ever you find yourself thinking badly of others, ask yourself where your window is pointing, then go outside to get a fuller picture.