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Reflect, Recover, Renew
17th Feb 2022

Reflect, Recover, Renew: Creating a Shared Vision for Somerset's VCSE

Diagram of the 5 principles of the shared vision - a VCSE sector that is: collaborative, community Led, coordinated, recognised, appropriately funded

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented change to people and communities worldwide, and Somerset is no exception. What is marked, however is the way in which Somerset’s voluntary, community, and social enterprises (VCSEs) stepped up to the challenge. As many other services closed their doors, VCSE sector organisations mobilised to provide practical, emotional, and social support across Somerset.

As one participant put it; "We were metaphorically ‘holding the baby’ during the pandemic while lots of other agencies stopped operating and closed. We became the last post of support to people in the community.”

Funded by Somerset County Council and Somerset Community Foundation, and delivered by Spark Somerset, Reflect, Recover, Renew investigates the impact of Covid-19 and creates a shared vision for the future of the VCSE sector in Somerset.

Commencing in June 2021, this five-month, qualitative project was meticulously researched by Dr Oliver Clabburn who comments, “It has been an honour to design and lead on this piece of research. Somerset is a very special place with loads of amazing people doing fantastic work for their communities. We’re very grateful for the time and honesty of experiences that participants shared throughout the research.”

Two years on, Reflect, Recover, Renew aims to identify the implications of Covid-19 on Somerset’s communities and VCSEs which could help us understand current and future needs.

The conclusions drawn are co-produced with the input and contributions of individual participants from a range of VCSE organisations. In all, 270 people representing 190 separate VCSEs across Somerset shared their experiences and we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this process.

Spark Somerset CEO, Katherine Nolan explains, “Voluntary groups form the backbone of our communities in Somerset - and they stepped up to provide vital support during Covid. Through this research project, working with colleagues from across the VCSE, it has been possible to create the building blocks for a shared vision for what is needed for the sector to renew, as we emerge from the pandemic."

She continues, “But this is only the start. We're looking forward to working with VCSE colleagues over the coming months to support positive change in our communities."

We hope the report will be a useful tool for charity leaders,  community groups, stakeholders, statutory partners and anyone involved in supporting our communities. Please share it with your colleagues and networks and if you'd like to let us know your thoughts, simply send us an email or tweet us @sparksomerset.

If you’re interested in working in partnership with other VCSEs in Somerset to take the five visions identified by this research forward to the next stage, please complete this short form.

Read the Summary online

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Should you require this report in another format please let us know.