It would be so obvious to use my final blog of 2020, to reflect on the many issues and obstacles the sector has had to overcome in the last 12 months – not least because of Covid.
I could leave you reminded of the challenges, the consequences and the complications…but I’d much rather not.
Because in just a few weeks’ time, we’ll be entering a new year, and with it will come the need for a new burst of energy and optimism with which we can take our sector into what we hope will be a ‘recovery’ chapter.
And that, in my opinion, is where so much of our thoughts should now be focused.
It’s those two words which should be in our minds as we think about how we get our sector back to full capacity and thriving throughout the year ahead.
Community Action Suffolk has been speaking to members continuously through the recent weeks and months, and we are all too aware that the county’s many and varied community-run groups will need our support in beginning to feel confident enough to reopen their doors to provide their activities as they once did before the pandemic.
Thankfully, many of those very groups have now, as a result of Covid, become even more resourceful, innovative and capable than they might have considered themselves to be 12 months ago, whilst others have had to take the decision to cease operating and are waiting until it is safe to reopen.
There’s no escaping the fact groups have seen finances dwindle with fundraising and income shortfalls, but at the same time, they will have developed digital skills at a pace we hadn’t anticipated, or found means of connectiveness to their beneficiaries which would otherwise have been at least 5 years away from development.
To my mind, this paints a picture of a sector which holds great opportunity and desire.
There really could never be a better moment to start thinking about spending time supporting the needs of Suffolk people.
Like me, you’ll have been seeing the heartening stories of the vaccine rollout, and what that represents for our lives in 2021.
We’ve already been humbled by the level of volunteering and the generosity of spirit in recent months, but now we need to see more of this – to aid the county’s requirement for the vaccine programme; to get the doors of community groups open again; or to continue to minimise the sense of loneliness we know so many still feel.
I would urge everyone to become familiar with the Volunteer Suffolk website, as this will become a vital recruitment portal for the specific roles and requirements we envisage being necessary in the weeks ahead.
For those of you considering or planning to restart that important community lunch club, parent and toddler group or other much valued resource, please do get in touch and allow us to support you through that process so that you are ready, when and only when, it is safe to do so.
And finally, if you’d like to talk to me about opportunities you have in your community group, or you want to discuss getting your staff or neighbourhood involved in proactive 2021 volunteering support, please, do drop me an email and I can refer you to the right member of my team.
You can reach me on [email protected]