Irish charity and community sector calls for action in pandemic recovery

Irish charity and community sector calls for action in pandemic recovery
2021. October
Collaboration
A public awareness campaign was launched to promote the value and impact of the charity and community sector in Ireland.
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Charities and community groups in Ireland have come together to launch the We Act national campaign to put community recovery in the spotlight for the Covid-19 aftermath and promote the value and impact of this sector nationwide.

The public awareness campaign was launched on 27th October, revealing the results of a survey conducted in March 2021 amongst 1000 people aiming to gain insights on the perceptions, experience and understanding of the charity and community sector.

“The Covid-19 crisis brought a renewed public focus on the work of our sector. From support lines for older people to laptops for children in emergency accommodation, when we saw a need in our communities, we responded to it.

The pandemic demonstrated that – in times of real need – charities and community groups are at the forefront of our national response,”

said Sarah Monaghan, We Act spokesperson and Campaigns Manager at The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises.

Launch of the We Act campaign in Ireland to promote the value and impact of the charity and community sector. Image: Naoise Culhane

There are 34,000 organisations in this sector, employing almost 165,000 people and further 1 million volunteers.

Considering the sector's weight, organisers hope to bridge the gap between some of the views raised in the research and create awareness of the value and impact of charities and community groups in Ireland.

Some of the key findings of the public survey:

  • 70% of people believe the lives of people in their communities would be impacted if charities disappeared overnight. Still, just 8% believe they interacted with a charity or community group in the past year.
  • 62% think charities are more likely to be responsive in their services than the public sector, but only 54% think the staff in the charity sector should be paid similarly to those in the public sector.
  • 70% believe an organisation dealing with homelessness is a charity, while only 8% think an arts organisation is a charity. In reality, both can be charities.
  • Over 40% believe those who serve on charity boards are paid a salary. But, in fact, charity board members are unpaid volunteers, and the Charities Regulator stipulates explicitly that board members cannot accept a salary for their role.

The report also found that the public very highly trusts charities and community groups as they were the third most trusted institution in Ireland after schools and An Garda Síochána.

While 73% of the public trust charities and community groups in general, this drops to just 60% for large organisations compared to 78% for small organisations.

The We Act campaign will run over the next three years. Image: Naoise Culhane

Monaghan adds to the survey results: “We saw a shift in values towards equality, justice and supports for the most vulnerable in our communities and across the globe. Now, there needs to be a concentrated effort to ensure the innovation, goodwill and community cohesion continues as we recover from the pandemic.”

The We Act campaign will run over the next three years to address the challenges uncovered in the research.

The main focus in these years will be to support the growth of vibrant and sustainable community life and strengthen the charity and community sector while encouraging more members of the public to engage and participate by volunteering, working, and donating.

The campaign is funded through a grant from RTÉ Does Comic Relief that is distributed by The Community Foundation for Ireland.

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of The Community Foundation for Ireland, said, “The Community Foundation for Ireland works with and supports more than 5,000 voluntary, community and charitable organisations.

There are a million stories of the positive impact they have on families, homes and individuals across Ireland, often out of public view.

We want to see more people working and staying in the sector, more people volunteering and engaging at a community level, more people knowing what services are out there should they need them, and more people feeling part of something positive and bigger than themselves.”

A coalition of charities and community groups, led by Boardmatch, Charities Institute Ireland, the Disability Federation of Ireland, Dóchas, The Wheel and Volunteer Ireland, manages the We Act campaign.

 

Headline image: Naoise Culhane, Photographer


Business Spirit Platform reporting

Business Spirit Platform reporting Author