Research report offers a vision for the future of Bristol’s Voluntary Sector beyond Covid-19

Black South West Network (BSWN) supported by key partners – VOSCUR and Locality – is launching the final report of a 9-month city-wide research project exploring the response of Bristol’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector to the pandemic and the potential of the sector in the city moving forward.

The report assesses the impact of Covid-19 on the VCSE sector and identifies the dynamic and physical assets that were essential to the Sector’s response to the crisis. Collated within the report are case studies and examples from different parts of the voluntary sector to bring evidence of its high levels of resilience, adaptability and creativity.

Moving beyond the pandemic, the report also formulates seven principles to underpin a collective vision for the VCSE sector’s long-term future. The vision is accompanied by actionable recommendations to develop a One City approach to the sector’s recovery and achievement of the vision.

The research was jointly funded by Power to Change, Bristol City Council and Quartet Community Foundation. It has been overseen by the VCSE Strategy Group, a multi-stakeholder strategic partnership chaired by Deputy Mayor Asher Craig and committed to developing an equitable, city-wide and coordinated framework for the VCSE sector’s recovery.

As we move to confront the economic, health and wellbeing challenges ahead, the research has built on the lessons learned to create evidence for an effective and equitable recovery strategy that will enable the VCSE sector to tackle current and future challenges and move forward as a key actor in the city’s socio-economic environment.

Danielle Cohen, Power to Change, said: “’Designing a New Social Reality’ describes a vision for recovery with communities and the VCSE sector at the heart of it. Community businesses have a vital role to play in building an equitable and inclusive economy for Bristol post-Covid 19 and we are excited to see how the report’s recommendations will be taken forward to support the sector to grow and increase its impact.”

Sado Jirde, Director at BSWN, said: “Through ‘Designing A New Social Reality’, the tectonic plates of society have irreversibly shifted and we have a chance to strive for ‘levelling up’ like never before. Thank you to all those who took the time to contribute, that enriched the process and created a wealth of data about our sector’s realities. It has also been a strong collaborative effort thanks to the sterling contributions and support from the Strategy Group, who guided this research to make it a meaningful journey. We look forward to seeing the changes that emerge from this work. It is in our collective hands to improve the lives in our communities, in our organisations, boards and organisational cultures, and ultimately the Bristol’s VCSE sector overall.”

The full report and the diagram illustrating the vision and recommendations can be found HERE in the reports section at BSWN’s website.


For additional information about this research, please go to the BSWN website.

About BSWN

BSWN is a black-led infrastructure organisation that has worked extensively with minority ethnic communities and strategic agencies across Bristol and the South West to identify racial and socio-economic systemic/structural inequalities and develop solutions for the political and socio-economic environment to be more equitable and inclusive.

About Power to Change

Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector owns assets worth £870m and comprises 11,300 community businesses across England who employ more than 37,000 people. (Source: Community Business Market 2020).

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from The National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.  @peoplesbiz

About The National Lottery Community Fund

We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

Partners supporting the initiative include Bristol City Council, Power to Change Trust, Quartet Community Foundation, VOSCUR, Locality, City Office, City Funds, Clinical Commissioning, Police and Crime Commissioner, The Care Forum, Thomas Pocklington Trust.