Volunteers double their efforts in Brighton and Hove, report finds

Posted On 20 Dec 2014 at 8:45 am

Volunteers give up almost twice as many hours in Brighton and Hove as they did six years ago, according to a report published yesterday (Thursday).

Taking Account 3 – the third survey of the local community and voluntary sector – said volunteers gave up more 110,000 hours a week last year. This compares with 57,000 hours a week when Taking Account 2 analysed charities and community groups in 2008.

The latest report said that the “third sector” – made up of more than 2,300 organisations – was worth about £127 million to the local economy. The thriving sector attracts money to Brighton and Hove from trusts and charities based elsewhere.

The Taking Account report was put together by Brighton and Hove Community Works, which supports and represents community and voluntary groups and charities.

It said that about 6,900 people work in the third sector in Brighton and Hove, which is 6 per cent of the total number of jobs in the city.

Community Works chief executive Sally Polanski said: “Taking Account enables Community Works to represent the full value of the local voluntary and community sector to our partners, locally and beyond.

“The sector is complex in its diversity, at times challenging to understand, and to have a strong set of data and case studies which tells our story is very powerful.

“We are grateful to our members for taking the time to supply the information needed and welcome the discussions and debate stimulated by the research.”

The chief operating officer of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group Geraldine Hoban said: “The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recognises the value of the third sector in its many differing roles.

“Whether this is supporting individuals, providing services, ensuring service user/carer voices are heard and/or supporting the statutory sector in making sure local services are responsive and effective.

“This report enables us to see how the third sector contribute to a number of the CCG’s priorities (for example, supporting those who are “frail”) that is those with complex health/social care and social needs, those who are homeless, and also how organisations are supporting people to self-manage their health and wellbeing.

“The CCG is committed to working with third sector organisations in the best possible way, including smaller community and neighbourhood schemes, and welcomes the chance to learn from this as a way of helping inform our future commissioning.”

The data highlights the continuing challenges that face the sector. And the report includes recommendations for action to ensure that the organisations involved can continue to provide the services that make such a positive contribution to the community.

Some 55 per cent of organisations say that the number of people they support has increased in the past year.

The majority of respondents said that their main activities were empowering people to improve the quality of their life (42 per cent) and bringing people together (23 per cent).

Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership executive director Tony Mernagh​ said: “The third sector is an incredibly strong force for good in the city.

“It is also a strong contributor to the local economy delivering hard cash and jobs on a scale that equals the digital industries in the private sector.

“It also provides opportunities for over 27,000 volunteers whose monetary contribution to the economy has been estimated at £44million per annum but whose overall contribution to the fabric of our society is invaluable.”

The director of the Community University Partnership Programme (Cupp) Dave Wolff said: “This important report illustrates the reach and significance of the third sector in Brighton and Hove.

“It was produced by a partnership that brought together the council, the health sector, the private sector and University of Brighton to pool expertise with Community Works.

“It shows both the extent of the sector’s work and the particular impact that a sample of individual services have with the communities they work with.”

The research has been supported by Brighton University, Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Brighton-based Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion (OCSI).

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