The importance of research
Research and reports provide a powerful means of articulating the contribution voluntary and community organisations makes to addressing urgent social issues affecting communities. Newcastle and Gateshead’s voluntary and community sector makes a significant difference to the lives of many people, especially those who experience some form of physical, social or financial exclusion. We work with our members and others to produce reports, under our own name as well as working with other agencies and researchers, and also contributing to local, regional and national research. Listed below are recent reports published by Newcastle CVS that cover a variety of social justice issues.
Taking theTemperature 2016
Newcastle CVS recent study on the state of play of the voluntary and community sector in Newcastle. Funding up or down, more or less staff, more services, more users and greater anxieties.
Feeling Good…is a snapshot report of voluntary sector work to improve emotional wellbeing and mental health in the city. It describes the improvement and change that takes place when people take part in voluntary sector services and activities. A collective picture of the essential scaffolding built by the voluntary sector in Newcastle is portrayed.
Thirty two organisations took part in the survey, a third of whom worked with children and young people.
Voluntary sector work on improving emotional wellbeing and mental health spans a very, very wide range:
- Some organisations offer intensive therapeutic support or nursing care, therapy and counselling.
- There is group work, one to one work, telephone and internet advice and support.
- Many organisations support emotional wellbeing in communities as much as with individuals, creating a community resilience which protects against mental ill health and help people with illness recover.
- Their community activities include peer support, building trusted relationships, signposting, information and advice, accessible activities such as cooking, gardening, sports and hobbies, being outside, and making art and music.
The key is being human, creating belonging, social networks, and community connections.
Giving and giving back, by being involved as volunteers, peer supporters, designing better services, and running community activities along with other people does in itself create better emotional wellbeing. Giving is recognised as one of the actions that promote wellbeing in the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, which are evidence-based actions which promote people’s wellbeing: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
Some organisations offer support to those people with diagnosis of mental health illness; others offer emotional support to all. Making a distinction between those people who need emotional support and those who don’t can be impossible especially at vulnerable times such as the teenage years of transition.
The change, improvements and impact reported by the organisations, made when people used the organisations’ services or took part in their activities included:
- Better management of condition
- Reduction in symptoms / distress / trauma
- Accessing other support and services
- Connected to community / less loneliness / friends
- Developing progression through life course
- Practical problems resolved – housing, debt, school attendance
- Confidence, motivation, self esteem
The top five challenges in Newcastle facing people in improving emotional wellbeing and mental health identified by the voluntary organisations were:
- Poverty / financial worries / no bus fares for appointments describes the biggest challenge
- Access / getting referred / right service at right time, right venue came a close second in importance
- Isolation / Friendships / sense of belonging / loneliness
- Lack of services / cuts and funding reduction
- Systems, services and professionals not delivering appropriately for ‘real life’ clients
Feeling Good concludes that:
- Voluntary organisations report that the demand for their services and activities to support emotional wellbeing and mental health is increasing.
- The voluntary sector clearly provides a number of routes, both formal and informal, that improve wellbeing and often in a non-stigmatising way, but which would be unlikely to be suitable for formal procurement. So other commissioning mechanisms should be explored.
- There is mental health expertise and innovation in the voluntary sector.
- The models of statutory sector delivery rest on the assumption that there are thriving voluntary and community sector activities and services which support people, build community resilience, and reduce the use of statutory sector services. The recognition and valuing of non-specialist voluntary sector provision should be more explicit.
- But sustainability and just keeping things going is a struggle for many organisations. There is concern that organisations may begin to falter or disappear which would make the situation for individuals and the system much worse.
- Joint discussion and co-production is needed to support and sustain voluntary sector services and activities.
As part of the Council’s desire to meet the challenges of 2020, it commissioned Newcastle CVS to produce a report on the current position of the voluntary and community sector, the support it needs and uses now, and looking to the future in 2020. In order to ensure independence, Newcastle CVS commissioned SkillsBridge to carry out interviews with local voluntary organisations.
These reports look at the position of Newcastle and its current challenges. The reports have a number of separate elements – interviews with 29 key public sector leaders, 20 local voluntary and community organisations, 10 key support (infrastructure) organisations, a survey of 71 local organisations and a background review of the key policies affecting the voluntary and community sector locally and nationally. The result is the most comprehensive study carried out for many years on behalf of the voluntary and community sector in Newcastle.
Charities at the crossroads
‘Charities at the crossroads’ looks at the experiences of voluntary sector organisations of delivering public services and asks are there different ways for the sector to be involved in public service delivery.
The report finds common ground in the aims of the voluntary and public sector in providing services for those individuals and communities who most rely on them, especially health and social care services. However the effect of continuing change within the public sector as a result of new policies that create new governance and delivery structures along with continuing cuts to budgets makes it increasingly difficult for the voluntary sector to maintain a productive relationship with the public sector bodies; particularly as the report highlights the essential role of individual officers in creating links and promoting within their own agencies, the values and skills of the voluntary sector.
‘Charities at the crossroads’ touches on different ways of organising the relationship between voluntary organisations and public sector bodies to move away from the transactional procedures of the current commissioning model and create a more balanced and equitable approach to managing relations and service delivery.
Transition MADE reports
A Newcastle Children’s Trust Making A Difference Event about the difference MADE to enable young people to make a good transition. Transition MADE was held in November 2015 @ Excelsior Academy 6th Form College. The event included fast and focused four minute talks followed by discussion groups, films made by young people, and promises made by participants.
Reports from 2015
- Our Lives 2015: poverty in modern Britain
- Building a Picture 2015: the voluntary sector and children and young people
- Key voluntary sector facts 2015
- Paint a canvas: voluntary organisations' work with older people in Newcastle
- Newcastle CVS consultation response: charity fundraising self-regulation
- Taking the Temperature 2015: the state of play in Newcastle's voluntary sector
- Good Intentions 2015: neighbourhood groups in Newcastle
Reports from 2014
- Working together in Newcastle: clinical commissioning groups and the VCS
- Below the Waterline: conversations with voluntary and community organisations in Walker
- A Stitch in Time: conversations with voluntary organisations working with children and young families in Newcastle
- Poverty Report Summary
- Key facts about the voluntary and community sector in Newcastle
Reports from 2013
- The Big Squeeze: the impact of welfare reforms in Newcastle
- Getting together in Newcastle: clinical commissioning groups and the VCS
- Taking the temperature: the state of play in the voluntary and community sector in Newcastle
- Close to the edge: people with physical disabilities and sensory issues in Newcastle
- Measuring impact: a wellbeing and health open forum report
- Surviving or thriving?: tracking the impact of spending cuts on the North East's sector - Newcastle study
Reports from 2012
- Frozen in the headlights: being poor in Newcastle
- Food for thought: food bank provision in Newcastle
- The value of neighbourhood based organisations: working with children and young people in Newcastle
- Community development as an intervention: improving the wellbeing and health of communities
- Surviving or thriving: tracking the impact of spending cuts on Newcastle's third sector
- NHS changes: winners and losers in the voluntary and community sector
- Changing times: women's organisation in Newcastle: a study of the current changes for women's voluntary organisations