Recommendations for Guernsey’s voluntary and charitable sector to be published at end of July 2011

June 25th, 2011 by University of Bristol

A University of Bristol study into Guernsey’s voluntary and charitable sector has revealed a picture of a ‘generous island’ but a need for greater partnership with the island’s government and more co-ordination of its activities.

The report, a summary of which was published on 22 June, recommends a sharing of ideas and skills through an umbrella body with a volunteering strategy. It also urges a broader political debate about the sector’s role and its need for funding.

The research, led by Dr Sarah Cemlyn from the University’s School for Policy Studies, was commissioned by the recently-formed Guernsey Community Foundation – set up to promote philanthropy and charitable giving, and improve the island community and the lives of people most in need.

One of the study’s key findings is the current under-resourcing of the sector, encompassing funding, staffing (paid and voluntary), premises, IT and information, which must be addressed to develop strategies that respond to the needs of excluded groups.

It adds that an umbrella body could advocate on behalf of the sector, support the sector’s engagement in strategy and policy development, provide a liaison channel and contact point for States of Guernsey departments and deputies, and for organisations outside Guernsey. This recommendation reflects the 89 per cent of respondents who see the solution to be partnership between the sector and the States rather than either acting alone.

The research also finds that there is a wide range of excluded groups in Guernsey, including marginalised young people, isolated older people, health-related groups, disabled people, people affected by poverty, those involved in the criminal justice system and people from ethnic, sexual and other minorities.

The study states, ‘The central responsibility for ensuring resources to meet the needs of socially excluded groups rests with the States of Guernsey,” – adding that these resources “may be developed in partnership with the voluntary and charitable sector and the private sector.’

One particular recommendation directed at the business sector suggests that employers should be encouraged to support and reward volunteering by employees.

Among other things, the study says housing inadequacies need to be addressed; more locally-based accessible community centres should be provided, funded by the States but run by local charitable organisations, with community development support for the most excluded communities.

Guernsey should also have a “Funder Finder” system, whereby transparent accessible data is available regarding funding opportunities from private trusts and the eligibility criteria they use.

The study concludes that Guernsey’s voluntary and charitable sector is varied and vibrant, strong and resilient, and flexible, independent and creative. It applauds the sector’s ability to mobilise volunteers and raise funds, and confirms a picture of a “generous island.”

However, it notes the small scale of many organisations, and highlights the difficulties they face working with each other and with the States of Guernsey. It finds statistical and other information is inadequate, whether about the issues, the sector itself or the work done by the States of Guernsey, and recommends the development of equality legislation and training to underpin social inclusion.

An additional problem is the demand for increased professionalism in the sector – providing accounts, meeting tighter health and safety standards, adopting best practice and measuring performance. This must all be done at a time when resources are under pressure and qualified personnel may not be available.

The ten-month study was based on nine focus groups, six from the voluntary and charitable sector and three involving representatives of key States of Guernsey departments, together with a detailed questionnaire sent to 200 voluntary and charitable sector organisations.

The full study will be published on the University of Bristol website at the end of July.

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