New Year resolutions for the local VCSE sector

Helen Oparinde, Development Officer in VAL’s Voluntary Sector Support team looks forward to 2021 and considers what New Year resolutions we may want to consider.

New Year’s resolutions date back over 4,000 years. The ancient Babylon community used the Akitu festival to make promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. The Babylonians believed that if they kept their word, the gods would look favourably on them for the year ahead.
Modern New Year’s resolutions tend to be more concentrated on self-improvement, with people making resolutions to themselves and reflecting on their own goals.


A New Year resolution might be for you to get involved with volunteering. VAL has organised its first Leicester & Leicestershire Virtual Volunteering Fair, which will enable volunteer-involving organisations to promote their volunteering opportunities and give people interested in volunteering a chance to virtually meet organisations to find out how they can get involved as volunteers in Leicester and Leicestershire.

For a VCSE organisation, a New Year resolution might be to review your approach to volunteering frameworks. In December 2020 NCVO posted Diversity and volunteering: Reflections from our latest report. The report looks at diversity and volunteering from the perspective of volunteer-involving organisations, suggesting that:

  • Volunteers should reflect the organisation’s service users – this framework might include organisations that serve a community of interest and would also value volunteers with lived experience related to their mission.
  • Volunteers should reflect the locality or country where the organisation is based – this framework would be based around reflecting the local, regional or national population and would require an organisation to understand the demographics of the community where it is based.

For example, Anita’s journey into volunteering was as a restorative panel member within the youth justice service. Statistics of black children are disproportionately high in the youth justice system and as a panel member Anita felt she could represent her diverse community and help bring an awareness of diversity and discrimination to the panels.

If you would like to consider volunteering, sign up and search for volunteering opportunities.

If your VCSE organisation would like help with taking forward your volunteering framework, send us a message. If you’re using the online form, click on support for your voluntary organisation, in the drop down box.

Charity Excellence Survive and Thrive 2021

One of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions is individuals saving more money or spending less money.

In context to local charities this might mean having a resolution about the financial sustainability of your charity.

2020 brought COVID and, in 2021, we have the new variant and Brexit. At the same time we have the light at the end of the tunnel with a COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The Charity Excellence Survive & Thrive 2021 considers what this year holds for us and what you can do about it. The charity COVID-19 toolkit helps you to consider how to respond to or mitigate threats and exploit opportunities.

The toolkit has 3 parts:

  • Part 1 – What 2021 might hold for the charity sector
  • Part 2 – How to find the emerging opportunities.
  • Part 3 – How to use that to create your recovery strategy.

In part 1, use the sector assessment to identify the issues of most importance to you. In part 2, make effective use of that assessment to produce a fundraising recovery plan. Part 3 helps you to turn the recovery plan into a timetable, budget, and actions needed for the plan to be delivered and progress to be monitored.

Social Value Model

One of the opportunities to consider exploring is the new social value model. This provides opportunities for the VCSE sector to win Government contracts by demonstrating the full extent of the value they would generate.

Within the government’s Procurement Policy Note 06/20, there is a Social Value Model Quick Reference Table, which gives illustrative examples of how tenderers can demonstrate their social value within the themes, these being:

  • Supporting COVID-19 recovery, including helping local communities manage and recover from the impact of COVID
  • Tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience
  • Fighting climate change and reducing waste
  • Driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality Improving health and wellbeing and community integration

A bidder’s social value score will be incorporated into the assessment of contracts.

In addition the government’s commercial function has produced a guide to using the social value model published in December 2020. It includes details on the criteria for awarding score, which may be useful for bid writers.

Everyone In

Whilst 2020 was a difficult year for so many, there maybe things that the local VCSE sector may want to consider to keep doing because it’s been working well.

For example the Everyone In scheme was beneficial to so many and provided a real opportunity to prevent rough sleeping. Falcon Support Services E.M Limited, a charitable company, provides a day centre for the homeless, The Drop In, and they are the contracted Homelessness Supported Accommodation provider for Leicestershire. Close joint working with Local Authorities and partner agencies has enabled timely access to accommodation.

With homelessness set to increase as poverty and unemployment rise and the ban on evictions comes to an end in February, there is a real risk of rough sleeping increasing again. However, with the correct resources and the will to make lasting change and eradicate rough sleeping the charity hopes this can be prevented.

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on what the VCSE sector has to offer and the vital role it plays, working alongside statutory agencies in supporting vulnerable people in our community as a whole, but also during a crisis.

During the first lockdown I wrote a blog titled temporary closure due to lockdown, what does the future look like?, in which, I referred to a funder’s approach of encouraging bidders to consider:

  • What they want to keep doing because it’s been working well
  • What they want to leave behind as they start thinking about moving into recovery and renewal
  • Any new ideas that will help when it comes to rebuilding and renewal

Now that we are in our third national lockdown, your VCSE organisation’s New Year resolution might be to use that approach as you draw up annual budgets and strategic plans for the forthcoming calendar or financial year.

Here‘s hoping that the saying “things go in 3s “will mean this is the last national lockdown we will experience and that your local VCSE organisation survives and thrives in the coming year. If you need any help along the way please get in touch.

Helen Oparinde

Helen Oparinde is a Development Officer for VAL as part of the Voluntary Sector Support team. Helen is an expert in charity governance and provides face-to-face and telephone advice to local charities and community groups. You can contact Helen at