This morning I was in the happy position of being able to present our new research into the state of the voluntary sector in Manchester. It has been a long-held ambition of mine to be able to show the full extent of the enormous contribution which voluntary organisations, community groups, social enterprises and the community work of faith groups make to the city.
Like many of the major cities, Manchester is facing the combined effects of recession, public sector spending cuts and long standing deprivation in local communities. The results of our research show that the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector is still working to support people through these difficult times – there's a relentless optimism in our sector. We've pulled out 8 key facts about the sector in Manchester (separate data are available for other boroughs and Greater Manchester as a whole):
- In 2011/12 there were 3093 voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in Manchester.
- In 2011/12 the total income of the sector was £477 million
- Medium and large organisations receive 95% of the total income
- 1987 organisations are 'micro' - i.e. have an annual income of under £10,000
- There are 94,300 volunteers working in the sector in the city.
- Volunteers give 370,000 hours each week.
- The contribution of these volunteers is valued at £332 million each year.
- The sector employs 12,400 full time equivalent paid staff.
Yet the research also shows how much all of this is at risk as pressures increase. There is increasing demand and decreasing resources - look at the impact of welfare reform couple with cuts to advice agencies' funding, for example. One key concern is the "hollowing out" of the sector. We already see that larger organisations are more able to compete for contracts while 'micro' organisations can subsist on small activity budgets: it is the medium sized organisations which are at greatest risk. And yet these are some of our most hard-won community assets, built through years of effort and hard work by trustees, workers and volunteers. I am particularly concerned that this could disporportionately affect BME communities since in deprived areas, these organisations are essential to the life of the community.
One interesting point I noted this morning when comparing our research to the new NCVO Almanac is that nationally the sector's income from the public sector has slightly increased. I think the fact that across Greater Manchester, the sector's income from the public sector has decreased shows the impact of the massive cuts in the funding of Local Government which the Greater Manchester authorities have generally seen.
Macc worked together with partner infrastructure organisations across Greater Manchester to produce this research and all of us had the same shared aim: to produce evidence to tell us what role the sector can play in tacking poverty and improving the quality of life of everyone in the city.
You can download the report below. It's entirely free: all I ask in return is that you think about what you can do to support the voluntary and community groups in your neighbourhood.