For many, 2020 has been a year to forget; but for us, it’s a little different.
PCVS was set up in 1980 by the great Les Bright, making this year our 40th anniversary. Les’ vision was to create an organisation that helps charities and volunteer-led groups to support local communities, improving lives for thousands across the city.
40 years on, this vision has never been more important than now.
Covid-19 has caused unimaginable disruption to everyday life, leaving individuals and even entire communities feeling vulnerable and isolated – both in Peterborough and the rest of world. It’s been a time of immense change, most of it difficult and some of it very painful. But from the chaos left in the wake of the pandemic, we’ve seen shoots of growth and hope.
Before the virus, the voluntary sector in Peterborough was made up of a lot of individual organisations working to deliver their own different objectives. But the hugely challenging circumstances we find ourselves in have helped to unite these groups, bringing them together to work towards a common goal: supporting our communities.
We’ve also seen the emergence of numerous new support groups popping up across the city, as well as existing groups starting new initiatives. These include:
- Family Action, a charity that provides families with support on a range of issues, including financial hardship, mental health problems and social isolation. During lockdown, Family Action started offering new services, such as support with shopping and food delivery
- Community First, a charity that’s responded to community needs during the pandemic by offering delivery of emergency supplies, including milk, bread and fresh fruit and veg
- Compas has been supporting Peterborough residents since 2010, working towards building cohesion between migrant and local communities. The charity has been very active during the covid-19 pandemic, providing everything from basic food and hygiene supplies, to online cooking classes
- Paston Farm Community Foundation was forced to close during the pandemic but the Foundation’s manager kept the Paston Farm Community Fridge open, helped by donations from a local Sainsbury’s branch, to ensure they were still able to support local residents in need
- Food for Nought, a food distribution supply chain that provides supplies to other groups offering delivery. Its service has been invaluable in the push to support vulnerable members of the community during the pandemic
- Disability Peterborough is a charity that supports residents with physical and sensory impairments, their carers and families. During the pandemic, the charity has been proactively reaching out to all its members to offer support with any issues they may be experiencing
- Beat This, a not-for-profit music and arts organisation that provides creative experiences for people of all ages with additional needs. The organisation received funding from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to provide online music classes during lockdown
With organic growth flourishing at grassroots level, there’s never been a better time to expand the voluntary sector in Peterborough. We want to take this unique opportunity and run with it, by creating fertile ground where individual organisations can thrive and continue to provide incredible support for the communities they serve – today and for the next 40 years.
We also want to encourage more diversity in our own industry – a recent report found minority groups to be severely underrepresented in senior positions at the 50 leading charities in the UK. By encouraging inclusivity right at the top, we hope to create a fairer and more cohesive Peterborough, with local charities that are better able to understand what it means to be part of a minority group and better equipped to provide the right support for all our citizens.
Aside from having a deeper understanding of the communities we serve, the benefits of a truly diverse sector are extensive and can lead to improved overall performance, more innovation and increased creativity.
There were a number of well-attended, peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Peterborough, a clear sign that the city is motivated and engaged to create a fairer world – so now is the perfect time for change.
Together, we’re greater than the sum of our parts and now, more than ever, Peterborough feels united. So, if you’re a local charity or community group, we’d urge you to get in touch to see how we can help you help others.
For more information, email [email protected].