NEWS: Community groups in a crisis: insights from the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic

New research by community charity Groundwork has examined the worrying impact that Covid-19 had on community groups during the last six months and what this might mean as we enter a second lockdown.

The charity is urging that more be done to enable community groups to provide well-funded, tailored support to their local community as part of plans to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and prepare for the recovery.

The ‘Community groups in a crisis: insights from the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic’ report has examined the effect that Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions have had on community groups and their local delivery, including how groups have adapted and responded to the needs of their local community and how they might be empowered and supported to continue to work in the current climate and when we enter a recovery phase.

The report looks at the experiences of small community organisations and grassroots volunteer-led groups supporting their communities in a wide range of ways, from Friends of Parks groups to sports clubs, community choirs to specialised support services.

Key findings

The report found that over 60% of groups have been forced to close or decrease their services, despite 67% saying there is more need in their communities.

Covid-19 has also had a severe effect on funding streams, with 80% of groups reporting to have lost income and less than half of respondents saying that they feel very or extremely confident about continuing in future.

Community groups have also made the case for the importance of developing long-term funding streams, with over 80% wanting more access to grant funding.

Positives of the report show that 84% of groups are still confident that they could help their communities to recover with the right support and are keen to work alongside local authorities and businesses to make this happen.

Key report statistics

–           62% have decreased or closed services

–           67% say there is more need in their communities

–           80% of community groups have lost income

–           45% are very or extremely confident about continuing in future

–           64% have fewer active volunteers

–           84% want more access to grant funding

The report has also highlighted the creativity and resourcefulness of community groups during the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes showing evidence of collaboration with other organisations and how they have adapted their services to ensure that they can still support people, especially when it comes to health and wellbeing. This includes ensuring individuals are still connected via online communication and that local people have access to food and other essentials.

Findings also show the increased need for support in more disadvantaged communities, which have seen an increased demand for emergency grants and a focus on ensuring vulnerable groups were looked after, including children and young people, older people, socially isolated people, low income households, and people with disabilities.

Graham Duxbury, national chief executive, Groundwork, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the positive power of community action, but the voluntary groups and organisations we rely on for a vast range of local services have been massively impacted by restrictions.  Just as we continue to help businesses through the crisis we need to recognise that this ‘social infrastructure’ of community organisations also needs support.  If we want to ‘build back better’ then having a thriving network of organisations able to help keep our neighbourhoods safe, healthy and green needs to be a critical part of the plan.”

Read the report 

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact or call 07793844627.

About Groundwork 
Groundwork is a charity working locally and nationally to transform lives in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. We’re passionate about creating a future where every neighbourhood is vibrant and green, every community is strong and able to shape its own destiny and no one is held back by their background or circumstances. We help people gain confidence and skills, get into training and work, protect and improve green spaces, lead more active lives and overcome significant challenges such as poverty, isolation, low skills and poor health.

About the report 
This research draws on three sources of information: a survey of 2,658 community groups conducted in June 2020, in-depth telephone interviews with representatives of 103 community groups, and analysis of data about activities supported through the Tesco Bags of Help Covid-19 Community Fund between April and September 2020.