Gofod 3 - Wales' Annual Gathering

30th June 2022

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By Fiona Liddell, Helpforce manager, Wales

Coordinating voluntary response in an emergency was a key theme at Wales’ annual gathering for the voluntary sector this June.

The event was held online, with a varied programme over the course of a week. It was a valuable time to explore topical themes and to connect with people across public and private bodies too, not only the voluntary sector. Known as Gofod 3, (Gofod is the Welsh word for space) it was organized by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA). Amongst the line up of events were several which focused on volunteering.

The event on emergency voluntary response described the progress of work led by the Red Cross and funded by a Volunteering Wales Strategic grant. Their remit was to review current structures and to recommend a framework for improved collaboration between public, private and voluntary sectors, in order that volunteers can be more effectively deployed in future emergencies.

The framework considers the different phases of a crisis: sometimes (not always), there is a planning phase, followed by the height of emergency and a recovery period. Three types of volunteer have a part to play:

  • volunteers who are emergency focused, trained and equipped to respond 24/7, such as rescue teams. During Covid 19 the experience of many such volunteers is that they were under-used.

  • local volunteers, who have transferable skills, access to equipment and valuable local knowledge. They are available in large numbers through the organisations for which they usually volunteer

  • Spontaneous volunteers, including passers by and neighbours who want to help. The bigger the scale of the emergency the more this response requires careful management, for reasons of both efficiency and safeguarding

A report will be available shortly.

Taking this work forward will involve engagement with stakeholders in national and local resilience for a and gathering of data on local organisations and their capacity, to inform local emergency planning.

Another session at Gofod 3, The value of volunteering in integrated models of care described a new national outcomes framework for health and social care in Wales and explored where volunteering can add value and how we evidence this.

Paddy Hanrahan, Helpforce Strategy and Innovation Director shared some of the findings from Helpforce innovation projects which illustrate particular ways in which volunteers can add value. Speakers from Public Health Wales discussed lessons from their research on community action during the pandemic, the potential of community volunteering in the longer term and the challenges of evaluating community volunteering.