The Social Impacts of COVID-19 on the Non-Profit Sector in South England

Thu, 10 Feb 2022 19:00 in Discussion Forums

Venue: Online
Date: Thursday, 10 February 2022
Time: 19:00-20:00

  • Lena Bheeroo, Engagement & Equity Manager, Bond; Committee Member and Organiser, #CharitySoWhite
  • Caron Bradshaw OBE, CEO, Charity Finance Group
  • Laura Price, CEO, Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA)
  • Jess Sumner, CEO, Community Works Brighton
  • Cheriesse Bema-Kwakye, Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator, Dialogue Society


The pandemic hit the third sector hard like many other sectors. Fundraising events were cancelled, charity shops closed, face-to-face fundraising became impossible. Moreover, donors became increasingly concerned about their economic position, further reducing charities' income. All the while the economic fallout of the pandemic more than doubled the demand for some of their services. Yet, volunteers worked hard to meet the increased need for their services, often coming up with creative ways to carry on fundraising and helping those in need in accordance with government restrictions. Despite facing similar struggles of financial difficulties and the closure of spaces, faith communities have also risen above and displayed their resilience.

Research led by the Nottingham Trent University, the National Council for Voluntary Organizations (NCVO), and Sheffield Hallam University revealed that the impact of the pandemic has been “uneven and unpredictable”. While nearly a third (31%) of respondents had reported an increase in total income since last year, 47% said income had dropped (Nottingham Trent University, Sheffield Hallam University, and NCVO, 2021). The research also underlines that while the pandemic has put the sector under immense pressure, individual charities' experiences vary widely - while 43% of respondents have reduced their range of services since March 2020, 37% have widened their range of services (ibid.).

With a specific focus on the sociological impacts on the third sector in the South of England, this panel discussion aims to facilitate a dialogue discussing changes and possible difficulties faced during the pandemic, to synthesise and present practical, workable solutions.


Nottingham Trent University, Sheffield Hallam University and NCVO (2021) Online: [Accessed: January 2022].


Lena Bheeroo leads the anti-racism work at Bond and the wider decolonising sector work, working with members and global partners, initiatives and movements. She is a co-author of the Bond Racism, power and truth: Experience of people of colour in international development report.

Prior to joining Bond, Lena led on events at the Charity Finance Group across the regions, delivered on the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands as well as delivering programmes with partners in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Kenya and Uganda. Lena has a Masters in Nationalism and Politics from University of Edinburgh.

Lena is a trustee of EachOther, a working group member of the Racial Equity Index, a group of BIPOC volunteers based around the world, working to build a racial equity index to hold the global development sector to account. Lena is also a Committee Member and Organiser at Charity So White, the award-winning campaign which aims to root out racism from the UK charity sector.

Caron Bradshaw OBE joined Charity Finance Group in 2010 from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) where she was Head of the Charity and Voluntary Sector. In addition to supporting a number of small charities and community organisations Caron has been a member of the National Council for Voluntary Organisation's National Assembly and the Charities Statement Of Recommended Practice Committee, has sat on a number of governmental working parties, is a member of the Church of England Pension Board's Audit and Risk Committee, and is Chair of the Board of the Directory of Social Change (and her local hockey club). She was named in the top 30 UK social influences in Risk, Compliance and Regtech 2017.

Caron is a trained Barrister and has a wide array of experience across the charity, regulation/law, policy, member support, and professional ethics. In 2015 she was named Charity Principal of the Year at the Charity Times Awards. In 2016 she received the Association Excellence Award for Leadership. Caron is an avidly 'social' CEO and was been named in the top 30 social CEOs in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Caron was honoured with an OBE for 'services to charity' in the New Year's Honours list 2021.

Laura Price joined OCVA on 2nd November having represented Oxfordshire for several years as a local councillor during which time she has established links with charities and voluntary organisations in the County, helping support local communities and volunteers in their work and the challenges they currently face.

Jess Summer, during 12 years as a VCSE CEO with several organisations and over 20 years working in the VCSE sector, has worked with stakeholders and navigated between her own organisation’s strategic vision and agendas/requirements set by; unitary and two tier local authorities (including Adult Social Care, Public Health, Housing), health structures, national bodies and regulatory requirements (Financial Conduct Authority, Advice Quality Standards). She has also worked within organisations that are part of a federated structure, and created working relationships at a national and local level to bring together those agendas which did not always easily connect.

Jess has worked to increase the strategic impact of the VCSE in Brighton and Hove and Adur and Worthing. As well as being a founding member and the Chair of an Alliance of support organisations working across West Sussex, she is also involved in the development of the West Sussex Voluntary and Community Infrastructure Alliance and redesigned the collaborative delivery of VCSE infrastructure across West Sussex.

Jess acted as VCSE lead for Sussex ICS, driving the design of a new model with the ICS lead, securing funding from NHS England and from the ICS to integrate VCSE leaders with Health systems. She is currently working with others on a design that accommodates systems leadership with health leads, but also strengthens the need for funded representation from small and large VCSE organisations, utilising existing partnership structures rather than overlaying new structures. Throughout this work, she has been building relationships across Sussex with peers to ensure collaborative work.

Cheriesse Bema-Kwakye is a Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator at the Dialogue Society. Prior to joining the Dialogue Society, she held roles in fundraising, marketing, and campaigning in charity organisations which operate both internationally and locally.

Cheriesse holds a BA (Hons) in Human Geography and Environment from the University of York and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Development Studies from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As a Human Geographer and sustainable development professional, she has strong interests in decolonial political geographies, critical geopolitics, feminist political ecologies, and environmental peace-building.