Recognising Norfolk’s Small Charities

Last week’s Small Charities Week saw organisations in Norfolk celebrate and support the invaluable contributions of small charities across the county. The week-long event aimed to shine a light on the vital role of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector in our society, acknowledging their efforts in improving lives, raising awareness of key issues and promoting a spirit of kindness.

tables with information about charities

An event held at The Forum in Norwich showcased small charities across Norfolk (credit James Kearns)

In Norfolk, a group of organisations is working in partnership to support smaller charities across the county, providing advice and help to encourage everything from getting more volunteers to accessing funding. The Empowering Communities Partnership is made up of Voluntary Norfolk, Norfolk Community Foundation, Community Action Norfolk, FUSE and NCAN.

Across the UK, there are over 166,000 voluntary organisations, the majority of them small. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) estimate that 92% of their members are charities with an income under £1 million, and most have an income of under £30,000. Small charities constitute the backbone of the wider VCSE sector, often operating with limited resources yet making a significant impact on local communities.

Challenges facing small charities in Norfolk

In Norfolk it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 VCSE organisations – 3500 registered charities and social enterprises and approximately 6500 ‘under the radar’ groups which do not need to register with the Charity Commission.

However, the sector is facing a challenging set of circumstances, with volunteer numbers down and financial pressures mounting. A report by the NCVO found that approximately 1 in 5 charities were concerned about their very survival largely due to increased demands on their services and cuts to their funding. Research by Voluntary Norfolk also showed that over the past ten years there has been a steady decline in volunteering year on year, apart from a short-lived peak in response to the COVID pandemic.

Nicky Stainton in front of Voluntary Norfolk sign

Nicky Stainton (Voluntary Norfolk)

Nicky Stainton, the Communities Manager at Voluntary Norfolk, said:

“We are incredibly proud of the work that small charities do every day. Their dedication and resilience are truly inspiring. While Small Charities Week is a national awareness week and thus a chance to celebrate their achievements, it is important to recognise and highlight the critical support they provide to millions of people across the UK for 52 weeks a year.”

“As we celebrate Small Charity Week, it is crucial to recognize and support the VCSE sector’s ongoing efforts. In an era marked by economic uncertainty and social challenges, small charities continue to be a lifeline for many, embodying the spirit of compassion and community that in so many ways defines Norfolk.”