The Charities & Communities Focus Group
The Charities and Communities Focus Group was formed in late 2020 to understand the needs of the charities and communities in Surrey following the COVID pandemic. Although it was recognised that the Group could not help directly with fundraising, it was felt there must be other ways in which the Lieutenancy could provide practical help by bringing together charities to share experience and problems, and by helping to draw attention to some of their shared issues. The Group was under the chairmanship of Jim Glover until he moved from the County. The current members of the Group, under the chairmanship of Richard Whittington, are Peter Lee, Nick Wood-Dow, Louise O’Connor, Caroline Breckell, Neelam Devesher (also representing Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum), John Downing, chief executive of Surrey Care Trust, Jo Cookes, collaboration manager of Surrey Youth Focus and Nick Bragger, head of Communities and Development, Surrey Community Action.
In 2021 we sent out a series of questions via Survey Monkey to charities and communities in Surrey. The key findings of this survey were that while charities had survived the pandemic they needed help in relation to funding, volunteers and trustees.
In September 2022 the Group organised a conference at Surrey County Council’s offices which was widely attended by charities across the county. Our assessment of the conference results and of ways in which the Group may be able to be helpful is underway. In the light of these results we shall follow up with a further conference of charities next year. We are also exploring the possibility of bringing together interested parties for a conference on the problem of mental health in young people as a result of the pandemic.