Members of Volunteer Centre Hackney's Our Place project

Two in every five Voluntary and Community sector (VCS) workers are concerned about their mental health due to the pandemic. People’s Health Trust has launched a new survey to gather views on the state of mental health within the VCS, focusing on what can support workers in the future.

The results will be used to understand the impact the pandemic has had on people working in the sector. A report published by People’s Health Trust in October 2021 found mental health to be one of the main concerns for community workers and for participants of their projects.

People’s Health Trust funds projects working with people who are already facing the highest levels of disadvantage. People who are already facing discrimination or disadvantage due to shared characteristics or experiences have faced even greater challenges with mental health issues during the pandemic.

One project lead said: “The mental health of young people is a concern. We're hearing more and more from young people about the struggles they are facing and the worries they have for their future as a result of the pandemic.”

The mental health of disabled people and people with learning disabilities was also raised as a prevalent concern due to:

  • An increase in isolation and loneliness for people having to shield;
  • Fear due to a far greater mortality risk;
  • A sense of guilt over feeling like a ‘burden of care’ on their families, who also had to shield;
  • Digital exclusion, which is particularly common amongst people with learning disabilities.

The reasons for communities experiencing greater mental health issues during the pandemic were echoed by VCS workers across different neighbourhoods in Great Britain, and who work with different people.

One respondent said: “A lot of the things that would sustain people – friends, family, social groups, activities – have been removed, whilst economic and social anxiety has increased. It’s hard to think of a group that hasn’t seen overall deterioration in mental health! And that includes our staff.”

The concern is that many community workers are at serious risk of trauma-related burn out, having had to deal with significant trauma in communities and act as a first line of mental health support without any relevant training or support to help them through this.

This new survey will help People’s Health Trust gain a greater understanding of the challenges impacting VCS workers and what support is needed to tackle the growing mental health crisis in this sector.

Make sure your voice is heard - the survey takes around 5 minutes to complete. The survey will close at 5pm on Wednesday 23 February.