A joint report published today celebrates the work of charities, social enterprises, and community organisations ahead of International Day of Charity on Sunday 5 September.

The research led by Professor Tony Chapman, Durham University examined the structure, dynamics, and impact of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector across the area. It highlights the big contribution made to the economy and the health and wellbeing of people who live here.

The report was was published in partnership by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP), Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, and Community First Yorkshire.

The VCSE sector in West Yorkshire and Harrogate includes around 14,900 registered and unregistered groups supporting people in many areas of their lives such as youth groups, ageing well support, sports and wellbeing clubs. The sector employs around 43,100 full time equivalent posts, which makes up 3.7% of employment across the area.

There are also an estimated 147,000 regular volunteers giving their time and energy to help people to live their best life possible, 365 days per year.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said: ‘The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector does amazing work across the region. I’m extremely thankful for all the support they offer to people living across West Yorkshire, especially those local unsung heroes who often give up their free time to volunteer in their communities whether it’s coaching a community sports team, teaching at a young people’s theatre group, or helping at a local foodbank. The sector gives invaluable support to those who wouldn’t otherwise receive it and it is right the report sets out the hard work and commitment of individuals working in the sector who regularly share their life experience to help others – it’s commendable and each organisation and every person has my heartfelt thanks and support’.

Jo-Anne Baker, WY&H HCP Harnessing the Power of Communities Lead said: ‘The sector is larger than the finance and insurance industries, and larger than the arts, entertainment and recreation sector. The significant contribution made by the VCSE sector to people’s health and community wellbeing is evidenced throughout the research. This not only contributes to financial savings for the NHS and other public services but produces immediate benefits for thousands and thousands of people accessing their help and support’.

The report acknowledges it is hard to measure the total social, community and existence impact. Based on available data, this equates to approximately £1.6 billion per year. If taken alongside the economic value of the sector, this means the total added value of the sector is between £5.2 billion and £6.2 billion per year in West Yorkshire and Harrogate alone.

The use of conventional metrics on productivity only partially captures the value of the sector because the benefit to communities and difference made to people’s lives is unmeasurable.

Civil society is strong in the UK. The hard-won rights of people which underpin civil society, many in place for centuries, make its existence fundamental to the culture and way we live.

Hilary Thompson, Senior Responsible Officer for WY&H HCP’s Harnessing the Power of Communities Programme said: ‘When something is so deeply embedded in society, there is a tendency to take it for granted – perhaps even see it as ‘normal’ and thereby diminish the value of its significance. But if the work of the VCSE sector was not valued by the community – it would not exist. This report demonstrates the unique and intrinsic value of the sector and volunteers to the health and wellbeing of people – it is a sector that must be taken seriously, and one we should never take for granted.

You can read the report at https://bit.ly/3suNzyV.