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Whilst the Third Sector has always played an important role in our society, never has this been more admirably demonstrated that over the last 12 months. I am delighted to present the Third Sector Scheme Annual Report 2020 to 2021 setting out the Welsh Government’s actions to support the sector whilst recognising the sector’s invaluable contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I would like to reflect for a few moments on the amazing response of volunteers and the sector throughout the pandemic. In particular, the willingness I saw to adapt services and work with other partners such as their local authorities to keep the people of Wales as safe as possible. This comes as no surprise to me.

The Third Sector in Wales has a history of stepping up in a crisis and often going above and beyond what we can imagine; I cannot thank you enough.

Throughout the pandemic the sector continued to deliver crucial services to our communities across a huge range of areas from Advice and Advocacy services, Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Health and Social Care, Older People, the list goes on, despite uncertainties over income caused by diminished opportunities for fundraising.

Which is why the Welsh Government acted quickly to secure an additional £32 million to support the Third Sector through this crisis.

The pandemic also highlighted the importance of sustained investment in infrastructure which supports the sector. In particular platforms such as Funding Wales and Volunteering Wales are supported by Third Sector Support Wales which comprises 19 County Voluntary Councils and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).

However, as the year closes, we continue to face unprecedented challenges. The pandemic has shown us that by working together we can create a Wales where people, and communities, have the resources and support they need to thrive.

With this in mind, I started a process with the Third Sector Partnership Council (TSPC) while we were still in the depths of the crisis, to look at what role the Third Sector should play in our recovery, and how it could be supported to play that role.

This work identified 3 key areas (relationships,support and volunteering) where we can maximise the advantages from the positive shifts we’ve seen. In particular, we see volunteering, partnership working, and local action bringing real benefits in the medium and long term. 

The principles of inclusion, joint working and social justice will remain at the heart of our work, recognising and celebrating the diversity of perspectives and experiences in Wales. We will not be able to deliver these aims without the extensive expertise, insight and capability in the sector. 

Finally, I thank each and every volunteer and voluntary organisation who has helped and continues to help the people of Wales through this difficult situation. Together we can help people through the challenges both old and new that we now face.

Jane Hutt MS
Minister for Social Justice

View from the Sector and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action

In 2020 to 2021, one of the most difficult periods in modern history, the voluntary sector and volunteers indisputably demonstrated how vital their work is. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country, voluntary and community organisations of all shapes and sizes stepped up to ensure provision of those vital services on which so many people rely.

At a local level, organisations helped people get online, assisted with shopping deliveries and prescription collections, developed befriending services for people who were isolated and provided vital transport for those who found it difficult to attend vaccination appointments. They played a vital role in shaping and delivering support for those asked to shield and subsequently made a major contribution to the provision of Protect support as part of the overall Test Trace Protect programme, supporting people to self-isolate safely and effectively. At a regional level, the sector worked with local authorities and statutory bodies to coordinate efforts and ensure that those who needed services received them. Nationally, WCVA worked with the Welsh Government and was proud to administer the Third Sector Resilience fund, which made such a difference to charities and voluntary organisations at such a crucial time. Meanwhile, the social media campaign #NeverMoreNeeded highlighted the value of civil society action, both in Wales and across the whole of the UK. All this at a time when the voluntary sector found itself even more stretched in terms of resources and were forced to move many services online, a whole new way of working for many of us.

Other pressing issues continued. The climate and nature emergency was an increasing concern, with sector organisations continuing to work with communities on local nature projects, allotments, tree planting and community energy schemes. Organisations continued to assist those facing poverty, a situation often exacerbated by the pandemic. Amid all this, the sector also had to adapt to the changing funding landscape following the UK’s exit from the European Union, a move that is certain to cause a significant long-term impact, while trying to ensure that this did not have a negative effect on the services they can provide.

Despite moving online, the sector continued its invaluable engagement with Welsh Government under the unique Third Sector Scheme, through both the Third Sector Partnership Council, chaired by Jane Hutt MS, the Minister for Social Justice, and the ministerial meeting networks facilitated by WCVA. The requirement to “hard wire” the lessons in moving to a more meaningful business as usual relationship between the voluntary and public sectors was reinforced in several official settings by Ministers, members of the Senedd and local authority partners. 

This year, the TSPC produced its recovery report to build on the examples of good work from the sector during the pandemic. The report focused on 3 key areas, sustaining the surge in volunteering, relationships with government and public bodies, and support for the sector to recover, and proposed new ways of working together, priorities for the key Third Sector Support Wales infrastructure partnership, and funding for strategic projects.

The role of the County Voluntary Councils and the Third Sector Support Wales network was highlighted time and time again. Investment in this social infrastructure connecting local and national organisations demonstrated its value, supporting community action, improving responses and increasing resilience.

Third Sector Support Wales launched its Knowledge Hub in October 2020. The Knowledge Hub is an innovation that allows voluntary organisations across the country to easily access, for free, a range of online information and learning and networking opportunities. By April 2021, there were 888 registered users, accessing over 80 information sheets and 9 e-learning courses. We hope to see this number grow over the coming months and years and look forward to seeing the results of the learning positively impact communities across the country.

Recovery from the pandemic may take many years, and its impact felt way into the future. We are incredibly proud of the role the sector has played so far in the battle against COVID-19. It is vital that it is supported to continue this work for the benefit of the generations to come.

Peter Davies CBE. Chair, WCVA
Ruth Marks MBE. Chief Executive Officer, WCVA

Purpose and background of the Third Sector Scheme

What is the Third Sector?

The Third Sector spans virtually every facet of human interest. It includes community organisations, self-help groups, voluntary organisations, charities, faith-based organisations, social enterprises, community businesses, housing associations, co-operatives and mutual organisations to name only a few.

The Third Sector comes in a range of institutional forms, including registered and unregistered charities, companies limited by guarantee (which may also be registered charities), community interest companies, industrial and provident societies and unincorporated associations. Each organisation has its own aims, distinctive culture, set of values and way of doing things, but they all share some important characteristics, which are shown below.

The Third Sector spans virtually every facet of human interest. They all are some important characteristics in common being:

  • independent, non-governmental bodies, established voluntarily by citizens who choose to organise
  • committed to reinvesting their surpluses to further their social, cultural or environmental objectives
  • 'value-driven' and motivated by the desire to further social, cultural or environmental objectives, rather than simply to make a profit

We remain convinced of the case for viewing bodies with these characteristics as a distinctive "sector".

Active across Wales:

  • 32,000 voluntary organisations
  • £1.258 billion estimated income to the third sector in Wales in 2018 to 2019
  • 938,000 volunteers

The Third Sector scheme

The Third Sector scheme is made under Section 74 of the Government of Wales Act 2006. This legislation requires Welsh Ministers to make a scheme, which is a statement of Welsh Ministers’ intent to support and promote, in the exercise of their functions as Welsh Ministers, the interests of relevant voluntary organisations.

This annual report for 2020 to 2021 shows how proposals set out in the Third Sector scheme were implemented in that financial year. Read the Government of Wales Act 2006.

The Third Sector scheme:

  • sharing views and information
  • monitoring and evaluating programmes and schemes
  • a shared interest in the way wider public services interact with the third sector
  • joint planning and design
  • ensure funding across policy areas
  • cross cutting themes of the scheme:
    • tackling poverty
    • sustainable development
    • equalities
    • Welsh language

The Third Sector scheme is designed to deliver a partnership between the Welsh Government and the third sector which is intended to help us to develop and support processes which will ultimately lead to:

  • stronger, more resilient, communities: the way most people make a voluntary contribution to the vibrancy and regeneration of their communities, provide care and help build people’s confidence and skills; and the opportunities the Third Sector creates for employment and local enterprise
  • better policy: the knowledge and expertise the third sector offers through its front-line experience to help shape policies, procedures and services
  • better public services: the innovative and transforming role the third sector can play in making public services reach more people and become more sensitive to their needs

All Cabinet Members, Deputy Ministers and officials are expected to promote the interests of the third sector in their work and decision making. The Third Sector scheme commits the Welsh Government to:

  • maintain arrangements for meaningful engagement and consultation with the third sector
  • maintain arrangements for supporting communities and volunteers
  • maintain arrangements for supporting structures that allow the third sector to flourish
  • seek to adhere to the code of practice for funding the Third Sector (contained as an annex to the Scheme)

It covers arrangements for consultation, working in partnership with the sector and also funding. Read about the Third Sector scheme.

These arrangements continue to be supported by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the Welsh Government.

What happened in 2020 to 2021

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

2020 to 2021 was an unprecedented time for everyone. The Third Sector’s response to the pandemic, and to the floods which affected many Welsh communities just before it, highlighted just how important the third sector is to the health and resilience of our communities in Wales. The challenges which these events threw up highlighted the power and potential which lies in voluntary action and community spirit.  

Despite uncertainties over income caused by diminished opportunities for fundraising, the sector continued to deliver crucial services to communities across Wales, offering support across a huge range of areas from advice and advocacy services, VAWDASV, Asylum Seekers and Refugees, health and social care, older people to name just a few.

This response was made possible by Wales’ unique Third Sector infrastructure and the relationships we have developed as part of the Third Sector scheme. They allowed partners from all sectors to come together quickly to understand needs and issues, as well as providing trusted mechanisms for getting resources to the right places at speed. 

Welsh Government support

In response to the pressures on the Third Sector and the increasing numbers of people who wanted to volunteer, Welsh Government supported the sector by providing an additional £40 million to the sector in 2020 to 2021 to support 3 areas of activity:

  • helping charities and third sector organisations financially to survive the crisis (and to become more resilient)
  • helping more people volunteer and volunteering services
  • strengthening the essential third sector infrastructure

This support for the sector came in the shape of several new funding pots that were designed to work alongside other government support and funding sources, as well as support from other funders such as trusts and foundations. Some of these funds include:

  • the Third Sector Resilience fund (TSRF) administered by WCVA
  • the Voluntary Services Emergency fund (VSEF) and the Voluntary Services Recovery fund (VSRF) administered by WCVA
  • the Volunteering Recovery fund (VRF) administered by the Welsh Government

In order to plan beyond these short-term funding streams, the Third Sector Partnership Council and Welsh Government also co-produced a Third Sector Covid Recovery Plan setting out joint priorities over the medium and long term to enable the sector to play the crucial role it wants to in Wales’ recovery from the pandemic. The plan has 3 key work streams:

  • support
  • relationships
  • volunteering

Some of this additional funding is included in the section "Funding provided from Welsh Government to support TSSW in 2020 to 2021" and reflects the steep increase in funding for this reporting period.

The Scheme sets out the formal arrangements for engagement across 5 areas:

Dialogue and cooperation

This activity involved agreeing practical arrangements, dialogue and exchange of information. One good example of where this has worked in practice, and delivered positive outcomes for stakeholders during this reporting period is the Welsh Government’s Bereavement Workstream.

Case study: Welsh Government’s Bereavement Workstream, Third Sector collaboration 

In 2019, the End of Life Care Board (EOLCB), part of NHS Wales, took on responsibility for bereavement support in Wales. In order to understand better what services were being delivered, the EOLCB commissioned Cardiff University in conjunction with the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre and the Wales Cancer Research Centre to undertake a scoping study of bereavement services across Wales. This scoping study was completed and published in December 2019.

The scope of the study covered the broad range of bereavement support, including that for children and young people. It highlighted the gaps and challenges in bereavement support and raised a number of considerations for service development. These were centred on the need to develop a national framework for bereavement care in Wales. This would then facilitate investment in bereavement support at organisational and regional levels and provide equity and access to appropriate levels of support responsive to local need.

In response to the scoping study, the Welsh Government published a written statement in February 2020.

The statement set out what actions the Welsh Government and the EOLCB were planning to take in response. This included establishing a National Bereavement Steering Group chaired by Dr Idris Baker, the national clinical lead for end-of-life care and the appointment of a dedicated national bereavement lead officer to support development of a national bereavement framework. The steering group was established and comprises a wide variety of third sector organisations providing bereavement support to children, young people and adults, those affected by baby loss, sudden death, suicide and all types of bereavement.

The steering group’s first task was to co-produce the national framework for the delivery of bereavement care in Wales with the overall aim of setting out how in Wales we can respond to those who are facing, or have experienced, a bereavement. The framework includes core principles, minimum bereavement care standards and a range of actions to support regional and local planning. It also includes a section on learning from COVID-19 and the distress felt by many people who lost loved ones during the pandemic. The framework is deliberately written in an accessible style, to enable it to be read by those responsible for commissioning and providing bereavement support, as well as by bereaved people themselves. The final framework was published on 28 October 2021.

To support the implementation of the framework, the Welsh Government is providing a £3 million Bereavement Support Grant over the 3 year period 2021 to 2024. Third sector organisations played a crucial role in helping to design the application forms for the grant application process and 21 were successful in securing grant funding.

The work of the steering group is now focusing on the development of a national bereavement pathway for Wales to ensure that anyone who experiences a bereavement, wherever and whenever it happens, will be provided with information on how to obtain further support should they need it, whether that is practical, financial or emotional support. As with the development of the bereavement framework and the bereavement support grant before, third sector partners will have a vital role to play in both the pathway development and in supporting its implementation.

Third Sector Partnership Council (TSPC)

The Third Sector Partnership Council helps the Welsh Government to work with third sector organisations to develop better policies and services. During the reporting period the TSPC was chaired by Jane Hutt MS, at the time Deputy Minister and Chief Whip. The Council included representatives of Third Sector networks who worked across 25 areas of third sector activity along with the Chief Executive Officer of Wales Council Voluntary Action (see annex a).

This reporting period (2020 to 2021) saw an increase in the number of TSPC meetings from previous years, due to the engagement and involvement between Welsh Government and the third sector in the development and delivery of support provided to Welsh communities throughout the COVID pandemic. In 2020 to 2021 a total of 5 TSPC meetings were held under the auspices of the Third Sector Scheme. While COVID recovery and forward planning were very much at the fore front of these meeting, below are some examples of other topics discussed:

  • EU Transition
  • Socio-Economic Duty
  • Digital Strategy
  • Welsh Language Strategy
  • TSPC Recovery Group Report
  • TSPC Funding and Compliance Sub-committee

Minutes from the TSPC meetings are published on Welsh Government’s website.

Ministerial meetings

Wales rightly has an international reputation as a country where access to policy makers and Ministers is such that it promotes good governance. The Third Sector meet regularly with each Welsh Government Minister to discuss issues relevant to their portfolios.

These Ministerial meetings complement day-to-day engagement between Welsh Government officials and Third Sector representatives by focusing on strategic policy issues that affect more than 1 part of the Third Sector.

Under the auspices of the Third Sector scheme, 12 meetings between Welsh Ministers and Third Sector organisations took place in 2020 to 2021 under the auspices of the Third Sector scheme. Topics discussed included, for example:

  • Wales transport strategy
  • social enterprise vision and action plan
  • Welsh Government budget process
  • longer term grant funding

Further, Welsh Ministers engaged with Third Sector organisations in many different ways outside these formal meetings, including visits to organisations, attending events and conferences, and via direct correspondence or meetings with individual groups or organisations to hear more specifically about issues which affected them. Throughout the reporting period of 2020 to 2021, many Ministers had significantly more contact with third sector organisations who were involved in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Records of these ministerial meetings can be found on the Welsh Government website.


Welsh Ministers have committed to procedures for consultation on policy changes and new policy developments which affect the Third Sector including:

  • opportunities for continuing discussion between Third Sector, volunteering interests and the Welsh Government to foster early understanding and involvement in policy development
  • consultation arrangements that normally allow adequate time for wider consultation with networks and service users
  • supporting the role of umbrella bodies and intermediaries in facilitating consultation
  • feedback to respondents on the replies to and outcomes of the consultation
  • opportunities for the sector to continue to be involved at the implementation and evaluation stages of the policy

There were 93 consultations published between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. Details can be found on the consultation pages of the Welsh Government website.

An example of a consultation carried out in 2020 to 2021 where the third sector was able to contribute and influence policy development was the consultation regarding future funding for Equality and Inclusion (E and I) funding programme.

This consultation ran for 9 weeks and sought the advice and guidance of stakeholders, those who provide services, and individuals and communities who were either receiving those services or needed them. Stakeholders were invited to tell the Welsh Government if anything needed to change with the E and I funding programme. Views were sought on the following areas:

  • issues relating to the funding programme
  • funding period
  • distribution of funding
  • continuation of existing services for particular groups
  • budget splits
  • alignment with Welsh Government’s Strategic Equality action plan 2020 to 2024
  • collaborative working
  • alignment to specific equality plans such as the Gender Equality, Race Equality and LGBTQ+ action plans
  • impact on Welsh language

Welsh Government received a total of 39 responses to the consultation, of which 22 were from the third sector. The responses to this consultation will now influence the development of the new E and I grant which is currently being development.

Policy development

Under the Third Sector scheme the Welsh Government is committed to ensuring that it takes into consideration, at a formative stage, the implications for the third sector of any new policies or changes. This engagement with the sector is key to informing policy development and helping to shape services to meet the needs of people in Wales. An example of this engagement and the benefits it can bring in practice to Welsh communities is the development of the Third Sector recovery report:

Case study: Third Sector Partnership Council recovery report

Following the initial wave of the pandemic the Deputy Minister and Chief Whip established the Third Sector Partnership Council (TSPC) Recovery sub-group to articulate the role of the sector in Wales’ recovery from COVID-19, and how it could be supported to do so.

The purpose of the sub-group was to draw on the expertise of the full TSPC to provide views and advice to Welsh Ministers on planning the recovery. The subgroup’s aims included:

  • setting out shared ambitions for recovery and advising on how these can be measured
  • identifying learning that can enable better outcomes in the longer term
  • advising on who needs to do what to achieve our shared ambitions and enabling voluntary organisations to play their full role in recovery

Through shared discussion the sub-group identified three key areas for development, relationships, support (including non-financial support) and volunteering. Crucially, the group stressed the importance of not seeing or treating these areas as independent, but rather as complementary to each other.

The result of this work was the publication of the TSPC Recovery report in early 2021, which through its recommendations continues to inform policy development. The report recognises that delivery of these recommendations will heavily rely on the support of public, private and voluntary sector organisations at local, regional and national levels.

Welsh Government's funding and support for the Third Sector

The Welsh Government, through its core funding of Third Sector Support Wales (TSSW) a partnership comprising the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and the 19 County Voluntary Councils (CVCs) across Wales, supported a Third Sector Infrastructure which during 2020 to 2021 represented, promoted, supported and was accountable to the third sector at all levels.

This support was focused around 4 key pillars of activity: volunteering, good Governance, sustainable funding and engagement and influencing with public service partners.

The TSSW Impact Report provides data and case studies to show the impact of Welsh Government and TSSW support around the 4 key pillars.

This year’s Impact Report (2020 to 2021) also shows how Wales’s unique third sector infrastructure allowed the sector to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of communities throughout the pandemic. TSSW enabled thousands of voluntary organisations across Wales to access funding, information, learning opportunities, volunteers and digital support that would not have been available without the existence of the TSSW partnership.

High-level impacts being delivered by TSSW with Welsh Government support:

  • TSSW supports voluntary organisations, volunteers and volunteering at local regional and national levels
  • 3,257 organisations were supported with direct information and advice
  • 2,758 grants were issued to organisations totalling £44,454,157.68
  • 1,120 partnerships/forums/networks events were facilitated involving 8,924 participants
  • 3,382 interactions with organisations on good governance, with an average of 50 minutes per interaction
  • 10,156 volunteers supported to enter a volunteering opportunity
  • Infoengine Is a free online directory of third sector community services. The site highlights a wide variety of voluntary and community services so that people can make informed choices about the services they access. During 2020 and 2021 infoengine registered 4,435 servicers from 3,722 organisations with 19,257 new users

For more information on TSSW you can visit their website.

Funding provided from the Welsh Government to support TSSW in 2020 to 2021

Funding Amount

Core funding to County Voluntary Councils and Wales Council  for Voluntary Action TSSW (See table below for individual County allocations)


Volunteering Wales Fund


Third Sector Safeguarding support


Third Sector Change Fund


Partnership Capacity Fund: grants to TSPC networks




Breakdown of Core Funding Allocations for WCVA and individual Country Voluntary Councils














Isle of Anglesey













Neath Port Talbot










Vale of Glamorgan






Merthyr Tydfil


Rhondda Cynon Taff






Other support for the third sector

TSSW funding was not the only funding provided to third sector organisations across Wales. The Welsh Government provided support, core funding and project funding to many other Third Sector organisations.

In many cases these funds related to specialist areas of work and the funding was agreed by the appropriate Welsh Government Minister.

In 2020 to 2021 the Welsh Government awarded £471 million in direct funding to the Third Sector.

This did not include procurement expenditure or indirect payments made to third sector organisations where the Welsh Government provided funding to another organisation, for example a local authority, which may have subsequently funded third sector organisations.

The Welsh Government’s managing Welsh public money sets out the framework and principles which must be applied by the Welsh Government, its sponsored bodies, the NHS in Wales, its commissioners, the Education Workforce Council, Estyn and the Welsh Government’s subsidiary bodies. Further detail can be found at Managing Welsh Public Money.

The Welsh Government’s Code of Practice for Funding the Third Sector (the Code) governs how the Welsh Government, and its agents should approach funding of the Third Sector.

The Code sets out the types of funding the Welsh Government provides, the principles upon which funding decisions should be based, and the terms and arrangements under which funding should be offered.

Third Sector Scheme

No breaches of the Code were reported during this reporting period.

Further information

Welsh Government Support for the Third Sector

Third Sector Support Wales Impact Report 2019 to 2020

For information about volunteering

Visit your local County Voluntary Council or Volunteer Centre

Alternatively contact the Third Sector Unit at

For information on other grant programmes, please contact Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) on 0300 1110124

For further information on Third Sector Support Wales, visit their website.

Third Sector and local authority support during the early stages of the pandemic

Annex a: table of TSPC areas of interest and network leads

Area of interest


Advice and advocacy

Independent Advice Providers forum

Animal welfare

Animal Welfare Network for Wales

Arts, culture and heritage

Creative Lives

Asylum seekers and refugees

Welsh Refugee Coalition

Children and families

Children in Wales


Building Communities Trust

Community justice

Community Justice Cymru


Wales Disability Reference Group

Education and training

Adult Learning Wales


Siawns Teg


Wales Environment Link

Ethnic minorities

Race Council Cymru

Ethnic minorities

Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST)


Women's Equality Network Wales

Health, social care and wellbeing

Health, Social Care, Wellbeing Planning Group


Homes for All Cymru

Local and regional intermediaries

CVC Cymru


Welsh Centre for International Affairs

Older people

Age Alliance Wales


Interfaith Council for Wales


Stonewall Cymru

Social enterprise

Social Enterprise network

Sport and recreation

Welsh Sports association


Volunteering Wales network

Welsh Language

Mentrau Iaith Cymru


Council for Wales Voluntary Youth Services

WCVA Chief Executive

WCVA representative