Supporting the mental health of grassroots VCS workers

Influencing policy or practice
Aligning processes
Emerging opportunity

Aims and activities

Aims and questions

Aims and activities

Our evidence shows that the mental health of front-line voluntary and community sector (VCS) workers is declining rapidly while, at the same time, 97% of VCS organisations report that they are handling mental crises as a major part of their work. 82% said they are concerned about burnout of their staff - double the amount from the previous year. Through five survey waves (2020-22) we now know that grassroots VCS organisations feel they lack the support and training to deal with the everyday trauma they are facing.

Over the last year, we at People’s Health Trust have met with a small group of foundations who responded to our earlier call on the Funders Collaborative Hub for funders who would like to look at ways to collectively address this ongoing issue of concern.

In recent months, this group developed a set of principles, which we think may form a useful basis for a funder commitment. These include:

  • enhancing knowledge among the funder’s staff to be aware of the mental health needs and emerging challenges of their funded partners, including staff and volunteers
  • developing a package of mental health support for staff and volunteers working for grant-receiving organisations, ideally in collaboration with other funders
  • seeking to ensure a proportionate application and reporting process for funded partners, and not collecting information that won’t be used or is not needed
  • some funders are also interested in developing an advocacy aspect of this work, raising these issues with others and encouraging collective action.

We’re now doing further work to refine these ideas, including discussion with mental health organisations.

Workers who supported tens of thousands of local people through crises... now require our support to stay mentally healthy

John Hume
Chief Executive, People's Health Trust

How to get involved

Given the high levels of mental health challenges across the voluntary sector, it’s more important than ever that funders consider their role in supporting those they award funding to. While every funder can make a difference, a collective effort can be more impactful and reduce inefficiencies and duplicated effort.

The small group of funders involved to date now hopes for this scoping work to conclude in early 2024, at which point we will seek to launch the commitment and encourage other funders to get involved. We’re very keen to hear from others that may be interested in getting involved in this development phase, and anyone who may want to keep in touch once the principles are ready for wider use.

If you’d like to find out more, please do get in touch with People’s Health Trust by emailing

Who's involved

Who was involved

Who was involved

People's Health Trust are convening these discussions with a group of other funders.

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