VOLUNTEER groups hit by the effects of the coronavirus crisis will be given further financial support, the Welsh Government has announced.

The Voluntary Services Emergency Fund (VSEF), which awarded £7 million in emergency grants to volunteer organisations across Wales, closed on August 7.

Today, deputy minister Jane Hutt is announcing a new fund, Voluntary Services Recovery Fund (VSRF), to continue funding the voluntary sector.

She said: “Charities, voluntary sector organisations and volunteers have played a vital role in the response to Covid-19, and our support for the voluntary sector won’t end here.

"As life begins to return to a new normal, and shielding for our most vulnerable citizens ends in August, we will be opening a new funding scheme to enable organisations to meet new needs and respond to new challenges."

The VSRF will be open for applications from August 17, and will focus on reducing the inequalities across society which have emerged during the pandemic.

“Many communities suffered disproportionately, and are still in emergency situations," the deputy minister added. "This new fund will support the third sector to continue to deliver essential services to communities throughout Wales, and to adapt to meet new needs, for example relating to mental health and social well-being."

Ruth Marks, the chief executive of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, applauded charities for their "truly inspiring" work during the pandemic.

“Now, as we see an easing of restrictions, the needs of the voluntary sector are changing," she added. "It’s important that we adapt our support, and the purposes of this emergency grant scheme, to enable voluntary organisations to address the different challenges that lie ahead.”