Seeds of Change: growing through challenges in Charity Sector

In today’s landscape charity and voluntary organisations are facing complex issues as they continue delivering frontline services. In the face of government cuts, running costs remain high, recruitment challenges persevere, and individual giving sees a significant decrease as the cost-of-living crisis makes it harder to donate. But whilst our resilience continues to be tested, charities must face these challenges head on so that we can unlock a better future for the communities and individuals we support through our organisations, writes Dave Morton, Acting Director of The Conservation Volunteers, Northern Ireland and Scotland

At The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), creating a better environment is at the core of everything we do, ensuring local communities can benefit from improved air quality, enhanced green spaces, and the opportunity to reconnect with nature. After all, the environment is the foundation of life and society and we exist to connect people to green spaces and deliver lasting impact for both. For this reason, our projects directly tackle the climate crisis, and we work to give communities access to quality green spaces where biodiversity is enhanced, and the natural environment can act as a driver for health and our overall wellbeing.

Effective collaboration is key to ensuring our environment remains protected, communities are connected, and we deliver our projects in the long term. And corporate partnerships play an important role in this and exemplify the power of aligning shared goals. Whilst partners bring much needed funding and resources, voluntary organisations offer an understanding of local needs and a passion for community-driven change.

But we all need to play our part in nature’s recovery and dedicate time, energy, and expertise to nurturing our shared planet. We’re facing a huge threat to our natural heritage and native tree species, Northern Ireland’s tree cover currently sits at eight per cent – alarmingly one of the lowest in Europe.

Our recent partnership with Hughes Insurance shows how powerful charity and business alignment can be and, in our case, the transformative potential to creating a lasting legacy for our environment. Funding from Hughes Insurance will support our mission to preserve the genetic heritage of our native trees, vital for the health of our environmental and local species. One development where this is coming to life is our Tree Nursery, an ambitious undertaking which will aim to plant between 50,000 and 77,000 native tree species at the Ulster Folk Museum in Cultra.

Collected by our dedicated nursery staff and enthusiastic volunteers, the seeds will blossom into trees of the future, helping to replenish biodiversity in many of our woodlands. But this venture isn’t just about planting trees, it’s a testament to the power of collaboration in transforming our natural spaces.

Crucially the partnership will also see Hughes Insurance employees commit to volunteering across the province, as part of Action for Impact. An initiative specifically designed to support communities, improve employee wellbeing and create positive environmental impact. Partnership should work both ways and Hughes Insurance’s commitment to its Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance confirmed to us the deep value in corporate partnerships and its values to Act Responsibly, Put People First and Make Things Better align closely to TCV’s – Make a Difference, Be the Best We Can Be and Deliver Positive Environmental Impact.

The essence of the partnership echoes the truth of today – that charities cannot operate in isolation and require collaboration with individuals, businesses and governments and wider stakeholders to deliver on our vision to create, healthier, happier communities for everyone.

The path ahead for charities is marked by both challenges and opportunities, but it’s up to us to steer our organisations through uncertainty and work in collaboration with partners to create positive environmental impact and a more sustainable future for generations to come.

To find out more on TCV’s Tree Nursery or volunteering visit

For more information on Hughes Insurance workplace initiatives and Action for Impact visit

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