Leading through a pandemic

Patricia Armstrong, Jayne Stuart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 2019, research showed that 87 per cent of third sector leaders reported experiencing one or more symptoms of burnout. Current research has shown that the impact of the pandemic has resulted in additional challenges that can only add to this pressure. A study early in the pandemic showed that 50 per cent of charities feared running out of cash within six months and feared closure, 70 per cent believed there would be cuts to services and budgets after COVID-19 and most anticipated a surge in demand for services. This chapter explores how voluntary sector leaders have coped with these challenges and brings together research and lived experiences of those at the frontline. Case studies captured in the early pandemic were used as a baseline, with follow-up questions, which were used to explore the impact on individual leaders. Findings indicate that a strong peer support network, a focus on personal wellbeing and having a supportive board all had a part to play in the leaders’ resilience and strength in driving organisations through their pandemic response journey. The chapter concludes with what has been learnt from leaders’ experiences of the pandemic and how these lessons may give insights for future leaders’ support and development when challenging times are experienced.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOVID-19 and the voluntary and community sector in the UK
Subtitle of host publicationresponses, impacts and adaptation
EditorsJames Rees, Rob Macmillan, Chris Dayson, Chris Damm, Claire Bynner
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherPolicy Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781447365532, 9781447365549
ISBN (Print)9781447365501, 9781447365518
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • VSOs
  • Volunteering
  • Collaboration
  • Wellbeing
  • Leadership
  • Peer support networks
  • Resilience


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