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Leading in uncertainty


Online peer support sessions for voluntary and community sector leaders 

Teal badge with mint speech bubbles. Text: Leading in uncertainty with IVAR.

We want to offer useful, relevant support to the amazing charities who inspire us every day. We are providing facilitated spaces for voluntary and community sector leaders to share what is front of mind, and to receive support in the current context of sustained uncertainty.


During these online sessions, we are listening – so we can learn about and make sense of the live challenges leaders are facing, and help funders to understand how they can best respond.


Join us for some time to pause and reflect, and to hear other leaders’ experiences of adapting to and coping with prolonged uncertainty.

Select a date and time in the quick booking calendar to secure your place. Alternatively, explore this page to find more information about the peer support, our learning and why people have found these sessions useful.

How is this useful?

What past attendees have to say:

Core Funding


"The benefit of the IVAR sessions has been listening to how others have coped during this time, 
and I hope that leaders will give themselves the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned and works for them."

Core Funding


"It’s good for mental wellbeing and to have the opportunity to talk and share with others in similar situations.

Core Funding


"Meeting others from a different geographical area provides the opportunity to be frank about challenges faced and therefore allows open discussion which can identify strong solutions.

Core Funding


"It is important to take time out. To know that people around the country are dealing with the same things and feel that we have each other’s back. I am glad I didn’t make an excuse."

Core Funding


"I found this space highly valuable to hear and empathise with other charity leaders grappling with similar challenges. I also enjoyed hearing about their unique context and specific challenges; it is great to get out of your own head and hear what is important for others; I learnt a lot about how other leaders approach their work and its pressures from these conversations. It prompted me to reflect on my own priorities and approaches.

The programme

We are running 90 minute drop-in peer support sessions for up to 10 charity leaders at a time, every week, from June 2021 – via Zoom


Attendees will have a safe space to share challenges – like increasing or changing demand, taking care of your team (and yourself!) after a difficult year, blending online and face-to-face, and managing multiple balancing acts.

There will also be pathways to influence funder practices in the Open & trusting grantmaking initiative.

Please note:

The online support sessions are facilitated peer support spaces; they are not not information or advice surgeries.

Through these sessions, we’re building our understanding of the live situation in the sector – and calling for funders to respond. So, as well as a safe space to share what’s on your mind, this is also an opportunity to influence funder practice. You can see examples of this in our briefing series and our call for open and trusting grant-making, which has been shaped by what we’ve heard from charity leaders.

Rest assured that we won’t share anything without your consent.

We will be producing anonymised briefings to:

  • Inform UK-wide funders decisions about the kinds of support needed by the sector

  • Share advice for other voluntary sector leaders

Who is this for? 

Leaders of charities, community organisations and social enterprises, based in the UK.

This Leading in Uncertainty initiative builds on the emergency support sessions which we have been providing since April 2020. Over 500 people have taken part so far; their organisations are active in 17 fields including the arts, criminal justice, education, equality, infrastructure and migration. For a feel for what the sessions are like, read this short blog from Patricia Kieran, Director of the Irish Institute for Catholic Studies.

What kind of space is it?

The precise focus of conversations is generated by the participants – you can shape what this needs to be, to ensure that the sessions are useful for you.

‘It was really powerful to be part of one of these sessions … incredible to hear about the wide range of experiences and challenges faced by colleagues and to identify together commonality within that diversity.’

The sessions are co-facilitated by IVAR staff and associates, all of whom have been supporting charity leaders across the UK since April 2020.

When are the sessions?

The sessions take place weekly, starting in June 2021, until April 2022. The first dates until September 2021 are available now, and new dates will be added every three months.


Katie Turner Facilitator


Houda Davis Researcher

Ben Cairns, Project Supervisor

Ben Cairns Facilitator

Annie - test for website

Annie Caffyn Researcher

Vita - Colour

Vita Terry


Photo of Miranda Lewis

Miranda Lewis Facilitator


Eliza Buckley Facilitator

Sonakshi Anand, Project Manager

Sonakshi Anand Researcher

Keeva Rooney - IVAR researcher.

Keeva Rooney Researcher

Charlotte Pace, research associate at IVAR.

Charlotte Pace Facilitator


29 July 2021

Communities need flexible funders to influence the public sector

Ben Cairns

Perfectly placed to step up and argue for greater consistency and flexibility from public funding, we share why independent grantmakers should speak out:

read-more read more

27 July 2021

‘Perfection was never achievable’ – Two Charity CEOs on leading in uncertainty

We’ve heard from 23 leaders during our recent peer support sessions. Here, two of those leaders share reflections about what it is like to lead through this period of prolonged upheaval.

read-more read more

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