Covid-19 Communities 1st Voluntary Sector Briefing 20th March 2020

We are grateful to everyone who submitted answers to our survey or spoke to us on the phone yesterday 19 March.  We have managed to gather data about your readiness for managing volunteers and supporting local people from so many of you and this has been fed in to planning at local, regional and national government level.

 

Communities 1st is working in partnership with St Albans City and District Council, Hertsmere Borough Council, Broxbourne & East Herts and Welwyn/Hatfield Volunteer Centres, Citizens Advice, plus many other member organisations. Without wishing to sound like a wartime poster, we are stronger when we work together and I have been struck by the support there is across the network of members.

 

There is no indication that the COVID-19 outbreak will be over in just a few weeks, so let's keep working together.

 

Stephen Craker, Chief Executive, Communities 1st

 

What Communities 1st is doing

Communities 1st, together with Broxbourne & East Herts and Welwyn/Hatfield Volunteer Centres is taking a lead on coordinating the volunteer response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the districts of St Albans, Hertsmere, Welwyn/Hatfield, Broxbourne and East Herts.

 

What the partnership is offering:

  • A group of volunteers to support the most vulnerable people across the districts of St Albans, Hertsmere, Welwyn/Hatfield, Broxbourne and East Herts 
  • Guidance on how to best to support neighbourly action in a safe way
  • Identified local partners to support teams of volunteers.
  • A central place for people to request help and support and for those that are self-isolating

 

Key actions to progress the above:

  • Provision of a 7-day contact centre – in place from this weekend.
  • Online registration form – in place now
  • Voluntary Sector support webpages, including Communications pack – in the next couple of days
  • DBS checking process – in place
  • Online induction for volunteers – should be in place by early next week – week of 23 March.
  • Neighbourly action pack - ready by early next week
  • Local coordination and deployment through local trusted organisations
  • Volunteers identified though the above online registration process

At the time of writing, we have received nearly 800 volunteer signups through the online form, showing that local people are really stepping up.

Supporting for the Voluntary/Community Sector

  • Can your organisation be contacted by local residents needing help?
  • Can your organisation make use of additional volunteers?
  • Can we signpost people to your organisation?

If you are a voluntary sector organisation who needs help or can offer support, please complete the form at:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KHFFL88

If a group or local organisation would like to discuss anything, please email memberservices@communities1st.org.uk or phone us on 01727 743018.

Loss of Income and Funder Support

Many local organisations are facing substantial financial losses as a result of the coronavirus situation. There are 3 things you should do:

  • Alert the funder to the situation. They may not be able to react swiftly or at all but if all organisations in receipt of a grant alert them to the issues then funders can work together to address the situation
  • Check your insurance policy. If you have business continuity insurance there is a chance that some of your losses may be covered (see below for more details).
  • Keep an eye on sources of sector news for national and local responses. Central government has already put a range of measures in place for small businesses and sector leaders are lobbying for those to be extended to charities.

Government Support

Trading efforts have been hit. There has also been - and will continue to be - a devastating loss of income due to cancellation of fundraising events and regular small donors being more cautious about what they do with their money.

Without urgent help, many of these charities and voluntary organisations are facing imminent collapse. Alongside fighting for their cause, they are also fighting for survival. Without these grassroots organisations, the people who are most in need in our communities will be even harder hit.

If you feel able, there are two things you can do to help.

  1. Add your organisation's name to the letter to the Prime Minister organised by the Small Charities Coalition.
  2. Share the link to the details of the campaign with your networks and ask them to support this campaign too.

MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis offers grants to small charities

Martin Lewis says: "We face an unprecedented challenge to our health, economy, businesses, personal finance and way of life. And many of those who normally help society – our charities – are going to face similar pressures right now too.

"To try and help I'm going to release £1,000,000 from my personal charity fund to provide grants of £5,000 to £20,000 to small registered charities, or local arms of bigger charities, across the UK – to help with specific UK coronavirus-related poverty relief projects."

Find our more here .  The deadline for applications is Wed 25 March 2020.

Business Continuity Insurance 

You may have business continuity insurance in place and this will often include cover for loss of rental income. However, it generally doesn’t include cover as standard to provide for business interruption for notifiable diseases.

Even if you have the notifiable diseases cover in place you may find your insurer refusing to accept COVID-19 as it was not on the list of notifiable diseases when the insurance was taken out.   However, as of 1700 on 5 Mar 2020, emergency legislation reclassified COVID-19 as a notifiable disease so the recommendation is to go back to your insurers with this additional information. www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-listed-as-a-notifiable-disease  

Charities are known to have run into the issue with Zurich and Aviva policies.

NCVO, NAVCA and other nationals are trying to lobby the government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to resolve it.

Guidance and Information

We're busy adding a whole range of material to our website, in our new Resources Hub.

We've split material into five sections:

  • Organisational and remote working guidance
  • Guidance on working with different sectors of your community
  • Safeguarding
  • Governance
  • Communications, including a guide on dealing with the media

We're adding more material all the time and will let you know what's new in future editions of this Bulletin.

Education settings - guidance and details of key worker categories

More information is now available on schools and other educational settings. This also includes detail about the classification of key workers, whose children can still be sent to school if needed.

More information here.

Message from Radio Verulam - offer of help

This is a very difficult time for everyone and, as your local radio station, we want to do whatever we can to support you and our community through it.  That might be helping to get messages out, promoting what your business or organisation is doing or giving advice to people in need when reaching them direct is difficult.

Our coverage area is over 450,000 people and we have over 11,000 social media followers; we want to make sure you get the best, most useful access to our audience.  Of course, we will do this without charge.

Please could you go to www.radioverulam.com/sidewithstalbans to let us know how you think we might be able to help and to establish contact.

Updated statement from The National Lottery Community Fund: COVID-19

In a recent statement by Dawn Austwick, CEO, The National Lottery Community Fund, they have that they:

  • will be flexible with regards to your current grant
  • will support you and your teams through this crisis
  • don’t want you to worry about deadlines and reporting

Their funding officers can answer questions you might have, do get in touch with them if you need to.  All details can be found here: www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/contact

If you want to help those in need

Communities 1st have set up the Compassionate Community Connector programme for people who are healthy and at low risk to help others.   Sign up to the programme using the online form: www.communities1st.org.uk/COVID-19-community-signup  or by phone:  020 3940 4865 between 1pm – 3pm, Monday to Friday.  There are a range of volunteer roles available. 

Coronavirus (Covid 19) advice in a number of languages.

Doctors of the World and British Red Cross have put together Coronavirus (Covid 19) advice in a number of languages. So far there is English, Albanian, Dari, French, Pashto, Portuguese, Bengali, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and Farsi, with Malayalam, Amharic, Tigrinya and Somali coming soon.

You can find them here https://www.communities1st.org.uk/Covid-19Updates

If you need help, or know someone that needs support and are self-isolating

For people who need help (shopping, dog walking/pet hosting, telephone tech support for online shopping or using skype/facetime etc) whilst isolated, they (or someone on their behalf) can complete an online form at www.communities1st.org.uk/Covid19support contact us on 020 8207 5115 or email help@communities1st.org.uk

They will then be either matched with one of the Compassionate Community Connector volunteers, offered support immediately or signposted/referred on to a local voluntary/community organisation