Communities 1st Voluntary Sector Briefing 10th April 2020

We are in a time where everyone is expecting to hear bad news at some point. We’re also in a time where more than ever we need to support each other, to work together and unleash all the skill, creativity, kindness and compassion we can muster. We must all work to support each other and ensure we remain connected for the benefit of our most vulnerable residents.

The Chancellors announcement on Wednesday about funding available for the charity sector will support many charities currently on the frontline of the current pandemic.  This will make sure that much-needed services supporting those in need – including hospices, food banks, domestic abuse services along with homelessness and addiction charities – can continue to support the communities that need them more than ever at this time.

There is still work to be done though.  We’re very aware that while this money will support some, there are many charities and other voluntary organisations who will not be able to access it.  Communities 1st is working hard to identify funding options for everyone and will continue to support our members to recognise other funding pots available.  Our website has updated funding information relating to COVID-19 and our weekly updates include information on new funds that we have identified.

We continue to work with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the National Association For Voluntary And Community Action (NAVCA) to share what is happening at a grassroots level, which allows them to continue to make the case to government. Consequently, we ask you to keep in contact with us throughout this time, letting us know what support your group needs and what issues you are facing. This can be done by making contact via email at, calling 01727 743018 or by filling out our member survey

I would like to say a huge thanks to all those who have offered to support us with helping those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Stay safe, stay well, be kind

Stephen Craker,

Chief Executive, Communities 1st


This newsletter is split into the following sections:

  • Communities 1st COVID-19 Information and Support
  • Information to support voluntary and community sector organisations
  • Funding for non-profit organisations
  • Information to support individuals


Support for groups/charities

We need to hear from you

If your voluntary organisation is still delivering your service, please inform us of what kind of help, support, guidance you most need from Communities 1st.

If your organisation is facing challenges as a direct result of Coronavirus you can contact us via email on: or by completing an online form here and we will prioritise support for your organisation.

Compassionate Community Connector Programme

This programme is being co-ordinated by Communities 1st in response to Covid-19 and covers St Albans, Hertsmere, Welwyn/Hatfield, Broxbourne and East Herts.  Communities 1st is working in conjunction with Broxbourne and East Herts and Welwyn Hatfield Volunteer Centres, Volunteering Herts, Harpenden Cares, London Colney Good Neighbour Scheme, #TeamHerts, HertsHelp and many other local organisations.

Volunteering: for people who are healthy and at low risk to help others. Individuals wishing to volunteer their time can sign-up here or call 020 3940 4865 between 1pm – 3pm, Monday to Friday.

Supporting Individuals: People who need help whilst isolated (or someone on their behalf) can complete an online form here or call 020 8207 5115 or email. 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.

Be a Good Neighbour

Many people want to help as the Coronavirus causes more people to stay at home – this is great, but people aren’t always sure where to start and some are worried about safety or fraud.  

We want to encourage neighbourliness in these uncertain times, so we have put together some advice for community involvement during the Coronavirus outbreak. We want to encourage kindness and neighbourliness, but we want people to stay safe so we’ve shared some tips for everyone to please bear in mind.

  • Keep it local and manageable – we suggest your own street or about 20-30 houses at most, please don’t try and cover a larger area!
  • Don’t try to cover more than you realistically can sustain – this might last for months
  • Stick to a patch you know well
  • Keep to where people will recognise you and trust your offer is genuine
  • Don’t get into personal care or going into people’s houses – be assured that other agencies are looking at this
  • Keep it to essentials so we are talking pence not pounds and don’t expect or ask people to pay for support, if they insist, suggest they pay you back later ‘in kind’ when they are well
  • Keep an eye out for fraudsters, and if confident to do so, politely (and safely) challenge any cold callers in your area
  • Follow the advice, and don’t pass on germs
  • When dropping off supplies, remember to observe social distancing guidance

We’ve made a Being a Good Neighbour Booklet – Top Tips to help others guide free for everyone to access.  We’ve produced some animations to share with volunteers, including: safeguardingpractical support volunteering and keeping in touch volunteering and many downloadable factsheets on our  COVID-19 Setting up a new group webpage.  

If you want more information you can visit our website: or contact our Voluntary Sector support team on 01727 743018.


NCVO free resources during covid-19: A trustee's role and responsibilities

NCVO has a diverse community of over 14,000 member organisations – a third of the voluntary sector workforce in England. They have made their member-only resources free to everyone because of the current situation. They think it’s important people have the guidance they need to run their organisations during this time.

One of those free resources is access to a pre-recorded four-part practical course which will introduce you to the key aspects and responsibilities of any trustee role.  Find out more here.

NCVO Government funding for charities: An important start but more is needed

Elizabeth Chamberlain is Head of Policy and Public Services at NCVO. Her expertise is on charity law and regulation. Her policy interests include charity campaigning, the sector’s independence, transparency, and accountability.

On 8 April Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced a bailout package for the UK charity sector.  Read blog here.

Charity Sector Survival: #EveryDayCounts

The #EveryDayCounts campaign was set to persuade the government to provide emergency funding that will keep charities alive and enable them to continue to serve their beneficiaries and communities. The campaign is asking charities to share their stories, so the government can understand how essential it is to invest in the sector and prevent its collapse.

  • Use the #EveryDayCounts campaign badge on your website, emails and social media to show support and promote the campaign. You can download the badge from the Charity Finance Group where you will also find useful tips about sharing your message on social media
  • Share your stories; use local media, social media using the hashtag #EveryDayCounts and get your stories out there by sharing what are you doing to support in response to COVID19 crisis.  Highlight any increases in your activities as a result of the crisis any capacity or financial squeezes.

Mental health for small workplaces

Now might be a very good time to focus on your team’s mental health as the current pandemic puts us all under unusual levels of stress. This free resource from Mind is a quick eLearning tool with three modules:

  • Building your awareness
  • Looking after yourself
  • Supporting each other

Take a look

How DBS is supporting the fight against coronavirus

The government has updated its guidance on how the DBS is supporting the fight against coronavirus. On the dedicated webpage you can find a collection of factsheets, updated guidelines and news stories related to DBS and coronavirus. These include FAQs, updated ID checking guidelines and information about Enhanced DBS checks for healthcare professionals. Take a look

First aid cover and qualifications during coronavirus (COVID-19)

If first aid cover for your business is reduced because of coronavirus or you can’t get the first aid training you need, there are some things you can do so that you still comply with the law.

For example, if you hold a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16 March 2020 and cannot access requalification training because of coronavirus you may qualify for a 3-month extension. Find out more.

Free business support for charities

Cranfield Trust provides free tailored business support to voluntary organisations. During this challenging time all its services are being offered remotely.  This includes one-to-one telephone support from experts on topics such as finance, communication and business contingency planning, tailored HR and employment advice, management consultancy and leadership mentoring.  Email or visit for more details.

Supporting BAME communities

The Ubele Initative has set up a new webpage about the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities and the charities that work with them. The website includes the statement that the Ubele initiative has released to government, case studies, webinars and research into the impact of COVID-19 on BAME community and voluntary organisations. Visit the website now.

A guide to fact-checking content

There is a huge amount of data out there that the average person is expected to process and understand. With social media and internet searches making up the vast proportion of data directed at informing the general public, separating fact from fiction is becoming increasingly difficult. This article from Charity Digital News, gives advice and practical tips on some of the ways charity digital leaders and staff can ensure that the right message gets across. Read now.

Considerations for community groups, volunteers and charities

Ladbrook Insurance have produced a document relaying and relying on other published materials to provide some information to policyholders and prospective clients.  This includes information for those managing premises that have recently become unoccupied.  Read now.



If you would like help with applying for these funds such as a read and review, Christine Halpin and Isobel Hatfield are on hand to help you through, please contact them by email at and they will book some time in to work with you.

HCF - grants of £2000 available

HCF have grants of up to £2,000 available for community groups and charities dealing with emergency issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Please check the fund eligibility criteria before completing your application process.  Click here to access information from HCF about the application process.

Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme

The Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme is run in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

  • Start Up: Your project is in the planning stages but ready to start, or less than two years old. It makes £0 – £15,000 a year
  • Trade Up: Your project was established at least a year ago, and probably has at least one paid member of staff. It makes at least £15,000 a year
  • Scale Up: Your project was probably established two or more years ago, and probably has two or more paid members of staff. It makes at least £75,000 a year

Applications are open until Thursday 30 April 2020. Find out more.

Sport England: Community Emergency Fund

This new fund aims to deliver immediate funding to those most in need. It’s specifically targeted at organisations, including those not currently supported by them, who have a role in supporting the nation to be active but who are experiencing short term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the ongoing crisis. Awards will be between £300 and £10,000. In exceptional circumstances they will consider awards of more than £10,000.  Find out more.

In This Together: Emergency Grants Fund

Emergency grants to support local organisations that are meeting the current needs of those experiencing homelessness across the UK and who are affected by the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis.  Find out more.

Audio Content Fund

The Audio Content Fund has “announced a special funding round, for content that will support radio audiences during the coronavirus crisis. The fund, which is financed by the UK Government, has made a minimum of £200,000 of its budget available for ideas that will improve the quality of listeners’ lives during restrictions in place due to Covid-19.”  Find out more.

Can your VCSE organisation apply for Covid-19 support for businesses?

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.  Find out more.

Coronavirus Voluntary Sector Support Fund

Catalyst Housing has set up an emergency fund to help small charities and voluntary sector organisations responding to support communities with the challenges of coronavirus.  The fund is open to organisations working in Catalyst neighbourhoods that are supporting those with low and insecure incomes, older people and vulnerable adults, as well as those with mental ill health.  Groups can apply for up to £2,000 and will cover costs.  Find out more.

BBC to host Big Night In fundraiser

BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief are joining forces to host an evening of fundraising in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Big Night In will be broadcast live on 23 April from 7pm to 10pm and will feature a range of celebrities and artists, some performing from home to respect social distancing rules.

This is the first time that the charity partners have collaborated. Funds will be divided between BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief and will then be used “to provide essential support to local charities, projects and programmes across the UK to help those most in need.”


Self-care during COVID-19

Mental health experts, Combat Stress have shared some help and advice to support everyone in managing their mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The guidance includes some simple and quick tips as well as more detailed guides and resources on topics like managing anxiety and working out from experts including occupational therapists and art therapists.  Take a look

Increase to Universal Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has provided information relating to an increase in Universal Credit allowance:  The standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit were increased for one year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating. This applies to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants. This means that for a single Universal Credit claimant (aged 25 or over), the standard allowance will increase from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.  Click here for the most up to date information about changes to Universal Credit.

Warnings and advice about COVID-19 scams

Unscrupulous criminals are exploiting fears about COVID-19 to prey on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends. National Trading Standards is warning people to remain vigilant following a rise in coronavirus-related scams that seek to benefit from the public’s concern and uncertainty over COVID-19.

Friends Against Scams has issued guidance on the particular types of scams related to COVID-19 that have been identified. These include doorstep crime, online scams, refund scams, counterfeit goods plus several more. You can read the guidance here.

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund

The £5million Enterprise Relief Fund will offer grants to 18 to 30-year olds across the UK who are self-employed and/or running their own business. In conjunction with cash grants, the initiative will offer one-to-one support and guidance to anyone who needs it and who may be worried about their future.  The process at this stage for all situations is just to register your interest. Find out more and register your interest.

St Albans Minor Injuries Unit temporarily closed as part of COVID-19 response

Patients with minor injuries should visit, the 111 online service. This will provide advice on where a patient should go for their symptoms. People should only phone 111 if they cannot get online.

Those patients who feel that they need a GP appointment should call their local GP practice and they are likely to be offered a phone or video consultation in the first instance, unless a face-to-face appointment is necessary. Patients who have sustained serious injuries and/or are suffering blood loss or a serious deterioration should call 999.

No-one with COVID-19 symptoms should attend any medical setting unless explicitly directed to do by the NHS 111 service or the 999 call operator.

For more information, visit West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust website

Update on mental health and learning disability services

At this challenging and unprecedented time, like many of our colleagues across the NHS, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust have needed to make some changes to the way they are providing services to keep staff and service users safe during this challenging time.  Find out more here.