Communities 1st Voluntary Sector Briefing 24th April 2020

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.

As you’re aware Communities 1st has been working with a range of local organisations to set up a volunteering hub to recruit and place volunteers during the coronavirus crisis and it’s great when we receive feedback direct from the people we’re helping.  “Thank you for my shopping I received yesterday, everything was exactly what I had asked for and needed.” 

As we navigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, people across the country are relying on Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations, the essential support they provide and how they shape our society for the better. Not-for-profit organisations make our communities stronger. Our unique role and services are invaluable right now and will be essential when our country begins to heal and re-builds.

Following on from the #EveryDayCounts campaign, we want to celebrate and highlight the vital and amazing work that all charities do.  We are asking you and your organisation to showcase the way you support and improve lives using the hashtag #NeverMoreNeeded in your social media. 

Here are a few of my reflections on the past four weeks:

  • Amazing response from communities to volunteering call and supporting their neighbours
  • We have well established and trusted relationships between the VCSE and local councils which are key to the successful local response
  • System wide solutions are being developed to ensure a focused approach including totally new ways of working and digitally enhanced support for communities. But we need to capture longer term learning in case of reoccurrence and the wider benefits these may bring
  • Sector resilience continues to be a significant concern and we’re busy working on getting a clear local/regional view to ensure we’re able to feed this into local and national conversations to ensure our VCSE is supported while it supports the COVID-19 response
  • Still some lack of clarity around of delivery of the NHS programme and we’re really trying to understand how this national programme will link with county, district, parishes and VCSE
  • Need to understand likely timeframes (peak, removal of lockdown and recovery) to assist in mobilisation of necessary solutions/support.  We have already started thinking about the recovery phase and what this plan might look like – but please do contact us if you have any ideas!

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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 on 01727 743018 or via email: and we will prioritise support for your organisation.

Do you need volunteers? 

Please let us know asap if you are in need of volunteers by emailing us at with ORGANISATION NEEDING VOLUNTEERS in the subject line.

Compassionate Community Connector Programme

This programme is being co-ordinated by Communities 1st in response to Covid-19 and covers the Districts and Boroughs of St Albans, Hertsmere, Welwyn/Hatfield, Broxbourne and East Herts in conjunction with many 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.

Be a Good Neighbour

We want to encourage kindness and neighbourliness, but we want people to stay safe so 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.  




The charity sector has never more been in the public eye and we want to use this momentum to raise the public profile of the invaluable work charities do and why the public must continue to support it.  

We are asking you to use the hashtag to sustain the sector’s profile in the following weeks. 

To take part, you just need to tell your story and why your organisation and charities are #NeverMoreNeeded, or use the hashtag in your existing social comms. If you have any other ideas of how to use the campaign, please share.

Claim system now open for furloughed staff

You can now make your claim for the 80% of furloughed staff salaries through HMRC's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Before you make your claim:

  • Read all the available guidance at GOV.UK
  • Make sure you have all the information and calculations you need beforehand (calculator guidance is here)
  • Take a look through the step-by-step guide

Then you are ready to make your claim here.

Fundraising during challenging times

Funding is a critical topic for all charities but during a national crisis there is increased pressure on existing funding sources, especially for charities that rely on trading. At the same, there are potential new options opening up as the government and other bodies offer alternative funding opportunities for those organisations that might be struggling.

The principle of fundraising is that trustees should agree, set, and monitor your charity’s overall approach to fundraising. The Charity Commission guidance on trustee duties and charity funding states that your fundraising plan should take account of risks, your charity’s values, its relationship with donors and the wider public, as well as its income needs and expectations.

Manage financial difficulties in your charity caused by coronavirus  

On 23 April the charity commission guidance published the manage financial difficulties in your charity caused by coronavirus guidance.
They understand that many trustees are having to cope with serious financial challenges that will have a major effect on their charities and those who depend on them. They have produced some guidance for trustees, especially smaller charities, who may need help facing difficult situations or decisions.

The guidance helps you to:

  • Consider your current financial situation
  • Look at options for minimising costs and protecting and increasing income
  • How to keep the charity’s operations and finances under regular review and take any additional actions
  • Know what to do if your charity cannot continue to operate because of the financial problems caused by COVID-19

Charity Commission: How to donate safely during Ramadan

On 23 April the charity commission published guidance on how to donate safely during Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. Ramadan is a time of huge generosity among British Muslims, with people donating to charities. Increased online giving is expected this Ramadan, with a reduction in cash collections, as mosques and community centres remain closed to reduce social contact.  The charity commission is giving advice on how to give safely and securely - find out more.

Spark & Co – an organisation that runs community events for women – has created a resource hub for BAME groups, which have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.

In it, you will find curated links to organisations and information designed to help those from BAME backgrounds.  Take a look.

Virgin Money Giving are waiving its platform fee, normally set at 2%, on all donations until the end of lockdown. See more here.  



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.

Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF) - grants of £5,000 available

HCF have grants of up to £5,000 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.

Herts Sports Partnership have produced a funding newsletter which is extremely useful for sports groups and can be found on their website.

It includes both local, national and sport specific funding packages. 

The 2.6 Challenge

The organisers of the UK's largest mass-participation sports events have come together to create The 2.6 Challenge to raise vital funds to help save the UK’s charities.  The challenge is due to take place on the 26th April, the day that thousands of people would be running or tuning into the London Marathon. It is encouraging people to take on a challenge or initiative of their choice, on that day that is 2.6 or 26 of something - 2.6 sofa dips; 2.6km cycle; 26 laps of your garden etc. - and to then fund raise or donate to a charity of your choice.  There’s a great video here which is a summary of what the campaign is all about.

Jewish Child's Day Grants

Jewish Childs Day aim to assist disabled, disadvantaged, neglected or abused Jewish children worldwide. Deadline 30 April.

Erasmus + Youth Funding

Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. Each year, UK youth organisations and young people can access Erasmus+ funding to support life-changing international opportunities. Deadline 30 April.

Magdalen Hospital Trust

The fund benefits vulnerable children and young adults, especially those at risk of sexual and other forms of exploitation. Deadline 30 April.

Golsoncott Foundation

The Golsoncott Foundation aims to promote, maintain, improve and advance the education of the public in the arts generally and in particular the fine arts and music. This includes providing access to the arts for young people and developing new audiences. Deadline 30 April.

The Clothworkers’ Emergency Capital Programme will award small capital grants of up to £5,000 for essential capital items to adapt or increase services in response Covid-19 pandemic.

Elton John Aids Foundation (UK) has launched a COVID-19 Emergency Fund 

The RAFT (Rapid Action by The Fore Trusts) programme has been launched to support small charities and social enterprises adversely affected by the crisis with grants up to £5,000.

Social Investment Business (UK) is a new £25 million fund for social enterprises and charities who are experiencing disruption to their normal business.

Funding to Support Charities and Communities Affected by Coronavirus (UK)

The Yorkshire Building Society’s Charitable Foundation has launched a Coronavirus Response Fund to support registered charities that are helping local communities affected by the coronavirus. Funding will support groups and activities that help vulnerable people who are self-isolating, co-ordinate community response, provide emergency support such as food banks, help with loss of income and ensure health and wellbeing is maintained. The £100,000 fund will make donations of between £250 and £2,000 to help with costs such as running costs, staff and travel costs, and volunteer expenses. Applications can be made at any time and will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.



NHS advice on looking after your mental health during COVID-19, includes physical health and apps as well as how to look after yourself while staying at home. Click here.
NHS 10-minute workouts – the website provides instructions on carrying out the exercises. Click here.

NHS Health at Home Toolkit and Assets

The COVID-19 outbreak means the public need to stay at home except for very limited reasons.

If people need an NHS service, they should try to do it online from home first (unless there is a serious or life-threatening emergency or they are advised to attend an existing appointment for ongoing treatment).

The NHS Health at Home campaign will signpost to useful information about how the public can contact their GP, order repeat prescriptions, manage their wellbeing and existing conditions – without leaving their home.

You can download the toolkit and assets to use on your digital channels and print resources here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): increased risk of fraud and cybercrime against charities 

The charity commission has published a news story about increased risk of fraud and cybercrime against charities.  Fraudsters are exploiting the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to carry out fraud and cybercrime. Police have reported an increase in coronavirus related scams. The charity commission alert was issued to help charities minimise the risk of becoming a victim of such frauds and cyber-attacks. They feel all charities, especially those providing services and supporting local communities during the coronavirus crisis, could be targeted by fraudsters. 

Fraud has included:

  • Purchasing PPE equipment and the goods not arriving once the financial transaction has been completed
  • A charity employee working from home receives an email purporting to be from a legitimate company providing services for the charity. The email asks that future payments be made to an alternative bank account, which is controlled by the fraudster. 

 For more details and how to minimise the risk

Shape Up

The Watford FC Community Sports Education Trust Shape Up is a free 12 week weight loss course for men aged 18-65 who live in Hertfordshire with a BMI of 30+.

Shape Up will still operate during the lockdown via interactive video and they will help the participants on the courses get 150 minutes of exercise per week by running a timetable of short online classes each week which are there to support and enhance the course

The sessions begin next week and participants can sign up now for the Tuesday 12.30-2pm sessions or the Thursday 6-7.30pm sessions.

If you could please share this information and the posters as far are you can with your work and personal network the Shape Up team would be incredibly grateful.  

Warnings and advice about COVID-19 scams

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.