Voluntary Sector Briefing - 1st May 2020

Working in the voluntary and community sector one can become used to the empathy and commitment shown on a daily basis by volunteers, staff, and all the people who use our services, but what I have been amazed about is how individuals, volunteers and countless voluntary and community sector organisations, together with public and private sector organisations have rallied to provide support to communities across our local communities.  From the amazing number of new neighbourhood groups that have sprung up to support our shielded, elderly and isolated people, to all of the previously existing organisations across the county that have redeployed their volunteers, staff, and in some cases even their own family to support people through these difficult times.

Communities 1st is no exception to this.  Our staff have continued to provide the same level, if not a greater level of service than ever before.  We have continued to support our volunteers who, like our staff, have needed to re-adjust to working differently.  Pre-covid19 our organisation used to provide a diverse range of services and projects (around 25 at last count).   Our teams across the organisation - Centre for Voluntary Service (CVS), Volunteer Centre and Wellbeing Services are now nearly solely focused on Covid-19.  I am however pleased to say that our Better Business project restarted this week and has engaged with many schools, care homes and local businesses.  Our Trusted Handyperson Service is also re-starting next week.

I would like to thank everyone who was either already part of the Communities 1st family and those who have recently registered to volunteer or become member organisations.  We have seen a huge demand, with over 3,000 people signing up to volunteer and support their community. We are currently in the process of mobilising volunteers: if you have not heard from us yet, please bear with us.

Although things are hard at the moment as I’ve mentioned, there's some amazing stuff happening. We are gathering stories about positive things that are happening in our local communities during this #coronalockdown.  If you have a story Kindness Story that you would like to share please email us: covid19news@communities1st.org.uk #1stcommunitieskind

If someone has forwarded this to you, you can sign up to receive our e-newsletters directly into your inbox here: www.communities1st.org.uk/newsletter

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: memberservices@communities1st.org.uk and we will prioritise support for your organisation.

On our website you can find a range of resources and support aimed at local charities, community groups, voluntary organisations and social enterprises on issues relating to Covid-19, including:

  • Funding sources – we’re updating our funding sources regularly with the latest information we find
  • Planning and adapting – including staffing issues, governance, managing a funding crisis, digital support, safeguarding and other useful resources (operational issues and guidance on working with different sectors of the community)
  • Useful Covid-19 volunteer introduction videos and documents for your organisation and information about mutual aid groups
  • Changes to services – our Covid-19 Community Directory provides information of local charities and how they’re services have adapted and been affected by the current situation.

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 emailThey 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.  

If you want more information you can visit our website: www.communities1st.org.uk/Covid-19Updates or contact our Voluntary Sector support team on 01727 743018.  



Mental health support for frontline workers

Mental health charities have come together to provide 'round-the-clock' support to people working on the frontline of the pandemic. This includes NHS staff, carers, emergency services and other key workers.

The new service - brought together by Mind, Samaritans, Shout, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation - is called 'Our Frontline' and includes a combination of 1-2-1 support and online resources, toolkits and advice to support their mental health and emotional wellbeing through this challenging time.

Head to the specially developed website ourfrontline.org for more details.


#GivingTuesdayNow is coming on 5 May and it's the perfect time to come together to celebrate and show appreciation for the sector's outstanding response to the crisis.

The global day of unity is a chance to thank all of the essential workers including volunteers and charity workers.  In the run-up to the day, it is also a great moment to play a part in the coinciding campaigns #NeverMoreNeeded and #EveryDayCounts. On the day share your activities using the hashtag #GivingTuesdayNow & tag @givingtuesdayuk in your posts.

You can find all the resources you could need here including a social media toolkit and imagery.

Save our Social Enterprises

Many social enterprises have been falling through the cracks of the current Government support measures, and are unable to access the necessary grants and loans to keep their businesses afloat. In fact, research shows that half the social sector could run out of money by June.

A campaign has been set up as a collaboration between Community Leisure UK, Co-operatives UK, Locality, Plunkett Foundation, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Social Enterprise Mark CIC, Social Enterprise UK, Social Value UK, and UnLtd. The collaboration have written to the Chancellor to outline a four-point action plan to ensure social enterprises receive appropriate support:

For more information and to view their letter and sign the campaign


Just a gentle reminder to keep tweeting, sharing, using the #NeverMoreNeeded on your digital channels. 

Let's make a significant social media noise using the hashtag #NeverMoreNeeded. Share your stories, share your members' stories - tag us in it (@1stcommunities) if you want us to give it a retweet etc. And please, also ask the volunteers and users in your network to do the same.

If you'd like to download the official logo click here. For the Twitter logo its here and finally there is a LinkedIn one here.

Free online training

The Zero Suicide Alliance is a collaborative of National Health Service trusts, businesses and individuals who are all committed to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond. The alliance is ultimately concerned with improving support for people contemplating suicide by raising awareness of and promoting FREE suicide prevention training which is accessible to all. The aims of this training are:

  • to enable people to identify when someone is presenting with suicidal thoughts/behaviour
  • to be able to speak out in a supportive manner, and
  • to empower them to signpost the individual to the correct services or support.

The training can be found at  www.zerosuicidealliance.com/training


haysmacintyre has created a web page to collate, analyse and provide insights on the various financial, tax and accounting measures and initiatives being announced – mainly from governmental departments, but also from other relevant bodies and organisations.

The web page is updated regularly as further announcements and analysis are made. Please visit www.haysmacintyre.com/covid-19-not-for-profit.

Free Mental Health Awareness training for Sport and Physical Activity

Herts Sports Partnership is offering 260 FREE places on Mind’s online Mental Health Awareness in Sport and Physical Activity course, as we firmly believe that those involved in organising and delivering our community sports programmes, will come across a range of mental health issues being experienced by participants, club members, players, coaches, volunteers and officials, as and when we come through the current crisis, and community sporting programmes return to near normal.

This programme is also supporting the #2.6Challenge whereby for every Hertfordshire based person who completes the course, the Partnership will donate £10 to our sister charity – the Herts Disability Sports Foundation which is currently delivering some fantastic virtual programmes for some of the county’s most vulnerable residents. Find out more

FAQs and resources from LawWorks

LawWorks has received many queries about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on small charities and other not-for-profits. In response, the charity has collaborated with its members to produce tailored briefs relevant specifically to small not-for-profit organisations.

These focus on key questions, from “How do I furlough an employee?” and “Can an employee we have furloughed still volunteer for us?” to “How do we hold a remote board meeting / AGM?” and “Our landlord has asked our organisation to leave the premises due to the COVID-19 outbreak. What are our rights and can we challenge this?”. You can find the resources here.

Institute for Voluntary Action Research briefing on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during the Covid-19 crisis

Getting Ready for the Fallout says that there is “considerable anxiety about the long-term impact of Covid-19” in the sector, including the social consequences of current lockdown measures. See more by clicking here.

Traveller Community

The website has some good resources and access to further links for the traveller community and those working with them including funeral advice, education and domestic abuse. www.travellermovement.org.uk/covid-19



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 memberservices@communities1st.org.uk 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. 

Climate Launchpad: Competition for Green Business Entrepreneurs

Submit your idea or innovation with environmental impact.  The competition will help you fast track that idea into a business and bypass all possible pitfalls along the way. You’ll learn how to get your idea funded and launched. If you have a green business idea and have what it takes to become an entrepreneur, then this competition might be for you. To be eligible, you must:  

  • Not have started a business or you started it less than one year ago
  • Have no substantial revenue
  • Have attracted no more than €200,000 in investment
  •  Not yet sold products, solutions or prototypes on commercial terms.

Social Investment Business: Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund

The Resilience & Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF) is a new fund for social enterprises and charities who are experiencing disruption to their normal business model as a result of COVID-19.  It is intended for those organisations who face a problem because expected income and activity has been delayed or disrupted. A loan may help with this, providing working capital until normal business can commence again.  The loan can be used for:  

  • Lending until government payments are received (eg contracts, furlough etc.)
  • Lending to cover delays in trade payments (trade debtors).
  • Lending to support the rapid scaling up of an existing business model to meet an increased demand for services during the crisis.
  • Lending to provide a bridge to cover revenue shortfall for proven and profitable trading activity. Trading or retail models that rely heavily on footfall / shared office space that are likely to continue to be affected by social distancing are unlikely to be suitable/be able to prove viability.

Alpkit Foundation: Grassroots funding support 

Alpkit as a charity normally help people Go Nice Places, Do Good Things. In their response to Covid-19 they have shifted their focus to funding projects that demonstrate an immediate impact on those affected by the Covid-19.

Examples of how their funding can be used includes:

  • Being active in your local community to help elderly or vulnerable people
  • Minimising the impact of self-isolation for those in quarantine and need access to food, medicines or social care
  • Supporting foodbanks and increasing the number of meals on wheels deliveries to support the elderly
  • Supporting those who are homeless or in temporary accommodation
  • Bringing adventure indoors and overcoming the obstacles that prevent us benefiting from going outdoors.

The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust

The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust has announced that it is accelerating its annual Hospice Fund programme, in recognition of the additional pressures many hospices are experiencing due to COVID-19 and the associated restrictions on normal activities. For 2020, the Trust has simplified the application process and amended its normal eligibility criteria. The available funding will be used to provide one-off grants of up to £5,000 to support hospices’ core costs. Applications will only be accepted from hospices that are charities registered in the UK, and are members of either Hospice UK or Together for Short Lives.  The closing date for applications is midnight on the 10th May 2020.

Standard Life Foundation

At Standard Life Foundation they have been considering how they can best meet their mission of tackling financial problems and improving living standards. They have been talking to organisations working in the field, other funders and key stakeholders and following the rapid development of the pandemic.



NHS urges public to get care when they need it

NHS England have launched a campaign urging people to seek medical care if they need it. People are delaying getting every day treatments and are becoming severely - sometimes fatally - ill as a result.  Fear of going to hospital or even the GP, coupled with not wanting to put undue pressure on the NHS would cause 40% of those surveyed not to seek medical help.

See the full details here.


Sport England has launched its #StayInWorkOut campaign to encourage people to keep active during lockdown.  Join the movement, use the hashtag and take a look at their website which has loads of great ideas on how to keep active whilst staying locked down.

Visit their website here.

The Sensory Trust

The Sensory Trust has a selection of activities on its website to help people connect with nature.  Engaging with nature helps improve mental health, and all the activities are easily adaptable for use with people with different abilities, including people of all ages with disabilities, and those with dementia.

Read more here.

Coach AI at Home – Virtual Exercise Companion

Herts Sports Partnership and the University of Hertfordshire have adopted Coach AI – a virtual companion that interacts with individuals via smart phones – to help them make exercise a regular part of their weekly routine.

It takes less than a minute to get started and the programme will give your residents the extra motivation and guidance they may need to stay active, during such challenging times.

The programme is being offered FREE to Hertfordshire residents and can be accessed at https://sportinherts.org.uk/coachai/

Coronavirus guidance for people receiving direct payments

The government has published advice for people who buy care and support through direct payments, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support.

The guidance sets out the main messages for people and organisations that can support planning, and help slow the transmission of the coronavirus as the outbreak progresses across the country.

It’s accompanied by a Q&A, mostly aimed at direct payment holders, that responds to questions and concerns raised by direct payment holders, personal assistants, and charities and organisations that support them. Read now.


Today is #StopFoodWasteDay which is always important. This year it seems even more relevant, following our recent experience of stockpiling and subsequent reports on increased food waste.   So here are some headline-grabbing stats for you:

  • 33% of all food produced globally last year was wasted
  • 25% of the food wasted globally could feed all 795 million undernourished people in the world
  • 45% of fruit and vegetables produced globally is lost or wasted per year

So what can we do? Head over to the dedicated website and take the pledge to become a Food Waste Warrior. There are also recipes, events and some interesting stories.

Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust (HPFT) Mental Health Services

The Wellbeing Service offers short term support to people with mild to moderate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Please visit: www.northessexiapt.nhs.uk/hertfordshire for more information about the service.

HPFT remains open, for more information or to make a referral for services please contact the Single Point of Access (SPA) number (8am - 7pm): 0300 777 0707

Herts Mind Network

Herts Mind Network deliver a number of services including peer support, domestic abuse services, complex needs outreach services, dementia and carers support as well as a range of online services including Meeting Places and Wellbeing Courses. There are a number of sessions including ‘Coronavirus and your Wellbeing’ and ‘Overcoming Anxiety and Fear’.

You can contact them on 020 3727 3600 where your call will be triaged and directed to the most appropriate service or find out more on the website: www.hertsmindnetwork.org

Mind in Mid-Herts

Mind in Mid-Herts deliver a range of services to support individuals who are suffering or who have suffered from mental and emotional distress. Emotional support is available on the telephone during the covid-19 pandemic on 03303 208100 and you can find out more about online social groups and living well courses including ‘Feeling Well’ to reduce feelings of depression and sadness and ‘Learning to Relax’ and ‘Building Courage’ to cope with anxiety on the website www.mindinmidherts.org.uk

Viewpoint is a user involvement charity in Hertfordshire for people with mental health or drug and alcohol problems. For more information on social activities and programmes please see their website www.hertsviewpoint.co.uk or you can also find out more by visiting the Viewpoint Facebook page.

Guideposts is a mental health and wellbeing charity that deliver services including befriending, carer support and support for people on the autism spectrum. For more information please visit www.guideposts.org.uk/hertfordshire-services or call 01923 223554.

Drug and Alcohol services

You can contact Change Grow Live (CGL) Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services from 09:00-19:00 by phoning them on 0800 652 3169 or emailing Herts@cgl.org.uk.  CGL recovery workers are offering support over the phone.

Domestic Abuse

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or worried about someone else who might be you can contact Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline: 08 088 088 088 (freephone Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat/Sun 9am-4pm) or visit the website for more information: www.hertssunflower.org If you are in immediate danger always dial 999

Carers in Herts

Carers in Herts have up to date information, advice and resources on their website and they can also be contacted on 01992 586969 or by email on contact@carersinherts.org.uk.

St Albans Mencap goes Live!

Week 3 of fun packed and interactive live sessions will look as follows. For more information please visit their Facebook page.

  • Monday 4th May
  • Tuesday 5th May
  • Wednesday 6th May
  • Thursday 7th May
  • Friday 8th May

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.