Voluntary Sector Briefing - 15th May 2020

Life is very strange and challenging at the moment, not least for Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations and our beneficiaries. Some of us have had to furlough staff and close services, while others are supporting huge increases in their number of beneficiaries.

Challenging as the present is for us all, it feels like we are in the lull before the economic storm Covid-19 will leave in its wake. Charity reserves will start to run dry with no means to recoup lost income. The local voluntary sector has been a lifeline during the immediate crisis but looks likely to have to retrench just when we should be moving into “post-crisis” support mode, when the sector will be needed more than ever as demand for services spikes.  

As a sector, we must also prepare ourselves for the far more difficult, and much more costly, challenge that awaits us post-emergency: “recovery” and “renewal”.  Our CVS Team are undertaking a second telephone survey with member organisations to understand how they are responding to the current situation and the future plans post-crisis.  This information will enable us understand the real state of the voluntary and community sector in Hertsmere and St Albans and to inform local authorities, Hertfordshire County Council and national voluntary sector infrastructure organisations such as NCVO and NAVCA.

We have adapted our Stronger Together Network meetings to take place on Zoom over the next few weeks.  The focus of these meetings will be around moving on from the immediate crisis response, and thinking about the first stages of recovery/easing of lock down.  If you would like to come along to network, share ideas and best practice you would be very welcome. Please see details below. 

Kindness Stories
We want to gather stories about positive things that are happening in our local communities during this #coronalockdown.  If you have a 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.

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.

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.


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.

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 their services have adapted and been affected by the current situation.

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.  


Stronger Together Network

We have adapted our Stronger Together Network meetings to take place on Zoom over the next few weeks.  The focus of these meetings will be around moving on from the immediate crisis response, and thinking about the first stages of recovery/easing of lock down, including:

  • Service delivery
  • Volunteer offer
  • Lost/ reduced income
  • Future opportunities
  • Achievements during covid-19
  • Building on collaboration

If you would like to come along to network, share ideas and best practice you would be very welcome.  There are 6 Stronger Together Networks:

  • The Mental Health Network – Tue 19 May: 10.30am – 12noon
  • The Children & Young People Network – Wed 27 May: 10.30am – 12noon
  • The Transport Network – Wed 20 May: 2pm – 3.30pm
  • The Older People Network – Tue 19 May: 2pm – 3.30pm
  • The Culture and Environment Network – Wed 20 May: 10.30am – 12noon
  • The Disability Network - Tue 26 May: 10.30am – 12noon

Please contact Isobel Hatfield on 020 3940 4870 or email Isobel and Christine at memberservices@communities1st.org.uk for zoom meeting details.

Valuing Volunteer Management Training – recruiting and retaining volunteers

This interactive and engaging one-day course explores the challenges of recruiting, retaining and managing volunteers. It is ideal for any staff who have responsibility for supporting or managing volunteers in their role. As volunteers play an ever more vital role in the way our organisations are run this course could not be more timely. Best practise in volunteer management is something we all need to be aware of.

The full day’s course is split into two halves to give participants more choice.  The morning session is focussed on the recruitment process the afternoon is geared towards the ongoing management and motivation of your volunteers.

It’s also a really great opportunity to begin the process of working towards achieving the Six-Point Promise. This is a solid affirmation of your commitment to the pursuit of excellence in volunteer management. It gives potential funders evidence of the quality service they look for and potential volunteers can be more confident that they will be valued and supported by your organisation.

Thursday 25 June 2020
10am – 12.30pm - Recruiting Volunteers
2pm - 4.30pm - Managing Volunteers

Herts voluntary organisations: £25 half-day or £45 full-day (includes handbook)
Statutory organisations: £50 half-day or £90 full-day (includes handbook)

For further information email Volunteering Herts at info@volunteeringherts.uk or call 01707 274861

Volunteering Herts Valuing Volunteer Management Conference

Now in its 13th year, the Valuing Volunteer Management Conference this year will take place via zoom on Wednesday 3rd June.   The revised programme is just being finalised.  Places are limited to 90, so please email info@volunteeringherts.uk to book your ‘virtual seat’.

Dementia Friends Training

We’re delighted to say that this week we’re on track to have close to 100 new dementia friends as part of our pilot with The Alzheimer’s Society.  With more online sessions booked we hope to have a lot more dementia friends being created.  It’s great that our volunteers are learning how to challenge their own perceptions of dementia and treat those living with the condition with kindness and understanding.

Sunday 17th – 2pm – 3pm  – Book here

Thursday 21st – 1pm – 2pm  Book here

Friday 22nd – 11am – 12noon  Book here

Saturday 23rd – 3pm – 4pm  Book here

Keep telling the world why your organisation is #NeverMoreNeeded than now

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

Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October

This week the Chancellor announced an extension to the current furlough system.

From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The government will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period.

Full details of the announcement can be found here

Contingency planning and Financial Implications

NCVO have produced some guidance on contingency planning and the financial implications of the current crisis.

Charity Retail Association Reopening Pack

The second draft of the CRA's Reopening Pack is available for download. 

The pack consists of helpful guidance for when the green light to open up shops begins to shine, and provides some suggestions of things to think about in the meantime.

As the pack is being updated regularly in response to feedback and as government guidance changes, please do send the CRA any comments and feedback.

You can view the pack here.


The Government has launched a plan to tackle loneliness and social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing.

As part of this plan, national organisations working to tackle loneliness and build social connections are invited to apply for a share of £5m funding.

There is also a toolkit, resources and advice page on their website which you can delve into.

Accounts and tax returns

You can apply to extend your accounts filing deadline with Companies House if you cannot send your accounts because of an event that’s outside of your control. Due to Covid-19, you can apply for an immediate 3 month extension if your company is affected by coronavirus.

As a charitable company or a social enterprise such as a community interest company or a company limited by guarantee, you are legally required to complete a return to the regulator companies house. To qualify for this extension, you must apply before your filing deadline. You may not be eligible if you’ve already extended your filing deadline, or shortened your accounting period.

To apply for an extension due to coronavirus you must apply online. Details of how to apply can be found here.

Confidential Support for St Albans community groups

If you are a staff member or volunteer working for a community group or charity during this pandemic period, you might be feeling you need some emotional support yourself. If so, we are here to provide you with a trained listener and a confidential space as well as practical information to enable you to continue delivering the valuable service you offer to our local communities.

The Counselling Foundation, in partnership with St Albans City and District Council, has set up a free and confidential helpline service for you.

Your issues could be due to the pressure of helping others in distress, working in your home environment, bereavement, concerns about your health or health of those around you, or simply wanting to talk or find resources.

Although the sessions will not be counselling, you will be talking to counsellors who are trained and work within the Foundation’s strict confidentiality boundaries.

All you will need to do is email helpline@counsellingfoundation.org and someone will contact you to arrange a phone or online call. Funded by St Albans City and District Council.

Amendment to insolvency law – relevance to charities and social enterprises:

On 14 May, the government amend insolvency law to give companies breathing space and keep trading while they explore options for rescue.

This was initially announced on 28 March, but has now been extended in light of the government’s update to lockdown rules earlier this week.  This will enable companies to continue buying much-needed supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue.

The temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions, retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months, will enable company directors to keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.  The press release on this can be found here.

To understand how this is relevant to a charity, Bates Wells have produced a guide called “Charity Governance and Solvency: A Coronavirus Guide” view here.  Aspects of the guide might also be useful for social enterprises.

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

On 12 May the charity commission updated their alert providing information and advice for charities about coronavirus (COVID-19) related fraud and cybercrime.

It provides an update to their scam email and protect your devices sections. Including a free webinar that can be accessed at your leisure. It highlights some of the common ways that charities may be affected by fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic and provide some simple prevention tips. Read more.


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. 

Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner's Action Fund
Grants of up to £5,000 are available for projects that are helping to reduce crime and make Hertfordshire a safer place to live. www.hertscf.org.uk/pcc-action-fund.

Crowdfund Hertfordshire
Crowdfunder are working with a number of partners across Hertfordshire, helping to make great ideas happen through a combination of expert crowdfunding coaching, events and grants.

Do you have a great idea for a project or initiative in Hertfordshire that needs funding?

For any queries relating to these funds please contact Hertfordshire Community Foundation at ana.siewniak@hertscf.org.uk


Ecclesiastical Insurance
Nominate a charity to win a donation of £1,000. Ecclesiastical Insurance is inviting nominations to its £1 million Movement for Good Awards.

The Youth Endowment Fund
The Youth Endowment Fund has opened a new £6.5m COVID-19 round of grant funding to support vulnerable young people at risk of youth violence. Of the total fund, 50% will be reserved for charities and social enterprises.

It is expected that the average grant will be around £50,000. The minimum organisations can apply for is £25,000.  Funding will focus on two work areas:

  • Digital/virtual delivery of programmes
  • Face-to-face activity that can be delivered whilst adhering to social distancing/stay at home guidelines

For more information click here.

Heritage Lottery Fund - Heritage Enterprise
The Heritage Enterprise process is for projects that seek to achieve economic growth by investing in heritage. It is aimed at enterprising community organisations and commercial organisations working in partnership with community organisations to help them rescue neglected historic buildings and sites and return them to a viable productive use. You can apply for a grant from £250k to £5m. Deadline is 1 June. Full details here.

D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust funds United Kingdom Registered Charities operating in the UK in the fields of the advancement of the arts, health and medical welfare and environmental protection or improvement. The majority of the Trust’s grants are single grants over a one-year period. Occasionally longer-term grants (usually up to 3 years) are agreed by the Trustees when deemed to have particular merit. Deadline is 1 June. Full details here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Apply for the Food Charities Grant Fund
Frontline food aid charities can now apply for a grant of up to £100k to provide food to vulnerable people within your community.

Eligible organisations are those who are unable to meet the increasing demands for food and can distribute food purchased by 9 August. This grant is not to provide food for the extremely clinically vulnerable, who are already being supported by government.

The grant scheme closes on 6 July. Full details here.

Strengthening Civil Society programme: new funding to support civil society through the pandemic
The Baring Foundation has introduced three new funding streams to support civil society to undertake legal action related to COVID-19.

This funding will run throughout 2020 and represents a commitment of up to £1m to supporting civil society at this time.

The first deadline is 28 May with more deadlines outlined in the application form. Full details can be found here

Social Investment Business
Charities and social enterprises can now apply to a £25m emergency loan fund for financial support during the coronavirus crisis. See more here.  

Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme
The latest round of the Energy Redress Funding Scheme is now open for applications. There is £13m available to help support vulnerable energy consumers and reduce fuel poverty.

If you want to find out more about the application process and future funding rounds head over to their website.


Update on gambling addiction services available

GamCare - the charity which supports those with an addiction to gambling - has posted a blog outlining which of their services are still available during the lockdown.

Their helpline is open 24/7 plus they have online forums and chatroom sessions to provide additional support. Treatment services are being done over the phone - click here to see the full details of their support.

Top Tips for resilience at home
A new group has been set up to oversee the mental health and wellbeing support available to Hertfordshire residents and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hertfordshire’s Behaviour Change Unit has developed a Top Tips for resilience at home infographic.

A series of guides to support people through bereavement are available on the county council website.

The St Albans Big Iftar 2020

You are invited to join St Albans Big Iftar Steering Group on Wednesday 20th May and fast for the day.

17 Hours of no food and no water, are you up for the challenge?

Come together this Ramadan with your friends, colleagues and neighbours to experience a day like no other.

To find out more and register online go to www.theaddaclub.co.uk.  You can also get an Iftar pack filled with information on Ramadan, tips to get you through the day and some delicious sweet treats to break your fast. The money raised from the packs will go to St Albans and District Food Bank.

Want to shout about your fast and encourage others? Why don’t you video yourself saying “I’ll fast for the day on 20th May” and share it around! Just watch the video here to get the idea. www.youtu.be/cKfRIEbo-rE.

So join in and fast for a day, and come together as one community, #alonetogther.

Healthwatch Hertfordshire

Healthwatch Hertfordshire are looking to understand the experiences people have had over recent weeks and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their care and treatment. To do this they have created three different surveys for people to share their views.

One survey focuses on how coronavirus has affected mental health, one survey is specifically for people who have been advised to shield to understand their experiences, and the final survey focuses on health and social care more generally. Please find below the links to each survey:

Shielding: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RJQ9RX2

Mental Health: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RJDLQ23

Health & Social Care: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RC62QGV

All the links can also be found on their website: www.healthwatchhertfordshire.co.uk/covid-19-surveys/.

Fighting against Gender Bias and Equity

Community Action Dacorum are carrying out research through focus groups and online survey from stake holders and organisations to see if there is training available in this subject and there are gaps. Once they have compiled the findings they will be creating online training.  If you could complete the survey, it would help to capture wider viewpoints.