Voluntary Sector Briefing 22nd May 2020

Thank you everyone who responded to our first Covid-19 Sector Survey, we had a great response and this has enabled us to paint a strong picture of the situation and to input this to national datasets (anonymised). Below is what we know from your responses combined with local intelligence. We have now started our second telephone survey, so please do take part if you can – it really helps us to ensure your views, opinions and concerns are heard.

The majority of the voluntary sector has kept going
Around 2/3 of the sector is still operating, either with reduced services, adapted services or enhanced services – you are playing a critical role in supporting people and stemming demand into critical statutory services. About a third have mothballed – generally these are the smaller groups, whose activities are based around face to face meetings and to an extent engage with more vulnerable and therefore isolating people.

There is a slow but steady re-emergence for those who have been closed
Most of those who have closed down are planning to reopen using digital or good old phone/mail – this is taking some time to plan and implement but at present only a tiny handful see themselves as giving up entirely. And I hope it goes without saying that we are here to help you – just get in touch!

Funding really matters in this regard
Of those who are closed, funding is almost as strong a factor as isolating for health reasons. Almost a third had applied for financial help and were awaiting the outcome.

Volunteering has been massively disrupted – positive and negative
Disruption is the only word I can think of to summarise here. Whilst almost 80% were continuing to use volunteers and many reported increased levels of volunteering, some two thirds cited older volunteers self-isolating and hence unavailable to volunteer. You should all be aware by now that Communities 1st can broker volunteers aplenty at present, but we can also help you rethink your recruitment, roles, and management of volunteers to take on more, different and remote tasks, so as usual, drop us a line.

Recovery is now
Recovery started only a few days ago and is evolving each day, so whether it is funding, volunteers or wider support that you need, please do not hesitate to get in touch – even just to use us as a sounding board - as often as you need.

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 you are are a charity or community group and you need additional support to deliver services during the pandemic, Communities 1st is here to help. We can offer advice on issues that affect charities, from fundraising to governance and managing volunteers.

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.

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 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.


COVID-19 Testing for VCF Sector Staff & Volunteers
Volunteers can now be tested for COVID-19 if they or a member of their household is symptomatic and so they are self-isolating. They can self-register by submitting their details here where they will be able to add more people from their household.

COVID-19 Testing for Employers
To obtain a log-in employers should email portalservicedesk@dhsc.gov.uk with the organisation name, sector, as well as the name and email address of up to two people who will use the portal. Once employer details have been verified two log-in credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal. More information available here.

The situation is changing rapidly so to keep up to date - Check the Government’s latest guidance on Coronavirus testing.


Stronger Together Networks

We have adapted our Stronger Together Network meetings to take place on Zoom. Three meetings took place this week, with three to take place next 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:

  • The Children & Young People Network – Wed 27 May: 10.30am – 12noon
  • The Disability Network - Tue 26 May: 10.30am – 12noon
  • The Transport Network – Tue 26 May: 2pm – 3.30pm

Please contact Isobel or Christine on 01727 743018 or email memberservices@communities1st.org.uk for zoom meeting details.

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.

Each year the Volunteering Herts partnership hold a conference celebrating excellence in volunteer management and with the events of COVID-19 dominating world affairs in 2020 good volunteer management is #NeverMoreNeeded.

We want to thank those who have continued to support volunteers in delivering services throughout the year. Special tribute will be paid to those involved in supporting the historic effort responding to COVID-19 crisis.

Owing to current events our conference this year will be a virtual one. We have put together an unmissable schedule of events and we’d really love you to join us.

The event will be going live between 10:30am and 12:30pm on Wednesday 3rd June. Our Keynote speaker this year is HM Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Robert Voss CBE StJ.

Sign up now using the following link: www.eventbrite.com/e/the-volunteering-hertfordshire-annual-conference-tickets-105978295936.

Better Business - Inspire KS3 Masterclasses – Business Volunteers wanted

Communities 1st will soon be launching an online webinar version of its Inspire KS3 Schools Masterclasses. Volunteers from a range of professional backgrounds give talks to students at Key Stage 3 about their jobs, how they got into them and what it’s like to work in their industries. If you’d like to take part, please click to complete a short questionnaire and we’ll get in touch with more details.

Share your volunteering stories

We are inviting local voluntary groups and organisations to share their volunteering videos, photos and stories with us as part of Volunteers Week.  This is an opportunity to recognise the valuable work of volunteers who make a difference in our communities. We'll also be highlighting the work of local volunteers through our regional and national partners - so please let us know if you and your volunteers would like to be featured as part of Volunteers Week 2020.   
There's a few ways for your group or organisation to share your volunteering stories with us, including by email and social media using the details below: 
Email: volunteer@communities1st.org.uk  
Twitter: @1stcommunities   
We're keen to hear from volunteers themselves about the fantastic work they've been doing for your group or organisation, including information about their role, why they decided to volunteer, and what their experiences have been like - whether that's before or during the COVID-19 pandemic. We'd also like to hear from YOU about how volunteers have supported your group, so please get in touch to share your stories ahead of Volunteers Week 2020! 

Small Charity Week is just around the corner!

Small Charity Week is happening during 15th-20th June. The week will be an opportunity to highlight the work of small charities across the UK, especially at this time when we are #NeverMoreNeeded. This year The Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) will be working with Localgiving, NAVCA, NCVO and Small Charities Coalition to bring a week of activities and events to support your charity.

Keep telling the world why your organisation is #NeverMoreNeede 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.

Valuing Volunteer Management Training – recruiting and retaining volunteers

This interactive and engaging course explores the challenges of recruiting, retaining and managing volunteers.  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.

Alcumus: Covid-19 Health and Safety
Alcumus describe themselves as the UK’s market-leading provider of technology led compliance and risk management solutions. Their purpose is to help organisations be safer, healthier, and stronger.

They have free COVID-19 Health and Safety documents that can be downloaded. These include:

  • COVID-19 Return to Work Guidance Pack
  • COVID-19 Workplace Health & Safety Inspection Checklist
  • COVID-19 Risk Assessment Template
  • Checklist and Risk Assessment for Individual Worker

Click here for download links for all documents

We recommend that you read this in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive guidance.

Food safety for community cooking and food banks

As the lockdown continues in a “stay alert” capacity, it is important to continue to provide food for people in self-isolation due to coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms etc.

Food provided must comply with food law and be safe to eat. The food standards agency has produced some guidance to help you carry out this role. The guidance covers:

  • Registration
  • Food hygiene when cooking for your community or donating food
  • Food temperature
  • Redistributing food and donating to food banks
  • Businesses donating to food banks
  • Best before advice for specific food products
  • Allergen guidance when cooking for your community or donating food
  • Food that needs extra care
  • Meal containers
  • Delivering guidance

Find out 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 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. 

Active Local Funding
The focus of this funding and programme of work is to help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 and the widening of the inequalities in sport and physical activity.  The target audiences are: Lower Socio-Economic Groups, Black, Asian Minority Ethnic Communities, Disabled People and People with Long-Term Health Conditions (LTC). 

It has been allocated for community groups/organisations that work in Hertfordshire’s Active Local areas (Waltham Cross, Wormley and Turnford, Grovehill, Hertford Sele, Cowley Hill, Jackmans, Sopwell, Bedwell, South Oxhey, Holywell, Peartree) and use physical activity or sport to help with wellbeing.

For further information, please contact Jamie or Richard on 01707 281201.

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.


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.


Coronavirus Community Support Fund
The Government’s new Coronavirus Community Support Fund opened for applications today, Friday 22nd May.

This new funding stream makes available £200m in Government funding that will be aimed primarily at small to medium organisations in England.

The Fund has two key objectives:

  • To increase community support to vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 crisis, through the work of civil society organisations.
  • To reduce temporary closures of essential charities and social enterprises, ensuring services for vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19 have the financial resources to operate, and so reduce the burden on public services.

Grants will allow organisations to meet service costs, where they are experiencing increased demand and/or short-term income disruption. Grants will also allow organisations to refocus services to address more immediate beneficiary needs in light of COVID-19.



Greggs Foundation
The foundation provides small grants of up to £2,000 in areas where Greggs operate. Funding is for work in a socially deprived area, or with Older people, People with disabilities, People with caring responsibilities, Homeless people.  Click here for more information.

Grocers' Charity
Financial support for UK-registered charities, with the selection of recipients being regularly reviewed in line with a policy to support specific areas of need. The relief of poverty (including youth poverty) and help for the disabled usually take priority, with medicine, the arts, heritage, the Church and the elderly also designated. Click here for more information.

The Football Association: Pitch Preparation Fund
Alongside the Football Association, The Premier League, the Government and Sport England have collaborated through their Football Foundation to launch the new ‘Pitch Preparation Fund’.

The fund is here to try and support as many clubs and organisations as possible to be ready for when football returns. Every applicant must be a club or organisation with a minimum of 12 months’ security of tenure over the pitches they wish to improve by freehold, leasehold or licence, and have the legal responsibility for maintaining them.

It can be used for such things as: grass cutting, line marking and weed killing etc. For 3G pitches it can be used for deep cleaning etc.  Any work that has been completed since The FA suspended football on the 16 March 2020 is eligible to be funded.  Details of the full criteria and eligibility can be found here.

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs:  Covid-19 Food Charity Grant Scheme
If you run a front-line food aid charity in England, you can apply for a grant of at least £30,000 up to a maximum of £100,000 to help you continue to provide food to the vulnerable

You’re eligible to apply if you are unable to meet an increased demand for food from vulnerable individuals or supporting charities or you have the capacity to distribute all of the food purchased under this grant by 9 August 2020.

You can apply for the grant to provide for people:

  • unable to afford food
  • who have moved into temporary accommodation as a result of COVID-19, for example those who have left home due to domestic abuse, newly released prisoners, the newly homeless

You’ll need to provide details of your current food distribution activities. If you receive food from the Fare Share network, you are still eligible to apply for this grant. The deadline for applications is 6 July 2020.

Further information and details of how to apply are available here.

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust: Armed Forces Covid-19 Impact Programme
The Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund are administering the Ministry of Defence funding to ensure that people from armed forces communities can keep accessing important services, where resources for these services have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Armed forces charities and community interest companies can apply. Grants of up to £60,000 can be applied for. In exceptional circumstances, grants of up to £125,000 or more may be awarded.

Organisations must be working in one of nine key areas:

  • Support to the elderly (including care homes)
  • Mental and physical health
  • Welfare
  • Domestic violence
  • Housing
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Service families (including childcare)
  • Bereavement
  • Employment

£300k funding available through Clinks
Working with HM Prison and Probation Service, Clinks - the criminal justice charity - has been given £300k to share with organisations working with people in the criminal justice system and who have an annual income of less than £500k.

Bids should be directly related to Covid-19 and meet an immediate requirement or anticipated gap in provision.

Bidding opens this week and the funding is available for six months, or until the funding runs out.

Click here for further details.


If you are looking for a good way to spend time during a pandemic, Alison.com could have the answer. Alison offers over 1500 free courses with the option to purchase the certificate after taking the course. Courses cover many topics, from Business and Marketing to IT, Science and even the notorious Coronavirus course, which has been translated to most major languages in the world.

NHS in Hertfordshire is still here to help you get the treatment you need over the Spring bank holiday

The local NHS is still here to help you get the treatment you need over this coming Spring bank holiday.

The bank holiday weekend means that some pharmacies and GP practices will be closed on Monday 25 May.  However, the good news is that there are pharmacies open, dispensing advice as well as medicines.  To find one near you, visit: https://hertsvalleysccg.nhs.uk/your-services/local-services/find_a_service.

As well as advice from pharmacists, don’t forget that NHS 111 online is here for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year if you urgently need health advice.

Urgent treatment is also still available at local hospital urgent treatment centres. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust 'minors' department in Watford General Hospital A&E is open 24 hours. Hemel Hempstead Urgent Treatment Centre is open 08.00 - 22.00 every day. Both departments see adult patients with minor injuries.  The children's emergency department at Watford General Hospital is also open.

Further details of how to access urgent treatment at other NHS Trusts who cover our local area can be found on their websites:

Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital

Trust launches ‘round the clock’ enhanced mental health support

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (HFPT) is providing increased access to help and support for people in Hertfordshire who are experiencing a mental health crisis, looking for mental health help or just need to talk.

Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0300 777 0707.

Herts residents experiencing a mental health crisis now also have the option to access our team of mental health professionals directly via the NHS 111 service. Selecting option 2 for mental health services will automatically direct Herts callers to the 24/7 HPFT helpline team.

A clinician specialising in children and young people’s mental health is also available on the helpline number, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They provide specialist advice to families and other professionals for children and young people in a mental health crisis and can also arrange an assessment if required.

Living Room Herts
People who suffer from any addiction that need help and support can call Living Room Herts to discuss their needs.  The service delivers group counselling therapy via Zoom (during the pandemic), but usually takes the form of group therapy in three centres – St Albans, Stevenage and Watford.  They also support the loved ones and carers of people suffering with an addiction. The lockdown has seen heightened needs for their services generally and they want to help people to have coping strategies that divert them away from drugs, alcohol or behavioural addictions, by connecting with other people who have experienced the same or similar issues.

www.livingroomherts.org 0300 365 0304 and out of hours helpline (Family Lives) 0808 800 2222.

In normal circumstances, bereavement can be a lonely and isolating experience, and these feelings can be made worse by the impact of self-isolation and social distancing measures which are currently in place. 

Local Bereavement Support is available from Peace Hospice Care, who have a team of volunteer bereavement counsellors and run regular bereavement groups. Tel: 03332 340 868 and ask for the Bereavement Support Team.

Cruse Bereavement Care Hertfordshire provide telephone support to bereaved people via a telephone helpline. You can access support on 01707 278389 Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.  For helpful resources see the Cruse website.

InTouch is a countywide emotional support line for older people, open Monday to Friday 9am – 4:30pm. Tel:  01992 629 358 OR 01992 634 964 OR 07538 954 189 Email: InTouch@ageukherts.org.uk.

Join stakeholder reference group on hospital plans for residents of west Hertfordshire
Over the last couple of months West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Herts Valleys CCG have been busy responding to COVID-19. The outbreak hasn’t diminished our ambition; to provide patients, staff and the community with new buildings and up-to-date hospital facilities. We are still aiming for new buildings to open in 2025.

An outline business case (OBC) is being developed, in line with HM Treasury guidelines. It will revisit the case for change and the preferred way forward identified in the Strategic Outline Case (SOC) last year. As part of this work we would very much like to involve interested people from across west Hertfordshire to join our stakeholder reference group.