Voluntary Sector Briefing 29th May 2020

A week may be a long time in politics, as the saying goes, but a week during a global pandemic feels even longer.

Like many, at times, I’ve found the pace of change, and the pace of work that accompanied it, difficult to keep up with. As a sector we have done a phenomenal job to respond at speed, but I am thankful that we are starting to have a little more time now to draw breath, reflect and plan for the next phase.

One of my roles during the last few weeks has been to monitor the intelligence coming into Communities 1st about the impact of the pandemic on our members and the wider voluntary sector. These insights have been invaluable in shaping our response and we are grateful to everyone who has been in touch.

For the first few weeks, the overriding feelings were of confusion (about where to get information) and anxiety (about funding, about staffing, and about how best to continue to provide services and support).  As time went on, queries started to become more specific: how to use digital tools to connect staff and to redesign supports; how to access funding to survive, or respond to support that is needed in their communities; how to understand the many implications of remote working; how to navigate government guidance; how to access furlough support. These have shaped the content we put on the Resource Hub

In the last week or so, the tone of the feedback has noticeably started to change, as organisations appear to move out of immediate crisis and start to think about the practicalities of an eventual move out of lockdown and beyond. They are also thinking about others: about shielding groups whose lockdown will last even longer; about the people whose mental health is being impacted by social isolation; about the inequalities being exacerbated by the pandemic and the economic downturn.

Your experiences are critical in helping us make the right choices, so please keep telling us how coronavirus is affecting you and your organisation.

You can:

  • Respond to our telephone survey that Christine and her team of volunteers are currently undertaking – if your organisation hasn’t yet received a call, they soon will be ????   
  • Send an email to memberservices@communities1st.org.uk or call Christine or Isobel on 01727 743018
  • Share your stories as part of the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign

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 are here to help

If you 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

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.

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
  • Resource Hub – 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

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.  


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.  

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.

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  

Instagram: @communities1st

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!


Please like and share our #CheerForTheVolunteers posts on Facebook and/or Twitter and help a create movement of appreciation for the volunteers who have provided critical support within our communities in response to COVID-19.


(Right click) Save and use the image to the right and create a post with your own sentiments using the hashtag #CheerForTheVolunteers.

Meet The Funder Session - Wednesday 10 June at 10am

Communities 1st are holding an online ‘Meet the Funder’ session with The National Lottery Community Fund.

A representative from the Fund will discuss the Coronavirus Community Support Fund including

  • Eligibility criteria
  • Application process
  • Q and A

The Coronavirus Community Support Fund is open to applicants including those who have not received National Lottery funding previously and prioritises

  • Organisations supporting people and communities who experience disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
  • Organisations providing services and support for vulnerable people, for which there will be increased demand as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
  • Organisations which connect communities and support communities to work together to respond to COVID-19

The session will take place via Zoom on Wednesday 10 June at 10am. To book your place please CLICK HERE or email memberservices@communities1st.org.uk

Please ensure you have read all the sections on the following web-page prior to the session.

For funding requests greater than £10,000:

For funding requests under £10,000:

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.

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.

‘Tell the world why your organisation is #NeverMoreNeeded than now’

Create a post on either Facebook or Twitter using #NeverMoreNeeded share your story of how your organisation has never been more needed. Let the public know of the vital importance voluntary sector organisations are to our communities, especially in response to a national crisis.

  • What services are you providing? How many are you helping?
  • To what scale has your service provided for?
  • What would it mean if your service weren’t available? 

Quantify your group’s activities where you can, and don’t forget to use photos where possible, this will help increase the impact of the campaign.

Tag @1stCommunities and @NAVCA (on Twitter) for re-tweets and shares.

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


his 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

Click the links above to book your place or for further information email Volunteering Herts at info@volunteeringherts.uk or call 01707 274861


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

Statutory organisations: £50 half-day or £90 full-day (includes handbook)

Foundation for Social Improvement's Fundraising Conference

The FSI’s popular fundraising conference is going virtual on 18th June! And it’s free for charities under £100k, and just £30 for everyone else. Hear from small charity experts on securing your first corporate partner, starting regular giving from scratch, prioritising your funding options when time is tight, making the most of digital fundraising, and much more.  Click here to book.

Furlough – Changes to the scheme

Since its introduction, a number of VCSE organisations have utilised the government’s furlough scheme to reduce the drain of salary costs on expenditure where some services have had to temporarily close and caused a loss of trading income.

Initially the government’s scheme was temporary, for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020. You could claim 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per furloughed employee. Those employees needed to be on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.

Under the announcements made by the Chancellor on 12 May, the scheme will continue in its current format until the end of July. Furloughed workers will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to a maximum of £2,500.  Read more.

NCSC Guides for working at home

Our partners at the National Cyber Security Centre have lots of excellent guidance for keeping your charity and your people safe from cyber attacks and crime. Check out their new guidance on working from home.

Statutory Sickpay Extension

Entitlement to statutory sickpay has been extended to people who have been told to isolate under the new 'Test and Trace' system.

A person who has been notified that they have had contact with a person with coronavirus, and who is self-isolating for 14 days as a result, will be entitled to statutory sickpay.

Here’s the link to 'The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020'

Here’s the link to 'Test and Trace'.


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: Black, Asian Minority Ethnic Communities, Disabled People, Lower Socio-Economic Groups 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.


Interested in finding out more about Crowdfunding Hertfordshire?

Crowdfund Hertfordshire information event on Thursday 18 June

12.00 - 13.00  Find out more and book here.

Coronavirus Community Support Fund

The Government’s new Coronavirus Community Support Fund opened for applications last week.  This 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.



Tampon Tax Fund 2020-21

The Tampon Tax Fund allocates funds generated from the VAT on sanitary products to projects to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.  They welcome organisations applying to this round of funding to include activities that seek to address the consequences of COVID-19 for disadvantaged women and girls. Click here for more information.

Youth Futures Foundation:  Emergency Covid-19 funding

The Youth Futures Foundation is committed to transforming employment for young people. They have developed an emergency funding response.

Their emergency funding response consists of:

  • Increased funding available for development and impact grants to rapidly increase youth employment provision. This funding is on a rolling basis with no deadlines
  • Launching an emergency levelling up youth fund to support young people from the hardest hit communities.  The emergency levelling up youth fund is part of the government’s unlocking of £150 million from dormant accounts for coronavirus response. The Government’s press release can be read here

Details of the funding and their contact details, if you have an additional query, can be found here.

Forces Communities Together programme

The Forces Communities Together programme will award small grants of up to £10,000 towards creative and engaging projects, that can be delivered under social restrictions, for people from Armed Forces communities who are isolated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Closing date: 30 June 2020.  Click here for more information.


MODERN SLAVERY: Spot the Signs, Save Lives!

You may come into contact with someone being exploited. Learn how to spot the signs and report concerns.

Free online benefits training from the Money Advice Unit

Hertfordshire County Council’s Money Advice Unit has launched their first Universal Credit e-learning course in partnership with Child Poverty Action Group, the UK’s leading benefits advice specialists.

The course can be accessed from www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/benefits.

Click on the link on the right-hand side of the page called ’courses for professionals – universal credit’.

The course is free and you can access this short, interactive learning from your tablet, phone, laptop or PC.  The course takes about 30 – 40 minutes to complete. You can do it in one session or spread it over a time to suit yourself.

Try this essential practical learning on financial support for working age adults and their families. Universal credit is a complete change to the benefit system for working age people. Through interactive quizzes and activities, you will look at how universal credit works including:

  • who can get universal credit
  • amounts of universal credit
  • claiming universal credit
  • the claimant commitment
  • moving to universal credit

WEBINAR: Volunteering safely

Over 1,000 volunteers have now been trained in Hertfordshire in response to COVID-19 in partnership with HCF, #TeamHerts Volunteering & all of the Hertfordshire CVS organisations, including Communities 1st.   Thank you to everyone who has been involved! This fully funded online course is an introduction to volunteering safely with vulnerable adults. The training ensures that volunteers can provide a service that is both safe for themselves, and the person who is self-isolating. Final dates for training can be found below:

Volunteering safely: Public spaces

This course is suitable for all volunteer roles where you will be operating within public spaces, such as delivering groceries or prescriptions, dog walking & in community transport roles:

Volunteering safely: Remote befriending

With a specific focus on remote befriending, there will be training on recognising unconscious bias and tips for engaging with someone remotely.

Online Bereavement Counselling Service

The online counselling service provided by Sue Ryder for before and after bereavement has just been upscaled to offer national cover.  Click here for more information.

Wise About Food

Families are put under greater strain as lockdown continues. After distributing a questionnaire for adults working or living with children, Sarah from Wise About Food has tailored this month's newsletter to tackle some of the most pressing household problems that were highlighted. Read for some easy dinner meal ideas, tips about looking after your mental health as a parent, information about Vitamin D, and links to many more resources on www.sarahscotland.co.uk.

Mental health and well-being support services

Information about local services to help with happiness, wellbeing and mental health including support for people on the autism spectrum is available online. These services include but are not limited to advice for bereavement, dementia, advice for carers and domestic abuse.  There is also information on mental health services and how to access support through HPFT and the voluntary sector. 

This information has been collated to provide helpful links to services that can provide extra support when people may be cut off from the usual support networks that would usually give help and comfort during difficult times.

Please feel free to use these links as sign-posting guides to support your ongoing work to help people at this difficult time

Keen Oxford - Creating, supporting and promoting inclusion

Over the past few months KEEN have been running a range of inclusive weekly online projects, including movement, baking, crafts, drumming and so much more.

If you're feeling isolated, bored, frustrated, or simply want to meet some new people and have some fun, then these sessions are absolutely for you!  You can also engage in smaller groups, if you want to meet just a few people before you join in with the regular sessions.

All you need is a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone and an internet connection (our sessions are on Zoom). You can find out more and sign up on their website or get in touch via email or phone 07806 743 595.