Voluntary Sector Briefing 19th June 2020

Stronger Together
As we’ve celebrated Small Charities Week, I’ve reflected on lessons learned during the pandemic. As we emerge into a new climate of uncertainty.  One key question that voluntary sector providers have to ask ourselves, is whether our organisation can quickly pivot and scale? Are we up to the task of this change?

The COVID 19 crisis has disrupted life as we know it and put an unprecedented spotlight on the voluntary sector and its services. Being willing to adapt to a new vision has helped many entities survive during this challenging time. Those who recognised that joining forces with like-minded organisations, being stronger together, may find their path to survival and resilience.  It’s comforting to see that many of us in our sector have risen to the pandemic challenge and performed well.

It has made us all assess the way we do things, our services and the changing needs of our clients, and their carers, and it’s imperative we keep pace with the different expectations about receiving services – and different services that may need to be developed.

One of the other challenges we are seeing is that mental health issues are increasing, arising from isolation, loss of income and restrictions of services. Across the sector, we are seeing increased mental health issues among volunteers and staff, caused by fatigue and pressure to deliver where resources don’t exist.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for the voluntary sector to work even more closely together. That we need to adapt and evolve as we are called upon to deliver services differently and deliver new services to cater to needs that we never thought of before.

Vulnerable people miss out when we don’t work together and I believe we can be much stronger together, better equipped to find the answers and deliver better services through collaboration and partnership.

If your group is currently struggling, or is looking at how it adapts and changes to the ‘new normal’, then please do get in touch.

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


Charities, Voluntary Organisations and Community Groups - we are here to help
If you need information, advice or support Communities 1st is here to help. We can offer advice on issues from fundraising to governance and to 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 St Albans, Hertsmere, Welwyn/Hatfield, Broxbourne and East Herts. Communities 1st is working 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 on issues relating to Covid-19, including:

  • Funding sources – we’re updating our funding sources regularly with the latest information
  • 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 #1stcommunities

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 is “having a devastating impact on the poorest groups”
The Social Mobility Commission is calling on the government to establish a dedicated unit to promote social mobility, in a new report accusing the Government of a lack of action to tackle poverty.

The Social Mobility Commission advises the Government but in its latest report says that ministers have made no progress on a third of recommendations made over the last seven years, which covers education and early years support, employment, housing, transport, health and the environment.

The Social Mobility Commission said the outbreak of COVID-19 is “having a devastating impact on the poorest groups”.

This webinar will get you to think about the important qualities of a leader and consider how these may have changed since the Covid-19 pandemic. We will discuss the latest leadership challenges and theories, whilst giving you a chance to celebrate your successes and consider positive changes you may want to implement. 

Wednesday 24 June 10.00 - 12.00 BOOK HERE

Thinking about... Merger, during Covid-19
The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has published 'Thinking about… Merger, during Covid-19' which is for senior staff and trustees of small and medium-sized voluntary organisations.

This report brings together the experiences of a wide variety of voluntary organisations and advisers that have contemplated or carried out mergers to highlight different dimensions of ‘thinking about merger’. It includes:

  • Reasons for thinking about merger
  • Stages in the merger process
  • What makes a successful merger?
  • A collaboration spectrum

Read the report here.

Campaign to end loneliness: Connections in older age
This week is Loneliness Awareness Week. Whether you want to campaign for change in your local community, learn about the latest research and best practice or connect with like-minded people to share ideas, the campaign to end loneliness website hosted by independent age has plenty of ways for you to get involved. Find out more and get involved.

Every Mind Matters has put together some simple tips to help you if you’re feeling lonely during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Talking about coronavirus and poverty
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty.

They have written a report called Talking about coronavirus and poverty: a guide to framing your messages. It might prove a useful tool as you write your funding applications.

This five-step guide to talking about coronavirus and poverty will help you tell stories that inspire action and drive change, with examples of messaging to try.

It draws on existing research on talking about poverty, their framing poverty toolkit and the FrameWorks framing COVID-19 series.  The report can be found here.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warn of over 1 million more in poverty due to pandemic
The economic fallout of the pandemic could leave 1.1 million more people below the pre-Covid poverty line at year end, including a further 200,000 children, according to analysis by the IPPR think tank.

Without urgent action to protect families from the financial hardship caused by the pandemic, this would bring the total number of children living in poverty in the UK to 4.5 million, an increase of almost 5 per cent.

Read more here.

Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector
This week the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) has published their final report from its Making Diversity Count project which is in collaboration with Voice4Change England.

The report - 'Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector' - does not ask if there is a problem with ‘race’ equity in the charity sector. It has long been known that there is an under-representation of BAME people working in the charity sector, and that under-representation is worse in senior leadership roles. Instead, this report looks to reframe the ‘diversity’ debate, saying that racism is a significant and unresolved issue in the charity sector just as it is in the rest of society.

Download the report here.

As well as reading the report you can listen to a special podcast where Kristiana Wrixon – Head of Policy at ACEVO – talks to Dr Sanjiv Lingayah, lead author and Voice4Change England associate, and Sufina Ahmad, director at John Ellerman Foundation and a member of the ACEVO race advisory group, about the making of the report as well as their personal impressions about the findings and recommendations.

Locality: We were built for this
On 16 June Locality released the report we were built for this: How community organisations helped us through the coronavirus crisis – and how we can build a better future.

It highlights the vital role that community organisations have played in meeting community need and supporting people during the coronavirus crisis. Within the report they call on the government to: support a community-powered economic recovery; create collaborative public services; and, provide support to turn community spirit into community power.  The report highlights that:

  • Community organisations have often been the quickest to mobilise and adapt their services to the crisis – but need support to meet the challenges of the future
  • Community organisations have been the glue that has held together the community response – coordinating and connecting grassroots groups with public and private sector responses.
  • In areas where the public, community and private sector already have strong, collaborative relationships, support was made available faster and has been more effective.
  • Community organisation have been able to harness the upsurge in community spirit – working with and coordinating grassroots groups and hyper-local support.

The report can be downloaded here.

Charity commission: Regulating in the public interest
On 15 June the charity commission published their research exploring the relationship between the public’s view of Charity and charities and the role of regulation; and trustees’ views of public expectations and of the Commission.

It is published in the belief that a better understanding of the public will lead to a more informed discussion about how best to regulate their interest in future. We recommend all charities read the report, both registered and unregistered charities and consider how it might relevant to their own charity’s future delivery and planning. 

Read the report here.

The #NeverMoreNeeded website is here and ready for you to use!

To fuel you all with content and activities to keep banging the #NeverMoreNeeded drum, the #NeverMoreNeeded website is now live. Click here to have a view.

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

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 (aged between 11 and 14) 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.

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 Valuing Volunteer Management 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

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)

Psychological first aid in emergencies training
Public Health England are providing a free wellbeing course through Future Learn:  Psychological first aid in emergencies training for frontline staff and volunteers: www.gov.uk/government/news/psychological-first-aid-in-emergencies-training-for-frontline-staff-and-volunteers.

Spot the Signs suicide prevention – new dates added
Spot the Signs training sessions are now available to book for June. Click on one of the below links for the date and time you wish to book on to and complete the registration form. Once you have registered you will receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite containing your Zoom link (this may go to your junk email).

The password is: StS2020.

If you have any issues with accessing the spot the signs training, please contact Danielle Flood via Hpft.spotthesigns@nhs.net.


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): Coronavirus Relief Fund Phase 2
Informed by the results of the local and national surveys/reports on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, HCF have launched their next round of funding to support the voluntary sector and the people of Hertfordshire. They are welcoming applications on a rolling basis for the following:

  • Fast track grants of £1,000 to £5,000 prioritising smaller organisations continuing to meet immediate need.
  • Grants up to £10,000 for organisations that have adapted their support services and are looking to the longer-term.
  • Grants up to £20,000 for collaborative proposals that see organisations coming together to address specific needs.

Click here for more information.

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.


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.


Co-op: Local community fund
The Co-op Local Community Fund supports projects across the UK that their members care about. They want to help communities to come together, co-operate and have a positive impact on community wellbeing – physically and virtually. Delivery stage of the funding is later in the year which is why there is mention of coming together physically

Applications must be completed by midnight on 28 June 2020. If you’re successful, the funding period will begin on 25 October. Your project must either:

  • Bring the community together to help those in need, providing access to life’s essentials such as community spaces, food and bereavement support
  • Support the mental and physical health of others through community wellbeing activities
  • Enable people to develop or share their skills to foster community spirit and build resilient communities for the future

Your project or event must not have religious or political aims (although you can still apply if you’re a religious organisation), meet the Co-op’s values, take place or will still be running after November 2021 and benefit your local community.

Eligibility and the application process can be found here.

More details about the fund can be found here.

Historic England: Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund
This is the second fund launched by Historic England to help the heritage sector recover from the effects of the pandemic. The first fund is now closed.

The grant will help fund urgent maintenance, repairs and surveys at some of England’s locally-cherished historic buildings and sites. The work funded will help heritage sites reopen to the public and thrive once again as quickly as possible – subject of course to Covid-19 restrictions.

The process includes an expression of interest (EOI) survey - deadline Sunday 28 June 2020. If your EOI has been successful you will be notified by Monday 27 July 2020 and have to submit a full application - deadline Monday 31 August 2020.

Grants of up to £25,000 will be offered for urgent minor repairs to problems such as damaged roofs, masonry and windows, to hire scaffolding to prevent structural collapse, or to commission surveys necessary to inform urgent repairs. The work funded must be started before Saturday 31 October 2020.

The guidance notes can be found here.

The EOI can be found here.  Further details can be found here.


Alban Weekend 13.1 Challenge
Due to COVID-19 the much-loved annual St Albans Half Marathon event had to be cancelled this year. This local event donates 100% of its profits each year to local charities, plus many runners raise money through sponsorship as well. This means that our local charities and organisations are sadly missing out too!

In the spirit of the event, which has a main race the length of 13.1 miles and to support local charities who need our support at this time – St Albans District Council are launching the Alban Weekend 13.1 Challenge!

This will launch with the Alban Weekend website (www.enjoystalbans.com/albanweekend) and the live event taking place on 20th -21st June on the Alban Weekend Facebook Page.

The ask is for communities to set themselves a 13.1 challenge that benefits their health or wellbeing and once completed to make a donation to a local charity of their choice.  So, whether they run 13.1 kms, do 131 press ups or commit to 13.1 minutes of meditation a day – these are all ways to take part.

How can you get others involved? - Why not reach out to your audience and invite them to get involved and raise money for you. If you encourage them to share their challenges on social too with the #STA131Challenge and #AlbanWeekend.

Interested? - If you are interested in getting involved please email at events@stalbans.gov.uk so they can look out for any social posts we can share.

There is still time to get involved in

Research Opportunity: The impact of coronavirus on food and eating in the East of England
Researchers from across the East of England want to find out how coronavirus and the associated restrictions are affecting how people do everyday activities relating to food, such as shopping, cooking, and eating. They are also interested in how you feel about these changes. The research is being led by Prof. Wendy Wills at University of Hertfordshire.

Who can take part? 

If you are aged 18 or over and at least one of the following describe your household then they want to hear from you:

  • Have infants or school-aged children at home
  • Aged over 70
  • low income, in receipt of state benefits and / or free school meals
  • A key worker
  • Self-isolating because of a health condition

Or are you a professional or volunteer undertaking food or nutrition related work? Including (but not limited to); 

  • Infant feeding advisors
  • School aged children
  • Community dietitians
  • Meals on wheels
  • Local authority or charity (including any Compassionate Community Connector Volunteers)

Please contact Claire Thompson 01707 289345 or email covid19foodstudy@herts.ac.uk to arrange a one to one interview (via phone/video link).  Your help would be much appreciated.

For more details visit www.arc-eoe.nihr.ac.uk/covid-19-projects-innovations-and-information/prevention-and-early-detection-health-and-social-care.