Voluntary Sector Briefing 24th July 2020

Earlier this month, NCVO released their annual data snapshot of the charity sector, the UK Civil Society Almanac 2020. Although most of the data itself comes from the 2017/18 financial year, we can see some tell-tale signs about what the future may hold for charities post Covid-19 by analysing this data.

The worrying part of these statistics is the changing composition of the sector. Micro and small groups (those with annual incomes under £10k and £100k respectively) are on a downward trend, with the sector nationally changing from 88% in 2000/01 to 81% in 2017/18. This has major implications for our communities. Micro and small groups form the backbone of what we refer to as grassroots community groups, they are community centres and halls, youth clubs, scouting organisations, faith groups and sport clubs. They are often organisations that the general public do not really think of as charities, they are simply part of the fabric of the community. These organisations, though small, have a large impact on people’s daily lives; so, it’s vital that we understand why the number of these organisations is declining.

Opinion is currently divided as to whether COVID-19 will have a lasting economic effect or we are in line for a ‘v-shaped recovery’, but in light of the dire straits a number of English councils find themselves in it looks like the charitable sector is in for a rocky number of years regardless of how the rest of the economy recovers. Additionally, the general public are the major funders of the charitable sector, giving £25.4bn compared to £15.7bn from government. Social distancing restrictions, redundancies and less disposable income in the next few years due to the current crisis could see this level of income fall substantially.

Our voluntary, community and social enterprises did what they do best during this crisis: they endured – they adapted. Charities changed their priorities and objectives quickly to cope with lockdown restrictions, they responded – they utilised everything at their disposal from volunteers to resources to ensure help was received where it was needed.

If we'd been told, at the start of 2020:

  • how much information we'd have to consider, assess and act on
  • how many changes we'd need to bring in for our teams, our volunteers, those who rely on the work we do
  • how many hours we'd be spending on Zoom (what even is that?) and other platforms
  • how much, for most of us, our working lives would change
  • how much our organisations' income and expenditure would differ from the budget forecast

... I'm sure some of us at least would have doubted out own capability and capacity to cope. Add in the backdrop of fear and risk for our families, friends and communities, and, for many of us, the loss of loved ones during that time - whether from coronavirus or other causes.

Across the Communities 1st family we have shared fear, pain, grief, tears, loss, fatigue - but also love, joy, comfort, inspiration, support, friendship and laughter.

Thank you for being a part of our Communities 1st family.

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



Compassionate Community Connector Programme
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.

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.

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.  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.  


Home-Truths report: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector
ACEVO together with Voice4Change England has released Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector as part their year-long Making Diversity Count project.

This report is centred around the experiences and expertise of over 500 BAME people who shared their experiences of racism in the sector and also told us what they thought needed to change in order to create true culture change.

Click here to read the full report.

Sustaining Work-Relevant Mental Health Post COVID-19 Toolkit
This toolkit presents a range of information and guidance which aims to assist organisations in managing work-relevant mental health for staff and volunteers. It is not a definitive document, but rather endeavours to be a useful and comprehensive resource providing an evidenced-based approach to supporting mental health in the workplace.

Click here to download the report.

2021 GSK IMPACT Awards – core funding and free training for health charities
This year, more than ever, we are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2021 GSK IMPACT Awards. Winning organisations will receive core funding of up to £40,000 plus access to excellent training and development to support their leaders.

Organisations must be at least three years old, working in a health-related field in the UK, with income between £80,000 and £2.5 million. Up to 20 awards will be made, ranging from £3,000 to £40,000; the training and development is valued at a further £9,500. Organisations will also have a film made, receive help with press and publicity, and be given a set of promotional materials.

The GSK IMPACT Awards are judged by a prestigious panel of judges and provide national recognition for the winning charities. Closing date for applications: 14 September 2020.  Click here to apply.

Celebrate Sport in Hertfordshire
The Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership (HSP) are excited to announce their HSP Lockdown Awards. The online awards will take place this year as a one off to highlight the amazing work and achievement of Hertfordshire’s sporting community throughout a difficult and uncertain time for Hertfordshire sport.

With five categories to nominate in ranging from best active photo to best lockdown coach the partnership is looking forward to seeing what Hertfordshire sport has been getting up to whilst clubhouse doors and sporting facilities have been shut.

The five categories to nominate in are:

  • Most Inspiring Club
  • Best ‘active lockdown’ video
  • Best ‘active lockdown’ photograph
  • Best use of lockdown
  • Best lockdown Coach

For the first time the voting will be down to the public, so you’ll need to get your club, families and friends all on board to vote when voting opens.

The nominations will be closing on Friday 21st August 2020.

You can nominate here: www.sportinherts.org.uk/hsp-lockdown-awards and you can follow HSP on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@sportinherts).

For more information about the awards, please contact Jane Parker from the Herts Sports Partnership on j.parker20@herts.ac.uk.

New Psychological First Aid training during COVID-19 reaches 60K sign ups
In June, Public Health England launched a new Psychological First Aid (PFA) training module, aimed at all frontline and essential workers and volunteers. Hosted entirely online via the FutureLearn platform, the course has been a huge success with over 60,000 people enrolling. Students have come from a wide range of backgrounds and ages, from 18 to 65+, and 98% have said that the course met or exceeded their expectations.

The course is free, and no previous qualifications are required. By the end of the course, outcomes will include: understanding how emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic can affect us, and recognising people who may be at increased risk of distress and how to offer practical and emotional support.

If you would like to sign up, registration is still open.  

Webinar: The development of residential women’s centres in England and Wales
Clinks and the Ministry of Justice are holding a webinar about the development of residential women’s centres (RWCs) across England and Wales. It will also provide an opportunity for voluntary organisations working with women in the criminal justice system to give feedback and their views on specific aspects of how RWCs should operate.

The Ministry of Justice would like to speak to voluntary organisations in Wales and England that have experience delivering gender-responsive services to women and expertise in trauma-informed practice to discuss the proposed model for RWCs and seek feedback.

The free webinar will be held on 5 August at 10am. Click here for more details.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested
The Department of Health and Social Care has updated its guidance on who is eligible for a test and how they can be tested.

The most recent update includes instructions for care homes and Randox testing.

This site also includes a full list of who is eligible for testing - including volunteers and charities. Click here for more details.

Coronavirus outbreak FAQs - what you can and can’t do
On 17 July the Government updated the coronavirus outbreak FAQs section to reflect the new announcements. 

The guidance covers the most frequently asked questions on what you can and can’t do during the coronavirus outbreak. This is national guidance that applies to England only. If you live or work in the local lockdown area, then please refer to the local guidance.

The guidance can be found here.

Staying alert and safe (social distancing)
On 17 July the Government updated their staying alert and safe guidance to reflect the announcements that day, which relate to the next stages of their roadmap.

We recommend all VCSE organisations keep up to date with the proposed changes to help plan. Read more.

Trust, power and collaboration
The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has published ‘Trust, power and collaboration’ which shares practical suggestions for taking a ‘human learning systems’ approach to commissioning and funding relationships. The research aimed to capture the varying experiences of those adapting their practice, and identify both what is happening and what needs to change to enable different ways of working – for both VCS organisations and funders/commissioners. This research was carried out in partnership with Northumbria University and The Tudor Trust.  Find out more.

Change Collective Recruitment Guides
The Institute of Fundraising has produced a series of recruitment guides to support both the fundraising profession and the whole sector, to become a more equal, diverse and inclusive profession to recruit for “culture add”, not “culture fit”.

The Change Collective guides have been produced for the fundraising community to consider the actions and decisions they can take to achieve a more diverse fundraising workforce. The guides include an additional element to reflect on recruiting during the coronavirus crisis.

Each guide has been developed with expert advice from recruitment agencies and EDI consultants, and lived experience from fundraisers.

Click here to see the guides.

VCS Emergencies Partnership website launched
The VCS Emergencies Partnership has launched its website which includes a service to support local organisations and community groups to respond to emergencies, where needed. This is done by matching needs with resources locally, regionally and nationally.

Take a few minutes to look around the website and familiarise yourself with the services that are available, then please share it with your networks.

Click here to go to the VCS EP website.

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.


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.

Hertsmere Borough Council – Community Grant Scheme
Hertsmere Borough Council’s community grant scheme has been split into two funding streams.  The first round is for voluntary sector organisations facing financial difficulty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The second stream will be used for projects that have a positive impact in supporting the response to Covid-19 in the ‘recovery stage which will be released later in the year depending on how this crisis evolves.

The first stream of funding is now open for applications.  Click here to read the guidance. www.hertsmere.gov.uk/Community/Community-Information/Community-Grants.aspx

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.

HCF Workforce Development Grants
Grants of up to £2,000 are now available for learning and development in voluntary and community organisations in Hertfordshire.

HCC Adult Care Services are funding this grant scheme for VCS organisations that provide adult social care in Hertfordshire. The grants are managed by HCF Training and Development and can be used to support the:

  • Learning and development of the organisation’s workforce
  • Development of the capacity of the organisation to deliver training and skills to its workforce, to carers or to service users/clients

Examples of acceptable uses include:

  • Training or qualifications for paid staff, volunteers or trustees
  • Coaching or mentoring for key leaders (e.g. managers or trustees)
  • Equipment, software or other resources/materials that will be used for the delivery of training and skills to the workforce, carers or service users/clients
  • Costs associated with accreditation of courses (provided there is a sustainable plan for maintaining this)
  • To develop and run peer support programmes to aid recovery and provide on-going care and support

Find out if you are eligible and to apply.

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. 

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


Superheroes Initiative Offers Local Covid Projects Support
As a conclusion to the successful ‘Support Our Superheroes’ initiative, Shrimad Rajchandra Love and Care UK is offering to partner local covid-relief projects with volunteer and financial support of up to £1,000 each, to help increase the reach of relief projects with common objectives.

As part of the Superheroes initiative, a lasting legacy of gratitude for keyworkers has also been created on social media with the #GreatWallofGratitude on Instagram @support.our.superheroes, where hundreds of people around the country continue to add their messages, videos and images of appreciation.

How to Apply

  • Support Our Superheroes campaign is offering three covid-relief projects with volunteer and financial support of £1000 each.
  • Covid-relief Projects should be located in NW London, Watford or Hertsmere regions, and ideally supporting key workers.
  • Please submit your Support Request application online by visiting www.supportoursuperheroes.com.
  • Deadline for applications: Monday 17th August 2020.
  • Successful applicants will be announced in September.
  • For any queries please contact Ashwin Mehta at uk@loveandcare.srmd.org or 07766 852950. 

Funding for Projects to Increase the Employment Skills of People Aged 11 or Older
Grants of up to £5,000 are available to registered charities to assist with specific projects or core activities that support literacy, numeracy, digital and additional skills for people aged 11 or older in order to increase their employment prospects within the UK. To be eligible the charities applying for funding will need to have an annual income of £500,000 or less. The funding is being made available through the Thomas Wall Trust. Grants will be awarded in November 2020.  Find out more.

Screwfix Foundation Re-Opens for Applications
The Screwfix Foundation has re-opened for applications from charities and not for profit organisations for projects that will fix, repair, maintain and improve the properties and community facilities of those in need by reason of financial hardship, sickness, disability, distress or other disadvantage throughout the UK. Grants of up to £5,000 are available for all kinds of projects, from repairing buildings and improving facilities in deprived areas, to decorating the homes of people living with sickness and disabilities. Applications can be made at any time and will be reviewed on a quarterly basis.  Find out more.

Funding to Help Young People Speaking Out Against Injustice
Young people aged 18-25 and organisations led by young people in England can apply for a share of £80,000 to challenge and change laws, policies, practices, and cultures that have directly affected their lives and those of their community. Through the Blagrave Trust’s Challenge and Change Fund, grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 are available to move power and resources to young people who are working to speak out against injustices, such as young people experiencing poverty, those with disabilities, single teenage mothers, young care leavers and carers, and young people of colour. Successful applicants will have access to free (online) training on charity law and campaigning. The deadline for applications is 11.59pm on the 27th July 2020.  Find out more.

Funding for Projects which Reduce the Use of Single Use Primary Plastic Packaging
The Waste and Resources Action Programme working in partnership with UK Research and Innovation, are inviting applications for round 2 of their £475,000 Refill Infrastructure Grant scheme. Funding of between £50,000 and £150,000 for project proposals that have strong commercial potential to reduce the use of single use primary plastic packaging within an existing or new supply chain. Grants are available for both capital and revenue expenditure for inventive proposals that will change the way retailers and their suppliers operate, so that their customers have new options to buy products in refillable containers. The scheme is looking to support collaborative projects between retailers, manufacturers, and/or supply chain partners. Grant recipients are expected to contribute a minimum of 25% match-funding. The deadline for expressions of interest is 13:00 on the 6th August.  Find out more.

Nominations for the 2020 National Lottery Awards Are Now Open
Nominations are now open to honour individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in their community, especially those who have adapted during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This year the annual search for the UK’s most popular National Lottery funded projects will, for the first time, honour individuals who will receive £3,000 for their organisation as well as a National Lottery Awards trophy for outstanding contributions in any of the following categories: arts; charity/voluntary; education; environment; health; heritage; sport; and young hero (under 18s). Nominations for ‘hometown heroes’ or ‘lockdown legends’ will be put before a judging panel made up of members of The National Lottery family and partners. The deadline for nominations is midnight on the 19th August 2020. Find out more.

Emergency Funding for Community Radio Stations Financially Affected by Covid-19
Community radio stations that are facing severe financial difficulty and are at risk of closure due to the Covid-19 crisis can bid for grants to meet their urgent needs. The £400,000 Community Radio Fund administered by Ofcom will be redirected to provide emergency support for relevant stations to help meet their core costs. There is no limit to how much can be applied for but those who request smaller amounts are more likely to be awarded the full amount requested. Applicants must be community radio licensees in the UK, and be on air by the time applications are considered. Guidance will be provided from Ofcom on how radio stations can bid for funding. Applications can be submitted until 5pm on the 3rd August 2020.  Find out more.

Funding to Support the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Veterans
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Positive Pathways programme has reopened for applications for projects that support the mental health and wellbeing of veterans by getting them out and active. Armed-Forces-supporting charities or CIC’s can apply for grants of £35,000 for projects developed by and for veterans which have a clearly identified activity for veterans to take part in, and should come under one of four themes: sports; arts and culture; getting outside; and heritage. Applications are encouraged from under-represented organisations in the West Midlands and West Scotland, and activities should be feasible with any social distancing requirements in place. The programme is funded by HM Treasury. Applications for this round of funding close at noon on the 25th August 2020.  Find out more.

War Memorials Grant Scheme
Grants of up to £30,000 are available for the repair and conservation of free-standing war memorials in England. These grants are intended to help those who are responsible for the upkeep of war memorials. The grants support the care and preservation of war memorials to a high standard, and to prevent the decay of this important part of our built heritage. Grants will normally be for up to a maximum of 75% of eligible costs. The funding is being made available through the War Memorials Trust and the next closing date for applications is the 31st August 2020.  Find out more.


Purple All Stars - You Raise Me Up
The Purple All Stars are a group of adults with learning disabilities who promote health and wellbeing messages via song and dance.

Please enjoy this song which has been created during lockdown entirely via Zoom and lots of phone calls.


For more information about The Purple All Stars, please contact Kate.Harding@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

Remap are a charity that provides custom-made equipment for disabled people.

Their skilled volunteers provide innovative, practical solutions to everyday challenges encountered by disabled people.

Current restrictions mean that whilst they cannot do everything they have been able to previously, but they are still doing jobs and will do their best to help. 

Please contact them by:

Phone 01727 613177
or email herts.s@remapgroups.org.uk