Press Release on the impact of Covid-19

Almost a quarter of charity organisers believe that without additional support, their organisation would not last until this time next year.


Charities across the districts of St Albans, Hertsmere and Welwyn/Hatfield were invited to take part in the ‘Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) Resilience Survey’ during month 4 of the coronavirus pandemic to help measure the impact that the coronavirus is having on the sector.


While the downturn in the fortunes of some voluntary sector organisations is no surprise, analysis of the survey results demonstrates that organisations are showing an incredible amount of flexibility and determination in their drive to support local communities and people.


With an increased demand for many services that local charities offer, combined with the social distancing restrictions that we all have become familiar with, there has been enormous pressure on charities with some fearful of their survival in the months to come.


Stephen Craker, Chief Executive of Communities 1st said:

“Our purpose and passion at Communities 1st is to support and champion voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations. This is more important than ever as the survey results across the area, and nationally, indicate that we are set to lose valuable local services if we don’t act quickly.


I want to thank member organisations for keeping in regular contact with Communities 1st during this time. I know from personal experience that running a charity is a full-time job even at the best of times.  But the information that organisations and group have provided has been critical in our efforts to support local communities


If your organisation needs support, please do get in touch, we’re here to help!


Whilst many charities have been able to alter their services by adopting zoom calls and other virtual assistance, nearly a third of the responses to the survey have stopped operating. The closure of services caused by the lockdown has resulted in many charities losing out on grants and public fundraising.


Carmen Dillon, Chief Officer for Welwyn Hatfield CVS said:

“When the lockdown was announced, naively I thought 4 weeks and we all would be returning to work – then and demands that followed was mind-blowing – Local charities needed immediate help in moving into the remote working, grants for laptops mobile phone and then that word, ZOOM, a new way of holding meetings.  Well we have survived the 4 months and it’s time to think about how and when we will return to the office and in what form.  Remember we are here to support and help you develop new working strategies.”


Financial support would help alleviate the issues that these charities face. However, results from the survey show that other forms of support will also be required, such as guidance on how to diversify and find different ways to promote their charity.


It is clear that social distancing measures could be in place for some time as charities have recognised that guidance on carrying out risk assessments and opening a shop would be a valuable resource. Moving forward, has been evident that advice on returning to ‘normal’ life would be needed for some charities from building a recovery plan to delivering organisational change.


Sixty-six percent of the surveyed charities have reported that their beneficiaries have become more vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis because of factors such as isolation and loneliness, health and wellbeing, concerns about food supplies and long-term medical conditions. In response to this, over 2,000 vulnerable individuals have been supported as well as 1127 cooked meals and 150 food packs have been delivered.


Communities 1st Chairman, Stuart Nagler MBE, commented that:

I have seen and heard many examples of the fantastic work charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises and local neighbourhood groups are doing in mobilising communities, providing frontline services and helping the vulnerable. I would like to thank every single person for their efforts during this challenging time.”


In response to the restrictions of volunteers operating in confined areas charities are becoming stronger by combining forces. 37% of charities are working in partnership with others sharing food donations, offering premises that are not being used and promoting the services of other charities.


If you need help with planning your organisation’s future post lockdown please do get in touch with your local organisation, who can support your community group, charity or social enterprise with advice and guidance on: funding, governance and trustee support, financial support, marketing advice and exploring ways to develop your organisation.


Notes to the editor:

The survey aimed at charities involved 113 respondents which was available for three weeks in June 2020. The most pressing need is funding but for many organisations the pandemic has impacted on all areas of their work, including staffing, volunteers and their ability to offer services. Without additional financial or other support, 7% of respondents think that their organisation can continue for less than six months, 17% between half a year to a year and 17% don’t know at this stage or will be able to continue with a reduced service. In addition to this one in five respondents has reported that there is not enough volunteers to meet current demands. Communities 1st will continue to match volunteers to vulnerable people for essential deliveries and befriending calls, as well as providing assistance to partnered charities.

The full report can be read here.