Communities 1st Voluntary Sector Briefing 16th November 2020

Having now completed the second week of lockdown 2.0, and as we approach the Winter months, it's more important than ever to look after yourselves, and your staff and volunteers. If there’s anything we can do to support your organisation, please let us know and we will do our best to help!

Over recent weeks, some member organisations, groups, and charities have told us they have planned to again accelerate their response, rejuvenate their delivery, and do whatever they are able to, in order to help the county through Lockdown 2.

in fact, many expressed that, far from having to resume efforts and operations on behalf of the community, they had in fact not once let up on the momentum of their output since March!

Whether you can volunteer to collect prescriptions, carry out food shopping, telephone an elderly or house-bound resident, or help in any number of other ways, then please, I urge you to consider the part you could play.

I am sure I echo the thoughts of all of the Communities 1st team, when I say that I am so proud to be in a county which has already done so much for so many, and I am eternally grateful to all those of you who have helped so far.

Thank you. Your response continues to be what keeps the county’s heart beating.

If someone has forwarded this to you, you can sign up to receive our e-newsletters directly into your inbox here:

Best wishes, stay safe, stay well, be kind.

Stephen Craker,

Chief Executive,
Communities 1st


If you want more information you can visit our website: or contact our Voluntary Sector support team on 01727 743018. 


Weekly Coffee Mornings for Member Organisations
Drop in to say hello, tell us what you are working on, what support you need and to hear from other local voluntary sector organisations at our weekly Virtual Coffee Mornings for voluntary sector organisations, every Wednesday at 10am.

The sessions are friendly, informal and hopefully useful.  You don’t have to come every week, come along whenever you are able to.

To register, visit or for more information please email or phone Christine on 01727 743018. 

Get in touch
If your organisation is still delivering services, is considering closing/closed or is temporarily closed, we'd like to hear from you.  Please visit to complete our survey or email

Thinking about volunteering during lockdown 2?
Contact our Volunteer Centre team who will be able to assist you through the volunteering decision tree to help you work out which volunteering activities can be done safely in person, or remotely.   Email

Valuing Volunteer Management Training – recruiting and retaining volunteers
This interactive and engaging one-day course will explore the challenges of recruiting, retaining and managing volunteers. It is ideal for staff who have this responsibility as their role.  We have split the course into two halves to give participants more choice.

24th February 2021
10.00am – 12.30pm - Recruiting Volunteers – click here

2.00pm - 4.30pm - Managing Volunteers – click here

Click the links above to book your place or for further information email Volunteering Herts at 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).

Government Kickstart Scheme – Employ a talented young person for a 6 month fully funded job placement
In September the Government announced the launch of the Kickstart scheme, a £2 billion pound initiative to help young people aged between 16-24 into work. Organisations can employ a young person on a part-time 6-month contract, fully funded by the Government up to national minimum wage and including employers’ national insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment costs.

Kickstart is also an opportunity for volunteer led organisations to benefit from taking on a paid employee. Support is available in offering paid employment placements.

Communities 1st is an approved Kickstart Gateway for the 3rd Sector in Hertfordshire, supporting charities and community groups to access the scheme and will soon be submitting our second round of employment placements on the scheme.

To find out more about employing a young person through the Kickstart scheme please email

Black Funding Network
Black Funding Network (BFN) is a community of individuals and institutions who come together to support Black founded and led non-profit organisations.

Inspired by the live crowdfunding model of The Funding Network, which has raised over £14 million since 2002, BFN gives its members the fulfilling opportunity to invest their time and resources in organisations where values and giving priorities align with theirs. BFN supports organisations working on solutions for social mobility, poverty alleviation, racial equity, education and youth services, community development, arts and cultural advancement, history and heritage, and social enterprise.

Find out more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended into the spring
Charity Finance Group (CFG)'s Policy Manager Richard Sagar has reviewed the government's announcement to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and outlined what we as a sector needs to look at.

CFG and a number of other organisations (including us), is calling for a time-limited scheme that enables organisations to furlough staff and allow them to volunteer their time and skills back to their not-for-profit, public benefit employer.

Click here to view his overview plus details of the campaign and the guides.

New National Restrictions from 5 November updated guidance
On 12 November the government updated the guidance, providing more clarity on what is allowed during the period up to Wednesday 2 December. The guidance explains that you must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. Read more.

Coronavirus guidance for Companies House customers
On 8 November the government updated the guidance in context to the appeal of a ‘late filing penalty' online service. It’s taking much longer than usual for the department to process paper documents, forms and letters sent to them by post. You should use their online services to make sure your information is processed on time. They are continuing to write to companies who are late filing their annual accounts or confirmation statement, to help them bring their record up to date. Read more.

Microsoft nonprofit eligibility criteria
Microsoft have some great offers on discounted tech for charities. But like everything it comes with some restrictions and hoop jumping. So the bods at Charity Digital have taken a look at the offers to see what is worth taking up and what you need to be eligible.

The results of their endeavours are here.

Social media giants agree package of measures with UK Government to tackle vaccine disinformation
On 8 November the government published this news story. The government have agreed with social media platforms new measures to limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and disinformation and help people find the information they need about any COVID-19 vaccine. At a virtual roundtable to address the growth of vaccine disinformation, Facebook, Twitter and Google committed to the principle that no company should profit from or promote COVID-19 anti-vaccine disinformation, to respond to flagged content more swiftly, and to work with authorities to promote scientifically accurate messages. Read more.

Talk/together: Consultation
Talk/together is the UK’s biggest-ever conversation about what divides and unites us, and what could bring our society together in these difficult times. Together is a campaign that starts with questions rather than answers. It’s run by a major new coalition of household names like the NHS and the Scouts, and local community organisations too. Details of the campaign can be found here

Transition period advice for civil society
As you are aware the UK has now left the EU and is nearing the end of the transition period? Therefore from 1 January 2021, there will be a new way of doing certain things.

The government has put together a handful of guides for civil society organisations in the charity and social enterprises sectors, plus links to general guidance on the actions needed by December 31.

Charity Commission chair: sector leaders call for party political neutrality in the appointment process 
ACEVO has coordinated a letter from ten charity sector organisations to the chair of the Government’s DCMS Select Committee.

The letter requests that transparency, accountability and political neutrality be prioritised in the appointment process for the next chair of the Charity Commission.

You can read the full letter here.

Mental Health: A VCS insights pack to help inform and shape collective responses to Covid-19
The mental load on those on the frontline will be greater under lockdown. VCSEP's recent insights pack shows this year has already given us a 10% increase in adults reporting mental distress. Reaching out to each other and using our connections will make us stronger together. The power of partnership is a strength we can draw on to provide support to those in need but also to keep our team effective and functioning. 

Mapping the experiences of people with long-tail COVID
Over the last few months there has been increasing media coverage about post-COVID (also known as “long-tail COVID” or “long COVID”) and the ongoing symptoms – such as breathlessness, fatigue, sleep – that some people experience after an acute COVID-19 infection.

To understand people’s different experiences, the Post-COVID Hub is creating a post-COVID user experience map and sharing their findings with the wider community. Click here for more details.

Campaigner Survey 2020 – SMK want to know what you think
Every year, the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) asks campaigners what’s going on in the world. This year, the work of change-makers is crucial as communities across the country try to reimagine a post pandemic, post-Brexit UK.

The survey is open to change-makers of all kinds – professional campaigners, individual activists, community organisers, volunteers, trustees. If you work to create social change, this survey is for you!  Click here to complete the survey.

Charity Commission's new quick and easy guides
To celebrate #TrusteesWeek, the Charity Commission issued five new 5-minute guides which you can access here (complete with a blog from Helen Stephenson).

They explain the basics of:

  • financial oversight
  • achieving a charity’s purposes
  • good decision making
  • addressing conflicts of interest
  • what to file with the Commission and what support is available

Earlier this year Captain Sir Tom united the nation walking laps of his garden and became the face of hope in dark times.

Once again the spotlight has turned to Captain Tom and his message is one of hope and resilience and a rally to the nation to unite.

This time Captain Tom is handing the baton over to everyone right from the start.

If you would like to join in - take to your gardens, living rooms etc. and share your activities using #WalkWithTom. Click here for more details.

Community owned pubs and shops show resilience in the face of Covid-19
The Plunkett Foundation has released the 2020 ‘Better form of Business Reports’ on Community Pubs and Community Shops.

Rural community owned businesses were in robust health as Covid-19 hit, and displayed a unique innovation and flexibility to serve those who needed them when Britain was under national lockdown.

Click here to view the report.

Over 60% of community groups have closed or decreased services during Covid-19
New research by Groundwork has examined the worrying impact that Covid-19 had on community groups during the last six months and what this might mean as we enter a second lockdown.

The report found that over 60% of groups have been forced to close or decrease their services, despite 67% saying there is more need in their communities.

The charity is urging that more be done to enable community groups to provide well-funded, tailored support to their local community as part of plans to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and prepare for the recovery.

Click here to view the report.

Charity Governance Awards
The Charity Governance Awards is an exciting not-for-profit initiative created to celebrate outstanding governance and trusteeship in charities across the UK, allowing large and small not-for-profit organisations to inspire and learn from one another.

The Charity Governance Awards are open to any charity registered in the UK; entries are free and easy to submit online, and accepted between November and January each year. The shortlist is announced in April, and shortlisted charities are invited to a complimentary and exclusive awards ceremony in May, where the winners are announced.

More details can be found here.

The Public Health England Campaign Resource Centre
The Public Health England Campaign Resource Centre has everything you need to deliver your campaigns at a local level.

Current available resources include:

  • National Restrictions
  • NHS COVID-19 app
  • Hands Face Space
  • Stay Alert to Stay Safe
  • NHS Test and Trace
  • Symptoms
  • Ports of Entry
  • NHS Resources

Click here to download your campaign materials.

VCS Emergencies Partnership
Don't forget the safety net of the #emergenciespartnership. Communities 1st, together with over 85 national organisations and 200 local #VCS organisations are working with government to help target unmet need.   If your organisation is overwhelmed by this perfect storm of emergencies, please ask for help from the Emergencies Partnership.  We hope you won’t need us but we’re here if you do.


Developing a Fundraising Strategy as a Small Charity free workshop
The session is for fundraisers, CEOs, Trustees and anyone who has fundraising as part of their role – whether you’re at the start of your fundraising journey or looking to refresh your activities.

BOOK HERETuesday 17 November 12 noon - 1pm

Trusts and Foundations Fundraising for Small Charities free workshop
The session is for fundraisers, CEOs, Trustees and anyone who has fundraising as part of their role – whether you’re at the start of your fundraising journey or looking to refresh your activities.

BOOK HERE:  Wednesday 18 November 2020 10am - 11am

Writing grant applications: Practical tools for success!
Learn how to improve your chances of securing grants from smaller local and national grant makers, focussing on smaller funds (under £10,000). This will be an interactive online course, with practical tools and tips that you can take away and use in your current grant applications straight away.

BOOK HEREWednesday 18 November 10am - 12.30pm

Supporting Local Libraries - webinar
The Public Policy Exchange is hosting an online symposium offering librarians, local and national authorities, community cohesion groups and other key stakeholders, the opportunity to discuss the issues threatening the future of libraries and to learn about the solutions being developed at all levels to ensure they remain a key part of British communities.

BOOK HERE:  Thursday 19 November  9.30am

The impact of 2020 on digital, cybersecurity and fraud – Webinar
Charity Digital and the National Cyber Security Centre are hosting a joint event to discuss the impact 2020 has had on digital, cybersecurity and fraud. They’ll be looking ahead to what 2021 is likely to bring and what you can do to prepare for these future threats.

BOOK HERE:  Thursday 19 November 1pm

Resilience and Wellbeing in Small Charities free workshop
The session is for fundraisers, CEOs, Trustees and anyone who has fundraising as part of their role.

BOOK HERE:  Friday 20 November 2020 10am - 11am

Valuing Volunteer Management Training – recruiting and retaining volunteers
This interactive and engaging one-day course will explore the challenges of recruiting, retaining and managing volunteers. It is ideal for staff who have this responsibility as their role.  We have split the course into two halves to give participants more choice.

24th February 2021
10.00am – 12.30pm - Recruiting Volunteers – click here

2.00pm - 4.30pm - Managing Volunteers – click here

CSCS course for Herts
Three week online CSCS course for those living in the St Albans area who are aged 19+ and receiving JSA/ESA/UC/Income Support. 

Course starts Monday 23rd November - book your place here

Parent Return to work Programme
Ensuring women’s advancement and progression to senior positions in organisations is a key part of achieving gender parity and pay gap audits have really put this issue in the spotlight. Together Training would like to offer 8 residents from Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans area free virtual coaching and careers support during November. You will be assigned a Coach who will contact you for a free 30 min consultation  followed by weekly support on careers advice ,wellbeing support and coaching to support you back into the world of work.

If you would like to resister to join the programme please contact


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 and they will book some time in to work with you.

St Albans City & District Community Grants Fund 2020/21
The second round of Community Grants Fund 2020-21 will open on Tuesday 10th November and will close on Monday 11th January 2021. We understand that due to changes to government guidance regarding Covid-19 and the lockdown starting on Thursday 4th November, there may be an impact on staffing and resources available to charities and community groups. Please take this into consideration if you are thinking of applying for a grant, to ensure that the person who is leading on the application has access to their email and relevant information and documents during the application period.

If you have any questions or concerns around timelines or the application generally, please contact Isobel on

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

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.

For any queries relating to these funds please contact Hertfordshire Community Foundation at

Woodward Charitable Trust
Charities, social enterprises, and community interest companies can apply for funding of up to £3,000 through the Woodward Charitable Trust. The Trust supports projects that support children and young people, disadvantaged families and prisoners, and ex-offenders. Preference is given to small to medium-sized charities where small grants can have more impact. Priority is given to projects that make good use of volunteers, encourage past and current users to participate, and ensure that funds awarded are being well used. The closing date for applications is the 28th January 2021.  Full details here.

Funding for Projects that Support the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Veterans
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has announced that its Positive Pathways Programme is open for applications.  Fixed grants of £35,000 for one year are available for projects that develop and run activities that support the mental health and wellbeing of ex-forces.  The funding is available to Armed Forces charities and CICs that have substantial experience in working with veterans. The closing date is noon on the 30th November 2020.  Full details here.

Funding for Armed Forces Day Events
Grants of up to £10,000 are available to local councils, organisations, schools, ex-service organisations and individuals for Armed Forces Day events across the UK. The Ministry of Defence is providing funding for events such as tea parties, parades, big band concerts, civil war military re-enactments, and live and static demonstrations to be held on or in the weeks around the 26th June 2021. Funding could be used to cover road closures required to hold an event, decorations, flags and banners, newspaper and radio advertisements, security and first aid arrangements, and PA and communications systems. Grants can cover up to half the total cost of the event. The closing date for applications is the 1st March 2021.  Full details here.

Funding to Support Families in Need
Not for profit front line organisations working directly with families in need can apply for grants of between £10,000 and £100,000. This can include one year grants and grants for up to three years. Organisations applying should have a focus on family support in local areas of deprivation and this may further include early intervention; families coping with addiction; and prisoners' families. The funding is available for core costs, salaries, running and project costs. Grants can be for up to 50% of the total cost. To be eligible the applicant organisation’s postcode, or the project area, must be ranked within the most deprived 15% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for urban areas or within the most deprived 50% for rural areas. The funding is being made through the Trusthouse Charitable Foundation’s Major Grants Programme.  Full details here.

Latest Round of UK Aid Match Open to Applications
A new round of UK Aid Match is now open for applications from UK charities and other not-for-profit organisations for projects that help developing countries tackle the long-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, help girls access quality education, and end preventable deaths through tackling malnutrition or malaria.  For this round, applicants are encouraged to offer digital solutions which could mean anything from re-thinking traditional challenges and events, or activating peer to peer engagement strategies, to exploring new incentives and digital journeys, or trialling gamification. The deadline for submitting concept notes is 5pm on the 18th December 2020.  Full details here.

Emergency Funding for Charities Financially Impacted by the Covid-19 Crisis
Grants of up to £1,000 are available to small and medium-sized charities, CICs and registered societies in the UK which are struggling to manage the financial impact of Covid-19 either because of increased demand for their services or from loss of income. The Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK - Covid-19 Emergency Fund will provide support to organisations which are in a critical position, and operating in one of the following categories: education relating to non-domestic animals; visual and performing arts; medical research; the relief of disability or severe illness; accommodation of those in need. Funding can be used to cover costs such as staff costs and other overheads, and changes to working practices e.g. laptop purchase and protective equipment. Applications can be made at any time.  Full details here.

HMRC Grant Funding for Advice Services
HMRC is making funding of £4.98 million available to charities, voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises, and co-operatives to help them provide advice and support hard to reach people who need extra help understanding and complying with their tax obligations and claiming their entitlements, including those who are digitally excluded. This might include those with disabilities, mental health or learning difficulties; those on low income or in debt; older people; migrants; or carers. Funding of between £20,000 and £750,000 (with a maximum threshold set at 50% of an organisation’s turnover) is available for activities which include advice and support, digital inclusion, and specialist support and referrals. The deadline for applications is the 27th November 2020. Full details here.

Funding for Digital Arts and Cultural Collaboration
Arts and cultural organisations in the UK and selected Official Development Assistance (ODA) countries can apply for grants of up to £50,000 to collaborate digitally on international projects. The funding is available to organisations to devise new virtual ways of working internationally, in turn creating a climate-friendly approach to international collaboration and artistic exchange. Applications must be a partnership between at least one UK organisation and one organisation based in one of the eligible ODA countries. The full list of eligible countries is available on the British Council website. The funding is being made available through the British Council’s Digital Collaboration Fund and the closing date for applications is 23.59 on the 18th November 2020.  Full details here.


Keep your health appointments during lockdown
Family doctors across Hertfordshire are urging people to continue to attend hospital and clinic appointments with a simple message: “The NHS is here to see you safely, even during the lockdown”.

Although there will be restrictions in many aspects of our lives due to the new lockdown rules, GPs, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other NHS services remain open, and are working in different ways to keep patients and staff safe.

In order to ensure patient safety, people are asked not to arrive at their GP practice without an appointment.  For urgent physical or mental health help when your GP is closed, or for help if you are not registered with a GP practice, go online to NHS 111 or call 111.  All calls are free to this number. As ever, for very serious life or limb-threatening emergencies, people should dial 999 immediately.

"Stay Safe Hertfordshire: Play Your Part" Campaign
Hertfordshire County Council has launched a countywide campaign focussing on four of the most important things you can do to help reduce the spread of coronavirus: hand washing, social distancing, wearing a face covering and getting tested if you have symptoms. A useful toolkit, with social media posts and posters, has been created.

  • Testing is available for anyone who is in the first few days of having suspected coronavirus symptoms.
  • Drive through testing continues to operate on various days of the week in Hertford, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, and Welwyn Garden City.
  • HCC website – containing coronavirus guidance and service updates
  • PPE online hub - providing guidance on PPE
  • Herts Help contactable on 0300 123 4044 – support for all Hertfordshire residents


You can advertise your job vacancies, events and contracts through Communities 1st (it's free if you're a member, and very reasonably priced if you aren't) and through our Twitter page!

Just send details including a weblink to

Communities 1st supports the #ShowTheSalary campaign. Please ensure any advert you do send through shows the pay scale, To find out more about the #ShowTheSalary campaign click here.