Happy holidays and warm wishes from the whole team at Communities 1st! 

Thank you to all our incredible volunteers, who have given so much of their time this year to help us get through this crisis. Amazingly, local people continue to rally together, allowing us to deepen and extend that support through the winter and beyond. Residents are still delivering food, medicines, and prescriptions, offering friendship to isolated people, and last week, volunteers started to provide stewarding and administrative support to local GP surgeries as they begin to roll out the vaccine.

Take a Sneak Peek at our ‘Bedtime Stories’ (see below) - sit back and be ready to be transported somewhere else…  The ‘bedtime stories’ project has been coordinated by marvellous volunteers, reading fabulous tales from Penguin Books.  Get ready for scaly tyrannosaurus-rexes, magical ponies and spacemen floating among the stars!  We are releasing a preview of 10 stories, read by volunteers from the safety of their living rooms. We hope these give you a taste of what’s to come next year…

Although this year everything feels a bit strange, we hope you still manage to enjoy the festive period with your loved ones.

We look forward to seeing you again in the new year.

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.


Information to Support Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations

Communities 1st survey of the voluntary sector
Communities 1st are carrying out another survey of voluntary sector organisations, in order to understand how your organisation and members are faring in the current circumstances. 

If you haven’t completed the survey, we would be grateful if you can spare five minutes to do so here.

If you have completed the survey very recently, but your circumstances have changed, please update the survey here.  

The information will be shared, anonymised, with key stakeholders and will be used to inform their work.  We will also use this information to champion and support your organisation.  For more information please contact

If your organisation needs support from Communities 1st, please email


Thinking about volunteering during Tier 4?

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


Weekly Coffee Mornings have stopped now for the Christmas break and will resume on Weds 6 January at 10am
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.  If there is a topic you would like us to discuss, please contact

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.


NCVO: Updated Charity Governance Code
This week, NCVO and their steering group colleagues published an updated version of Charity Governance Code (the Code). This refresh is particularly focused on the diversity and integrity principles. Good governance in charities is fundamental to their success. It is the aim of this Code to help charities and their trustees develop these high standards of governance.

Find the updated code here.


N​HS First initiative all set for December roll out to help keep urgent NHS services and patients safe
From 1 December, local NHS 111 provider (HUC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement, Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System for urgent and emergency care.

Unless residents are very seriously ill or injured and need 999 emergency services, they will be asked to go online to NHS 111 or ring for advice before leaving home. There is a useful video here advising residents when to access urgent care.

Read more.


C​oronavirus guidance for voluntary organisations
NCVO have redesigned their KnowHow coronavirus guidance, to help you manage and support volunteers during COVID-19. They have added several new sections including delivering services and activities, safeguarding in voluntary organisations and fundraising and covid-19. They have also updated several sections in line with current restrictions such as working safely, supporting staff wellbeing and retaining and engaging volunteers.

Read more.


The civil society sectors from January 2021
The UK has left the EU, and the transition period will end on 31 December 2020. For civil society organisations in the charity and social enterprises sectors, links to general guidance on the actions needed by December 31 is available on the government website.

Read more.


Department of Health and Social Care: Tier alert guidance
On 8 December the government updated all of the Tier 3 guidance. The update comprises of information on visiting venues and links to guidance on which businesses and venues are permitted to be open.

On 19 December all of Hertfordshire moved into the new Tier 4.  Please read the new guidance here.


#HeritageTreasures day 2021 – Monday 11 January
The Heritage Fund want to celebrate the great work done by the heritage sector, including organisations like yours - during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Monday 11 January, they will be running their annual Heritage Treasures day, an annual campaign run on social media to showcase everything that is great about heritage. You can get involved simply by sharing a photo or short video clip of your heritage treasure (eg: your museum, building, site, park or heritage story) on social media and describe why it’s important and what you did to keep going during the pandemic.

Please use the hashtag #HeritageTreasures.


Open Door St Albans will be providing self-contained accommodation for those sleeping rough in St. Albans during the coldest time of year.

If you can volunteer a few hours, sign up here.


Voice4Change England Launches Britain’s First BAME Charity Magazine 
Voice4Change England is launching its inaugural magazine - a pioneering charity publication for Britain’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic voluntary and community sectors.

Read more.


Build Back Fairer: the COVID-19 Marmot Review investigates how the pandemic has affected health inequalities in England
In February 2020, the Marmot Review 10 Years On drew attention to widening health inequalities and worsening health outcomes in England. The report set out evidence-based recommendations to address these inequalities through action on the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age and which can lead to health inequalities.
Read The marmot review 10 years on here


Enabling safe and effective volunteering during coronavirus (COVID-19)
The government have updated their guidance aimed at helping organisations and groups safely and effectively involve volunteers during the pandemic.

This guidance is for people who run volunteer-involving organisations or groups, or manage volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering yourself, or are an existing volunteer, read guidance on how to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic and on how to help others safely.

Read more.


The Director of Public Health Hertfordshire has released an Update to out of school clubs, groups and activities
The ‘Health in Herts’ webpage is dedicated to providing resources and information for clubs and out of school activity leaders to help them ensure they are COVID-safe. It includes template letters, risk assessments and positive case protocol.

Read more.


Census 2021 – Honour a community hero in your local area
To mark the 22nd Census of England and Wales 22 ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things for the benefit of their communities will be recognised as a Census local hero.
Do you know that special someone who would be a perfect nominee to be a Census local hero? The winners of the competition will be recognised with bespoke purple plaques to honour and celebrate their achievements.

Nominate a hero here.


IVAR Strategies for survival – a virtual event for charity leaders
If you are an organisation worried about concerned about survival, IVAR are holding drop-in peer support sessions. There is also an online virtual event planned that is designed to help you consider your options.

Read more.


Training and Webinars


Tools & techniques for better fundraising 
22 January – 10.00am
Book here.

Safeguarding essentials 
27 January, 24 February or 31 March – 10.00am
Book here.

Writing successful bids 
3 February or 2 March – 10.00am
Book here.

Funding strategy and diversification in the current climate 
5 February or 19 March – 10.00am
Book here.

Good practice in volunteer management
16 February or 16 March – 10.00am
Book here.



Level 3 Award in Education & Training
Friday 13 January - Wednesday 31 March (11 weeks, including initial assessment session).
Book here.

Mental Health and Wellbeing: Local support services for you and your workforce (FREE WEBINAR)
Monday 18 January 2021 11.00am - 12.15pm
Book here

Re-opening buildings confidently during COVID-19  
Wednesday 13 January 2021, 11.00am - 12.15pm 
Book here

Financial Reporting: How to create a good impression?
Thursday 21 January 2021, 10.00am - 12.30pm   
Book here

Securing high value grants
Wednesday 27 January 2021, 10.00am - 1.00pm 
Book here


The People’s Postcode Lottery are holding a funding workshop for charities in St Albans. The workshop will focus on how to apply for funding, and practical tips and advice on producing the best application possible. 

6th of January – 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Book via email.


Social Value UK are holding a free 3-part impact management workshop series focused on VCSE organisations experience.

Using Impact Data to Make Decisions
Thursday 14th January – 2.00pm – 3:30pm
Book here.

How to gather data – Qualitative or Quantitative? - An introduction to methods
Thursday 18th February – 2.00pm – 3.30pm
Book here

Acting for Impact - Working practices and organisational culture 
Thursday 18th March – 2.00pm – 3.30pm
Book here



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 is now open and will close on Monday 11th January 2021. We understand that due to changes to government guidance regarding COVID-19 and Tier 4 status, 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 Please bear in mind that there may be a short delay in replying to emails over the Christmas period. 

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

Hedley Foundation
The Hedley Foundation awards grants to those charities that are able to demonstrate quantifiable outcomes to beneficiaries. Typically, grants of up to £5,000 are regularly made and occasional larger sums are given to charities where high impact can be achieved. Similarly, smaller charities often benefit from smaller grants of £250 upwards. Small/mid-size UK charities are eligible.

Read more.

Arts Council England: Thriving Communities Fund
The funding is designed to increase social connectedness, and help communities cope with the impact of COVID-19. Funding is available between £25k and £50k. Organisations that can apply may be registered charities, community interest companies, co-operative societies or community benefit societies. A key part of each funded project will be to bring together the necessary place-based partners to work together across all these sectors to plan and deliver community activity.
Deadline: The fund closes at midday on Friday 8 January 2021.

Read more.

Funding for Charities Working with Older People
Grants of between £15,000 and £75,000 are available to charitable organisations which provide care and services for older people, particularly if they have a neurodegenerative condition or are isolated. The Wolfson Foundation will provide funding for new build, refurbishment or equipment projects which aim to provide increased access to services for new and existing users, improve the quality and range of services, and improve the financial stability of the organisation. Match funding is required for projects costing more than £50,000. There is a 2-stage application process and the next stage 1 closing date is the 5th January 2021. Applications successful at this stage will have until the 1st March 2021 to complete the stage 2 application.

Read more.

Active Local Tackling Inequalities Fund
Herts Sports Partnership has secured £80,000 from Sport England to help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 and the widening of the inequalities in sport and physical activity. Herts Sports Partnership will run a solicited application process for community groups and organisations. This funding is earmarked for use immediately through to 31st January 2021. The money is for community organisations that currently deliver, or have the potential to deliver, sport and physical activity to the people on low incomes, disabled people and BAME communities.

Read more.

Active Local Tackling Inequalities Fund
Herts Sports Partnership (HSP) has funding available for community groups and organisations based in Waltham Cross, or delivering activities to residents of the area, to deliver sport and/or physical activity to benefit those in the community. Community groups and organisations do not have to be sport or physical activity-focussed, we welcome applications from any group that would like to deliver sport and/or physical activity. Closing date 29 January 2021.
Email Jamie Townsend for more info.

East Herts Council
The deadline of 4 January is fast approaching to apply to the East Herts District Council large grants programme with grants available from £301 - £8000. EHDC has secured funding to support local foodbanks with their delivery throughout East Herts. The funding is being administered by CVSBEH and grants are available up to £2,000.

Read more.

Fund to Help Reduce Loneliness in England
The Local Connections Fund is a new £4 million fund to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities. The ‘microgrants’ between £300 and £2,500 will be split into two equal rounds of funding. This first round will be open for applications on
5 January 2021 and close on 26 January 2021.

Read more.

The Fore – Spring 2021 Funding
The Fore’s Spring 2021 Funding Round will open on Thursday January 7th at 10am. This programme offers unrestricted grants of up to £30,000 that can be spread over 1-3 years. The grants can be used for whatever grantees think will help transform their scale, sustainability, efficiency or impact. Any UK-registered charities, CICs or CBSs with annual incomes under £500,000 are welcome to apply. The Fore is particularly keen to fund organisations run by/working with marginalised groups. Once registered, you will have until Monday 25th January to complete your application.

Read more.

Funding for Community Cohesion Projects
Local community-led grassroots groups and organisations can apply for funding for projects that break down barriers and tensions between different groups of people, and help to build a more cohesive and inclusive community. This could be a housing estate or a distinct community. The funding is being made available through The Allen Lane Foundation’s Social Cohesion Programme. The Foundation is particularly concerned about divisions in communities that occurred around the 2016 Referendum and subsequently. Applications will be particularly encouraged from areas of high deprivation but not exclusively and can be for new or ongoing work. Trustees meet to discuss grant applications three times a year, generally in February, June and October.

Read more.

Grants of up to £100,000 Available for Community Facilities 
Registered charities, churches, parish councils, local authorities and CASC registered sports clubs can apply for grants of between £2,000 and £100,000 for the provision, maintenance or improvement of community facilities. This can include village halls and community centres, public play areas; publicly available multi use games areas, skate parks and BMX tracks; sport and recreation grounds including pavilions and clubhouses with full public access; churches – community spaces only; nature reserves; public gardens, parks, country parks and woodlands with at least dawn to dusk access; and Museums. The funding is being made available through the FCC Community Action Fund and is available to projects located within 10 miles of an eligible FCC Environment site. The next funding round will be open between the 16th December 2020 and 5 pm on the 3rd March 2021.

Read more.

Government Announces £16.5 Million Youth Covid-19 Support Fund
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has announced an emergency funding package to protect the immediate future of grassroots and national youth organisations. £16.5 million will be available through the Youth COVID-19 Support Fund for grassroots youth clubs, uniformed youth groups, and national youth and umbrella organisations across the UK to help mitigate the impact of lost income during the winter period due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ensure services providing vital support can remain open. The funding will be allocated from the government’s £750 million package of support, of which more than £60 million has already been provided to organisations working with vulnerable children and young people. Further details, including eligibility and how to apply, are due to be announced soon.

Read more.

Funding Available to Help Community Businesses Raise Community Shares Capital
Community businesses that want to raise community shares capital that can support their recovery, or expand their business in response to Covid-19 can apply for grant funding of up to £5,000 and matched equity investment of up to £25,000 through the Power to Change ReBoost Fund. A total of £375,000 is available. Additional business development support may also be provided where required, and will be prioritised to help community businesses operating in deprived neighbourhoods, or those led by and supporting BAME communities and those led by and supporting disabled people. Expression of Interest can be submitted at any time. Those successful at this stage can submit their applications by one of the following deadlines: 6th January 2021 and the 3rd February 2021.

Read more.

The National Lottery: Local Connections Fund
This first round open on 5 January2021 & close on 26 January 2021.
The fund will help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities. The fund launches on 5 January 2021. Grants from the first round of funding will strengthen and develop small and micro organisations that connect communities together and reduce loneliness. The second round of funding will be launched in summer 2021.
Read more.

Ideas and Pioneers Fund
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation provide grants of up to £15,000 to support people with a vision of a better society to explore their ideas for change. They are open to applications all year round and the process is simple – just a short form and a two-minute video. The foundation are looking for innovative ideas and approaches and are particularly keen for ideas in their first stages.

Read more.

Grants of up to £5,000 Available for Projects that Help the Homeless 
Homeless charities can apply for capital grants of up to £5,000 for projects that aim to help homeless people return to the community and enabling them to resume a normal life.  Typically, such organisations may operate small or medium-sized residential or training facilities to assist homeless people. To be eligible to apply, the charity must have an annual turnover of under £1million and with ‘unrestricted reserves’ of under six months. The closing date for applications is the 15th March 2021.

Read more.

£400 Million Additional Funding Announced for Cultural Organisations 
The UK Government has announced an additional £400 million will be awarded to arts, culture and heritage organisations across England in the form of grants and loans from the Culture Recovery Fund. Funding, which was held back in previous rounds, will be available for Cultural organisations that were financially stable before Covid-19, but are now at imminent risk of collapse. £300 million in grants and £100 million in loans will be offered to support organisations’ transition back to their usual means of operating from April 2021. The Fund will be administered by the Arts Council England. Further details will be released in due course.



Information to Support Individuals 

Mind in Mid Herts are offering a range of ‘living well’ courses
These are designed to support people make positive changes in their lives. Courses include a ‘Sleeping Well Digital Course’, ‘Building Courage Digital Course’, and ‘Being Assertive Digital Course’.

These online courses and workshops will be delivered via Zoom by an experienced Mind in Mid Herts trainer; giving you all the benefits of face-to-face support from your own homes. They are run over four or six consecutive weeks or take place over one afternoon or evening, so you can find a course that fits your schedule.

Book here.


Online counselling and support by Kooth Plc can be accessed by visiting the below sites: is aimed at supporting 10-18 year olds. is aimed at supporting anyone 18 years or older.


Samaritans Brew Monday 18 January - Save the Date
Brew Monday is a takeover of ‘Blue Monday’ - the third Monday in January, which has previously been dubbed ‘the most difficult day of the year’. Samaritans are helping to turn the day on its head by encouraging people to get together to have a chat over a cuppa. They have developed a 'Learn to Listen' virtual event on Zoom on 18th January 2021 at 10.30am.

Read more.


The OLLIE Foundation Winter Wellbeing Programme
During December and January, the Ollie Foundation is offering a free Winter Wellbeing Programme for students(year 11 to 3rd year university). This programme aims to support young people in managing stress and anxiety, and provide important awareness for those supporting others.

Keeping Safe and Carrying On: 90-minute online workshop.

Talk Safe, Plan Safe - Suicide Crisis Training: 90-minute online training.

Goal setting: 2-hour workshop.

Talking of Men: 90-minute workshop

Read more and book here.


Beezee bodies are hosting free webinars to help families be healthier:

5 – 8 year olds – Tuesdays/Wednesday – 16:30 – 17:45 or 16:45 – 18:00

9 – 12 year olds – Monday/Tuesday – 17:00 – 18:15 or 18:00 – 19:15

13 – 16 year olds – Wednesday – 18:00 – 19:15

Book here.


Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Services (HAFLS) are now providing English and Maths skills, Employability skills, digital skills, and Level 1 Business and Administration courses, fully funded. Find all courses here.


The Hertfordshire constabulary website is providing crime prevention advice. 


New Leaf Recovery and Wellbeing College provides free of charge courses to enable you to take better control of your wellbeing. Courses offer practical tools and an opportunity for self-reflection. 

Find their spring term timetable courses here.


Are you facing social isolation and loneliness due to COVID-19?
If so, Hertfordshire Behaviour Unit want to understand your experiences. They are interested in talking to you to understand your experiences on social isolation and loneliness as a result of COVID-19. They are looking for fifteen participants of any age above 18 years from all the ten Hertfordshire districts to take part in a short online focus group or phone call interview for 40-60 minutes.



Hertfordshire County Council Resources

Grief and Bereavement Support
Many people may experience additional problems with grief and bereavement as a result of losing people they love or know or work with during the pandemic, especially if funerals cannot happen as they normally would.

  • You can find more resources on bereavement here.
  • Carers in Herts run support groups for bereaved carers – read more.
  • Guides for people bereaved as a result of covid-19 can be here.
  • Cruse bereavement care run services for people bereaved in Hertfordshire here.


Looking after your mental health and coping with lockdown

  • Hertfordshire County Council and the Centre for Mental Health to produce a brief guide to looking after your mental health through the pandemic and beyond – read more.
  • The Mental Health Foundation produced a range of material on coping with mental health issues during the Pandemic – read more.
  • Mind has produced a guide on looking after your wellbeing during this time – read more.
  • Our Healthy Young Minds pages for young people are available here
  • A resource on talking to children and young people about COVID-19 can be found here


Resources for Adults 

  • HPFT have a series of recorded webinars available to help people cope with some of the effects of anxiety and worry and other challenges through the pandemic – Read more
  • Herts Mind Network
  • A series of self-help resources are also available here


Supporting residents and colleagues
One of the most important things you can do is be hopeful, learn skills to cope and show others we can cope with and be resilient during these times. A series of resources aimed at helping people support others can be found here.   


National Dementia Helpline
If you need any support with dementia, please call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.


Friends of Fairlands Charity Quiz
Friends of Fairlands Farm CIC hosts an entertaining charity quiz, celebrating the heritage and art industries of Hertfordshire, on Monday 21st December from 7.30 pm, supporting the Mayor of Stevenage’s charities, Haven First, Sport Stevenage and Stevenage Community Trust.

Your hosts for the evening include SG1radio's Slava and Trev, Stevenage Writer's and local community quizmasters.

Book here.


Shape up is back! This 12 week FREE weight loss course is aimed at men aged 18-65 who have a BMI of 30+. If you know of anyone who could benefit from this course then contact Rhys Ratcliffe at now to secure your place.


Are you a parent or carer living in Hertfordshire? We need your views and feedback!
In Hertfordshire, the NSPCC are launching a new campaign raising awareness about neglect aimed at all communities across our county. The ‘Neglect Matters’ campaign will be launching early on in 2021 and will involve people who are working and living in Hertfordshire as well as children and young people.

In order for NSPCC to make the campaign the best it can be, they need your views! They would be grateful if you could spare 3 minutes of your time to answer a few questions, to help them measure the community’s understanding of the issue of neglect. The survey is completely anonymous but they need as many parents and carers as possible to answer it to build up a clearer picture of what parents and carers understand neglect to be. This will help us to create a campaign that will be most relevant to Hertfordshire and the people living here!

Complete the survey here.