COVID-19 Guidance for VCFSE Sector Organisations

For more general information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) from Cheshire East Council please visit the Council’s Coronavirus COVID-19 webpage.

For Volunteering support please go to our COVID-19 – Cheshire East Volunteer Led Response page

We are working closely with our partners in Cheshire East including Healthwatch. Please complete their survey now to give your feedback about health and wellbeing needs during coronavirus.

Financial/ Funding Support

The following national funding pots are available specifically for VCFSE organisations responding to, or struggling as a result of COVID-19:

  • Alpkit – Alpkit are the charity that helps people Go Nice Places, Do Good Things. However, recent global events call for a shift of focus over the coming months. Alpkit are now prioritising funds to support projects that demonstrate an immediate impact on those affected by the Covid-19 virus crisis. For more information click here.
  • Arts Council England have launched an emergency funding package for cultural organisations and individual artists. More information here.
  • Barclays Community Aid Package – the establishment of The Barclays Foundation, is initially to provide a COVID-19 Community Aid Package of £100 million to charities working to support vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19, and to alleviate the associated social and economic hardship caused by the crisis. For more information click here.
  • CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) – Smaller charities, not for profit organisations, social enterprises and unregistered community groups can apply for grants of up to £10,000 to help them to continue to deliver much needed support to within their communities. ***Please note this fund is currently paused***. For more information click here.
  • Cheshire Community Foundation – Covid-19 Response Grants Programme is for grants typically up to £10,000 * (level of funding increased as of 02-04-20).
    It is open for applications from charitable organisations supporting the ongoing needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable people affected by the covid-19 outbreak, to ensure that their health and wellbeing is maintained. This includes CICs (with three unrelated Directors). For more information click here.
  • Comic Relief – Some of the money raised through Sport Relief 2020 will go to organisations on the frontline of the response to the Coronavirus. Support is available for grantees through adapting activities, reviewing time frames or re-budgeting remaining funds. For more information click here.
  • Crisis Emergency Fund – Crisis has established an emergency grants fund to support local groups who are financially affected by additional demands on their resources and who have expanded their provision to meet the current needs of those experiencing homelessness across the UK. Local organisations and charities providing services to those experiencing homelessness can apply for grants of up to £5,000 for short-term responses to the coronavirus emergency; and grants of up to £50,000 to fund long-term needs and potential expansion or change in service delivery. For more information click here.
  • Fashion & Textiles Childrens Trust – Grants are available to help parents and carers who have worked in the UK fashion or textile industry and whose household income has reduced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Parents and carers to apply for items their children will need for the year ahead. These can include essential clothing; baby clothing, equipment or bedding; children’s bedroom furniture; essential White Goods; specialist items for children with additional needs, e.g.sensory toys, adaptive clothing or SEN adapted computers. For more information click here.
  • John Lewis Partnership – Community Support Fund – The Community Support Fund is making £1million available to communities across the UK. Teams in each shop will work together with their communities to choose the best way to use the fund. Help could include setting up additional local delivery services to support the self-isolating, the vulnerable, the elderly and those looking after them; delivering boxes of staples to local care homes and community groups, and donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours. For more information click here.
  • Leathersellers Company – This is a fast track application process for small one-off grants. It could be particularly useful for funding small projects or to cover unexpected costs. The value of the grant awarded could be up to a maximum of £3,000. For more information click here.
  • The Princes Trust & Natwest Enterprise Relief Fund – have launched a £5 million grant fund for young entrepreneurs affected by coronavirus. The Fund is available to entrepreneurs aged 18-30, who can apply for grants and tailored support from today. Grants can be used to maintain core business operations during the crisis, as well as meet any existing financial commitments, such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers. In conjunction with these grants, the initiative will also offer one-to-one support and guidance to applicants who need it. For more information click here.
  • Sport England – Community Emergency Support Package – They are making up to £195 million of funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. The package, which is a combination of National Lottery and government funding. For more information click here.
  • Standard Life Foundation – Funding is available for work directly related to the pandemic, addressing specific challenges and helping to contribute to social change which tackles financial problems and improves living standards for those on low-to-middle incomes in the UK. The work the Foundation might consider in relation to the pandemic is rapid analysis of key issues, for example, self-employed workers, the food and hospitality or social care sectors. Modelling of new proposals such as enhanced sick pay, help with utilities, high cost credit payments, and changes to pensions. Grants from £5,000 upwards are available. For more information click here.
  • Tesco Community Grants – Tesco Bags of Help is responding to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis by setting up a new short-term fund to support local communities. Due to the need to respond quickly to the emergency they have created a streamlined application process and payment process to make it easier to get funds distributed quickly. For more information click here.
  • The National Lottery Community Fund – The National Lottery Community Fund is to commit up to £300m over the next six months to helping charities tackling the coronavirus crisis. The Fund will accelerate the cash part of this funding to get it where it needs to be as quickly as possible, so that they can focus on supporting their communities. For more information click here.
  • The National Lottery Community Funding – has several different funds currently open to support different community projects. For more information click here.
  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund –  is making £50million available for a Heritage Emergency Fund to support the UK heritage sector as an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information click here.
  • The Sylvia Adams Trust is offering grants of up to £5,000 (unrestricted) to organisations who provide early years support and will experience an increase in demand due to Covid-19. More information here.
  • The Steve Morgan Foundation, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic the Steve Morgan Foundation has introduced a hardship fund to support charities and not for profits, of up to £1m a week for an initial 12 weeks. More information here.
  • Waitrose has a new £1m Community Support Fund. Teams in individual stores are being asked to choose the best way to use their share of this, so if you have a branch nearby you may wish to contact them.

Employment Funding Support

You can choose to furlough workers (send them home but keep them on payroll) and the Government will pay up to 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month. This is only available if employees are sent home and are not able to do any work, though they may still be allowed to volunteer (though not for the organisation paying their salary). More information here.

Digital Support 

Many VCFSE sector organisations are having to pivot quickly to distance working and working-from-home arrangements. This can be challenging if an organisation hasn’t done this traditionally, and doesn’t have the budget or staff to quickly mobilise digital infrastructure.

A wide range of technology tools and companies have introduced offers to support organisations responding to COVID-19. A few that might be helpful for you include:

  • Microsoft Teams is being widely used by public services (including across the NHS). It includes video-conferencing facilities, the ability to share files, and instant messaging tools (like SMS messages, but on a computer). Microsoft are now making a free version of Teams available to anyone. This might help you to engage more effectively with public sector organisations in your area. This webpage explains how people can sign up.
  • Zoom is also being widely used (and proving to be quite stable) for people to video-conference over the internet. Find out more about how to use it here.
  • Dropbox is a service for sharing files remotely. It is offering free Business accounts for 3 months to charities and non-profits working on COVID-19 response. Sign up here.
  • Mailchimp is a system for sending out email newsletter (it simplifies distribution lists, scheduling of emails etc). It is making a similar offer of free access to its paid-for service (called ‘Standard’) to Governments and charities who need to communicate with people about the disease. Sign up here.

Advice from NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Action)

NCVO have compiled advice for voluntary organisations including:

  • Events
  • Supporting beneficiaries / service users
  • How to support members of communities facing discrimination
  • Developing a contingency plan

Visit the NCVO website here for further details.

Guidance for social or community care and residential settings on COVID-19 – Public Health England

If you are providing services in the social, community care or residential care setting there is some specific advice for providers of these services here on the government website here.

For more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the UK government response please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response