Lessons from the Pandemic – report

In September 2020 Support Cambridgeshire was commissioned to carry out some research into how the voluntary sector and statutory partners have responded to Covid-19. As part of this we talked with:

  • 19 groups made up from a range of county-wide, small and newly formed community groups and charities;
  • representatives from six district/city Covid-response hubs and the county hub.

The resulting report paints a picture of an exceptional response to this extraordinary time. There has been innovation and collaboration on unprecedented scales, and also a need to tailor responses to local needs.

Read the report here.

Trustee Vacancies at Cambridgeshire Community Foundation

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) is the local funding body for our county, administering grants for a range of organisations from Cambridgeshire County Council’s Innovate and Cultivate fund and Amey Community Fund to the  Microsoft Research Limited Fund. Its mission is to

  • Actively inspire philanthropy and increase permanent resources for the county of Cambridgeshire
  • Invest in important community programmes through grants
  • Provide leadership and a forum for dialogue on critical community issue

The Foundation is currently recruiting trustees, including a chair of trustees; there will be a handover period with the existing chair. Please click here for more information and Recruitment Packs.

Updated Guidance on Volunteering, Shielding and Furlough

Everything is moving fast since the announcement of the lockdown that came into force on 5 November 2020, and community organisations may be struggling to keep up. This quick primer should bring you up to speed on the key facts.

This article was published on 6 November 2020. We will strive to update it as new information becomes available.

Jump to:

The growing numbers of Covid-19 cases has lead to the reintroduction of tighter lockdown restrictions across England. The advice now is to stay at home and avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes. Various businesses and venues are also closed.

Volunteering

One of the “specific purposes” where people are permitted to leave their home is for “work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot do this from home.” (link here)

Elsewhere on the Gov.uk website (here) it gives more information about volunteering:

“While volunteering, you can meet in groups of any size from different households, indoors or outdoors. When meeting people from outside your household or support bubble, you should follow social distancing guidelines.”

The guidance goes to say that people can travel to volunteer or while volunteering, and restates rules about face coverings. It also lists ways to volunteer, with just four examples given:

  • shop for food and medicine (online, or in person)
  • deliver food and medicine
  • help with food banks and homeless services
  • work on a telephone support helpline

From this guidance, it is unclear whether this is an exhaustive list or just examples. Crucially, the guidance doesn’t state whether contact with other people while volunteering for other causes is currently permitted. However, the links to general volunteering opportunities such as Reach Volunteering imply that any form of formal volunteering meets the criteria.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people

During the first lockdown in March-July 2020, people who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) were instructed to shield. These are the people who are at the highest risk of become very unwell if they were to catch Covid-19 – the list of medical conditions can be found here. During March to July, shielding meant no contact with anyone outside of their own home, except for medical reasons.

This time (from 5 November), the rules aren’t quite as strict. CEV people who live alone can continue to be part of a support bubble with another household. However the government is still advising that they “stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend essential health appointments.” On that basis, demand for community shopping services is likely to increase for this group.

The guidance for CEV people goes on to say, “You may wish to meet up with one other person from outside your household or support bubble, for example, to exercise in an outdoor public place, but we suggest that you always try to do so as safely as possible.” This is the same rule as for the general public. However, it’s a different story for CEV people and work: “You are strongly advised to work from home. If you cannot work from home, you should not attend work for this period of restrictions.” People in this situation may be eligible for furlough (see below).

While these restrictions for CEV people aren’t as tough as in the first lockdown, it’s important to realise that the risks to their health are just as high. Community support groups may wish to consider how they can encourage these people to stay safe while still maintaining some kind of social contact.

Extension of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

On 30 October 2020, the day before the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS, also known as Furlough) was due to be replaced by the less generous Job Support Scheme, it was announced that CJRS would be extended through November for this latest lockdown period. On 5 November, there was a further announcement that CJRS would be extended to 31 March 2021.

The latest guidance is yet to be published, but as of 31 October, the guidance is that employees can be placed on full-time or part-time furlough, with the government paying a grant to the employer to cover 80% of salaries for the hours not worked, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. Employers have the option to top up salaries.

Previously CJRS was only available to people who had already been placed on furlough before 1 July 2020. The government’s CJRS page still states this rule, although BBC News reports that employees “must have been on the payroll by 30 October 2020. They do not need to have been furloughed before.” This is backed up by the guidance on this government page. We will update this page when the change to the rules is confirmed.

Measuring the Impact

As Covid-19 raced around the globe and overwhelmed our communities, the three organisations that form the Support Cambridgeshire partnership – like so many others – have had to make some big adjustments to respond to changing needs and practices. Our face-to-face events were all cancelled but people and organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector still needed our support.

Each partner has seen an increase in demand, as new organisations were set up in response to the pandemic, and existing ones needed additional support as their remit grew. The demand from the local communities they serve had shot up at the same time as many income streams dwindled or disappeared completely.

This infographic highlights the impact the Support Cambridgeshire partnership has made across the county. It looks at our six themes – Parish & Town Councils, Training, Voice and Representation, Community Building Support, Volunteering and Social Action, and Communication and Funding – and draws out some of the facts and figures of our work during the first six months of the pandemic (March to August 2020).

Local Infrastructure Support: the Beating Heart of the Voluntary Sector

#HeartOfOurCommunity campaign highlights the work of Support Cambridgeshire and its peers across the UK.

The Support Cambridgeshire partnership and other local infrastructure organisations like us support voluntary and community organisations in all the good work they do. We provide training and advice, make introductions, campaign on their behalf and do whatever it takes to help our member organisations thrive. It’s often during the more challenging times that community groups turn to us for help, and this has certainly been true during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been our privilege to serve the voluntary and community organisations – and the people – of Cambridgeshire throughout these challenging times.

We’re very grateful to our national body NAVCA for inviting us to participate in this video that celebrates the work of infrastructure organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to find out more, or help spread the word via the #HeartOfOurCommunity campaign on Twitter.

Festival of Ideas: Watch Again

In June 2020, Hunts Forum and Support Cambridgeshire took their annual Connecting Communities Conference online with a Festival of Ideas. Four one-hour online events throughout the week explored volunteer retention during and after COVID-19.

These events are now available to watch here.


The festival was produced by Hunts Forum on behalf of Support Cambridgeshire and funded by Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council. Many thanks to Rob Jackson, Benita Matofska, Kelly Holliday, Chris Trevorrow at CCVS and everyone else who contributed to the festival.

Meet the Funders Webinar

In these testing times funding bodies are adapting application processes, monitoring and evaluation to increase flexibility and response times to get the funds needed in our communities.

On 18 June 2020, Support Cambridgeshire hosted Fiona Brice from the National Lottery Community Fund, and Bridget Mailley and Michael O’Toole from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation talking about the changing face of funding in the Covid and post-Covid world. Each provided information and tips on applying for their funds. You can watch a recording of this webinar below.

We’d like to thank Fiona, Bridget and Michael for their time and for providing such valuable insights and information.

 

Please note: questions submitted by attendees prior to the webinar were addressed by the presenters within their presentations. No public questions were submitted during the webinar.


Feedback from the event:

We have found the Webinar organised by Hunts Forum to provide help with applications for emergency funding due to COVID-19 incredibly useful. Following the webinar, we chose to apply to the Cambridge Community Foundation, and were delighted to receive a grant within a few days. This grant will pay for six months of weekly Zoom sessions provided by Riverport Singers, St Ives Dementia Friendly Choir.
The newly formed Choir, that is supported by the St Ives Dementia Friendly Community Steering Group, enjoyed only three rehearsals before the pandemic has put our activities on hold. In May we started weekly singing sessions on Zoom. These online sessions are holding the group together until the Choir is allowed to safely recommence their rehearsals in person, providing stimulation and social engagement to our members. The grant also enables us to provide extended sessions from September onwards. We are incredibly grateful for the grant, and for Hunts Forum, to provide us with the necessary information and support.
Agi Peach, St Ives Dementia Friendly Community Steering Group

Connecting Communities: Festival of Ideas

UPDATE: These events have now taken place – you can watch them at your leisure here.

 

 

This year Hunts Forum and Support Cambridgeshire are taking their annual Connecting Communities Conference online with a Festival of Ideas. Starting on 22 June 2020, there will be four one-hour events throughout the week to explore volunteer retention during and after COVID-19.

We are excited to have several wonderful speakers who will look at a range of questions and ideas. Rob Jackson is the co-author of The Complete Volunteer Management Handbook and From The Top Down, both of which are used by Directory of Social Change in their training. Benita Matofska is a world-renowned speaker, change-maker and author of Generation Share, a ground-breaking book containing the world’s first collection of inspiring stories of the change-makers building a new economy. Kelly Holliday is the Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, and has years of experience in stewardship and volunteer management.

You are welcome to attend all the events or just sign up to the ones which take your fancy. Each event will take on a slightly different format, with a mixture of conversations, presentations and training.

These events are funded by Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, and open to anyone who works or volunteers for non-profit organisations in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough. Some events will have a limit on attendee numbers; you will be sent a unique link to the event. As numbers are limited , we ask no more than two delegates from each organisation attend this event.

Throughout the event you will be encouraged to Tweet using the hashtag #CCFestivalofIdeas

Schedule

A Conversation with Rob Jackson

Monday 22 June – 10-11am

Book Now (Eventbrite)

Kat Shepherdson, Deputy CEO at Hunts Forum, speaks with Rob Jackson (RJC Biog) about his ideas and thoughts on what COVID -19 means for volunteer management and recruitment moving forward. Are there lessons we can learn? What did this influx of volunteers tell us about the public attitude to volunteering? How do we keep those who are going back to work engaged in our organisations? Rob will explore these questions and more.

A Presentation by Benita Matafska

Tuesday 23 June, 1-2pm

Book Now (Eventbrite)

Benita Matafska talks through her ideas and thoughts about the concept of a sharing economy and how this can be applied to the current world we live in.

Stewardship and Fundraising

Wednesday 24 June, 1-2pm

Book Now (Eventbrite)

Kelly Holiday shares her experiences of managing Alzheimer’s UK’s relationships with people who fundraise for the charity via sporting events. She will draw on this to explore how smaller organisations can turn newly recruited volunteers into long-term supporters.

How do we Keep this Community Spirit Alive?

Thursday 25th June, 10-11am

Book Now (Eventbrite)

Staff from CCVS and Hunts Forum invite organisations to discuss their views around the Power to Change Report, Local Heroes: How to sustain community spirit beyond Covid-19. What are the common threads between the report and the other presentations and discussions at our Festival of Ideas? How can organisations apply these ideas?

Volunteers’ Week – Say Cheers to your Volunteers!

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic 100,000s of people have volunteered to help their local communities joining an army of over 20 million people who volunteer each year to help others. Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June 2020) is about thanking our volunteers for giving up their time, energy and skills and recognising the difference they make to our communities.

We know that groups have a lot to deal with right now so we have put together some ideas and resources to help you highlight the difference your volunteers make and ensure your volunteers feel appreciated for all they do.

Please click here for our resource toolkit in Microsoft Word format.

Now we’re talking – coming together in isolation

Organisations across the county have joined forces to launch a wellbeing campaign and additional mental health support for people during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Now We’re Talking’, encourages people to get talking to combat loneliness whilst self-isolating, and to seek help if they are struggling with their mental health.

The campaign, led by the local authority, NHS and third sector also directs people to increased mental health support available including:

  • Lifeline Plus – a mental health and wellbeing helpline for people aged 18 and over living in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, is available Monday-Friday between 9am and 2pm via freephone 0808 808 2121. The line will support people to manage their wellbeing, provide selfhelp advice or signpost to other organisations for particular concerns.  7 days a week, between 2pm and 11pm the same number is Lifeline, managed by Lifecraft who provide support for those in mental health distress: 0808 808 2121.
  • Qwell – an online wellbeing support, including educational and self-help articles and peer-topeer support via forums. Adults are also able to receive help from qualified counsellors via dropin or scheduled online chat sessions. www.qwell.io  Keep Your Head – this website brings together all the mental health support available across the county – www.keep-your-head.com/now

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