The roadmap out of lockdown: Key areas of focus for charities and voluntary organisations

On 22 February the government published its roadmap out of national lockdown. Since the roadmap was published, we’ve been hearing from charities and voluntary organisations across England about their concerns and key areas of focus. 

Questions from charities and voluntary organisations

The concerns of many organisations reflect the view that putting a service on hold is a lot easier than starting one up again. With services being allowed to re-open, the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in September 2021 and the continued roll out of the government’s mass vaccination programme, organisations are asking themselves the following questions:

  • What will be the impact of the furlough scheme coming to an end?
  • How can we support staff, volunteers and beneficiaries to feel safe?
  • How can we re-engage volunteers who have stepped down as a result of the pandemic?
  • How can we adapt and thrive in a post-covid-19 world?

Key areas of focus for charities and voluntary organisations

Below we outline what charities and voluntary organisations have told us are their key areas of focus as lockdown eases. Where applicable we signpost to relevant guidance for further support.

  1.       Supporting the wellbeing of staff and volunteers

Organisations recognise the easing of lockdown will cause increased anxiety. It will take time to adapt to the gradual resuming of ‘normality.’ Some may have experienced the loss of a loved one. Others may be struggling to cope with a prolonged period of working from home. On top of this, the demand for services is unlikely to change. This may lead to staff and volunteers feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.

Organisations need to proactively think about their plans to support the wellbeing of staff and volunteers. This starts with making time to have open conversations with staff and volunteers to talk through any concerns as well as carefully managing workloads. See our guidance on supporting staff wellbeing.  

  1.       Re-engaging and retaining volunteers

Volunteers have played a vital role during the pandemic. Many organisations have relied on them to meet increased demand and respond to the changing needs of their beneficiaries. With the easing of lockdown and with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme coming to an end, organisations are concerned that existing volunteers will be less available to offer support.   

Organisations need to think about how they can balance the changing needs of their volunteers as lockdown eases with their organisation’s need for volunteers to carry out particular roles. This may require a degree of flexibility. For example, organisations may need to review their volunteer roles and think about whether these roles could be done in a different way or when people have less time. See our guidance on supporting volunteers in your team.

  1.       Supporting staff, volunteers and beneficiaries to stay safe

Creating a safe working environment and being clear about the practical implications of the government’s guidelines is a top priority. 

Whilst the vaccine programme provides a route out of the pandemic, our understanding of the impact of the vaccine on transmission of covid-19 is developing. Many organisations have started to think about their approach to covid-19 vaccines and testing. Currently vaccines are not a mandatory requirement and making it a requirement for staff should be approached with a high degree amount of caution. See our guidance on supporting staff and covid-19 vaccinations.  

As lockdown eases, organisations will still need to ensure they adhere to government guidance on working safely during coronavirus. See our guidance on managing covid risk.  

  1.       Getting funding

The financial impact of covid-19 on the sector is striking. Many organisations have expressed their concerns about getting funding to cover core costs.

Finding funding can be hard. Our partners, Idox, recently launched My Funding Central to help organisations with an income of under £1m find funding opportunities. The platform is free for organisations with an income under £30,000. For organisations with an income over £1m, DSC’s Funds online offers a similar service.

  1.       Preparing for the future of work

It’s probably too early to say what exactly the future of work will look like, but many organisations are anticipating some staff continuing to work from home even as lockdown eases. 

Organisations may want to either develop and/or review their working from home policy. ACAS provide useful guidance on working from home to help organisations develop a homeworking policy and make longer-term changes to working arrangements. NCVO have HR Trusted Suppliers who can also help organisations adapt to new working arrangements.

As the voluntary sector continues to navigate the roadmap out of lockdown, at NCVO we will continue to support organisations with:

 

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