Communication from Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Please find below an important communication from SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)

scvoWe are in an unprecedented time of challenge for our communities and the people we support.

I am aware that many of you will be fielding a huge number of enquiries from concerned organisations worried about their sustainability, continuity of service to the people they support and the desire to help out to tackle the new challenges emerging.

Please be assured that we are working with the Scottish Government Third Sector Unit and Resilience teams to co-ordinate the response nationally.

Two areas of action that are worth being aware of are:

• Funding – new funding streams will be announced today and tomorrow to support voluntary organisations both at Scottish and UK Levels. The National Emergency Trust is also spinning up its plans for a dedicated, co-ordinated fundraising campaign across the UK that will then flow to local communities. We are also trying to ensure the desire of independent funders to help is co-ordinated, to ensure consistency of message to the sector. Here is our collation of how some major funders have responded to existing grantees.

• Volunteering – There is a huge amount of spontaneous community support taking place, which is great to see. Although we are also aware of the increased risks of fraud and scams for vulnerable people. A UK wide campaign will launch tomorrow, focused on ensuring people remain safe. Laura Turney has been drafted in from Community Empowerment to the Third Sector Unit to co-ordinate the Scottish Government action on volunteering. Virtual meetings will be convened in due course to co-ordinate what action needs to be taken.

It is important to remain calm and not rush to immediate action, as we are aware that from previous international emergencies, the positive desire of individuals and groups to help can often have unintended consequences and result negative longer-term impacts.

National and Regional Resilience partnerships are implementing their risk management plans and there are third sector 'responder' organisations who have planned support in place for pandemics. There is a meeting of the National Voluntary Sector Resilience Partnership today and I will update as soon as I can. Regional Resilience Plans are available on the Ready Scotland website.

Information and guidance for the sector

SCVO is managing the COVID-19 voluntary sector information hub that will be constantly updated. Currently, our focus is on encouraging organisations to stay up-to-date with official guidance whilst also reviewing the specific risks that COVID-19 poses to their organisation and service so they can plan to mitigate the impact wherever possible.

We would urge organisations now to focus on considered planning around service continuity and how to manage risk, particular in the areas of:

• Looking after beneficiaries & service users
• Looking after your employees
• Buildings & facilities
• Finance & fundraising
• Communication

The most important things you can do to help minimise the impact of COVID 19 is follow the principles of:

• Cleanliness – follow the handwashing and hygiene guidance. If you are showing any symptoms, however minor, please follow self-isolation guidance.

• Neighbourliness – checking on your neighbours, particularly older people and vulnerable groups, to see if they need assistance. Communicating by phone / text is preferable to face-to-face contact.

As the situation evolves, we are likely to provide more information and guidance on areas where specific support is needed, for example around funding and volunteering.

Consistency of message is key in a crisis situation. Later today, we will be establishing a two communication lists for regular updates:

• COVID-19 Stakeholder Network – we will provide regular updates to TSIs, intermediaries and other organisations and bodies who can cascade information to their members, networks and contacts.

• COVID-19 Voluntary Sector Bulletin - we will also communicate directly with charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises

We will also likely be launching a website where organisations can offer and find support in their area, available to individuals and public services.

Information gathering

SCVO is also gathering information from our members and the wider voluntary sector on the key challenges organisations are facing, as well the types of support needed to enable organisations to respond effectively.

Please share your experiences and thoughts on where additional support is required by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Engaging with the TSI Network

Given the volume of communication, it is difficult to maintain full dialogue in this situation, I would therefore like to consider the best way for us to get feedback and intelligence on how best to support the local infrastructure, whether that is by nominating a single point of contact from the Chief Officers or having us join a channel in your Slack group so communications can be open.

Thank you to everyone for their contribution to supporting the sector and communities. The sector and communities will come through this crisis together.