Support for your group or organisation
We want to ensure that voluntary & community sector organisations in Eastbourne, Lewes District and Wealden have access to up-to-date information about the situation regarding coronavirus (Covid-19) that will help you decide what steps you and your organisation may need to take.
New restrictions from 5 November 2020: Key takeaways for the sector
- The new national restrictions will apply to England from Thursday 5 November 2020 with all non-essential businesses having to close their premises from midnight. There is a full list on the government website and, crucially, there are exceptions for childcare and groups providing mutual support.
- The Coronavirus Retention Scheme has been extended for a month with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked up to a maximum of £2,500. The scheme will remain in place until December.
- Business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants of up to £3,000 per month and local authorities will be getting funds to provide local business support.
- Volunteers will be able to volunteer in permitted activities.
See the full government guidance here.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are struggling to find the right information you need to run your group. We may be able to provide support, make connections or offer training. We are here Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Get the latest guidance on staying safe and minimising the risk of infection.
Community and public transport
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers (GOV.UK)
- Coronavirus/COVID-19 Guidance for Community Transport (Community Transport Association)
Employers and employees
- COVID-19 guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (GOV.UK)
- Information to help you decide what steps you and your charity or voluntary organisation need to take (NCVO)
- Charity Mentors East Sussex – free service offered remotely by experienced, volunteer mentors to help your charity or community group plan strategic direction or new ways of working.
Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to disseminate our weekly e-Newsletter each Monday afternoon. The e-Newsletter contains the latest local voluntary & community sector news, events, consultations, training and job opportunities. You can subscribe to the e-Newsletter at the bottom of this page.
Posters and leaflets
Older People’s Services Network
We are running an online network for groups and organisations planning the reopening of services for older people. It meets once a month and is an opportunity to share information, learn how others are approaching reopening and talk through issues with your colleagues. To join the network, please contact us.
WhatsApp group – pandemic response
In response to the initial crisis phase of the pandemic, a large number of community groups either set themselves up, stopped doing their normal activities to help deliver food and essentials to those self-isolating or began providing telephone befriending services. To support these groups, 3VA set up WhatsApp groups for Eastbourne, Lewes District and Wealden which continue to be a space where information is available about where to get help and find answers to questions. To request an invitation to join one of these groups, please contact us.
Protecting yourself, your staff and your volunteers
Information on protecting and supporting the people working in your charity or voluntary organisation, and those who use your services during the coronavirus outbreak:
- Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) (GOV.UK)
- Every Mind Matters self-care resources – campaign to support people to manage their mental well being during this difficult time (Public Health England)
- How to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak (Mental Health Foundation)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Staying safe outside your home – face coverings (GOV.UK)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks (World Health Organisation)
- A Guide to Video and telephone meeting tools (Resource Centre)
- Charity Excellence Framework:
- Coronavirus: Why remote working is the right fit for charities
- Coronavirus Tech Handbook
- Digital Maturity Frameworks Overview – 57 digital tools, sortable by category, etc.
- Alidade – interactive tool to help you find the right technology tools
- Superhighways – digital support and resources for small organisations
- 3VA training programme – we’ve moved all our training online
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and volunteering (NCVO and Bates Wells)
- Employment law topics and employment relations (Acas)
- Webinars on a variety of topics for the voluntary sector (NCVO)
- Beacon Programme online events (Association of Chairs)
- Food Hygiene (Cocoms)
- Health & Safety Training (CPD certificated) (Cocoms)
- Coronanxiety – coping during the pandemic (Anxiety UK)
A wide range of emergency funding opportunities has been set up to support voluntary & community sector groups throughout the pandemic. Due to high demand, it’s possible that funding opportunities may pause temporarily or close to applications before the advertised deadline, so be sure to check.
Government financial support for charities
The Government has pledged £750 million to ensure voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations can continue their vital work supporting the country during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including £200 million for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts.
National funding opportunities
NCVO has compiled one of the most comprehensive lists of funding opportunities available to voluntary & community groups responding to the national emergency across the UK.
Local funding opportunities
Sussex-based financial support for the voluntary and community sector in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Support for vulnerable people
It’s incredibly important to stay up-to-date on the latest information on coronavirus, including guidance, support, announcements and statistics. There are several national and local sources of information and help.
Get coronavirus support as a clinically extremely vulnerable person
Anyone who feels they need extra support and has no other way to get it can:
- use a community hub (details below) or
- request support from the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm) to arrange volunteer support.
Shielding paused on 1 August 2020. If you have been shielding and still need help, or if you are self-isolating and avoiding public places you can ask for help.
People who received a letter from the NHS because they are at high risk and don’t have a support network of friends and family around them, were able to register with the Government until 17 July 2020. The last boxes of basic supplies were sent out by 31 July 2020.
Get help from an East Sussex Community Hub
Community hubs were set up when the UK went into lockdown. They are here to help residents of East Sussex who have no one else to turn to and:
- feel they need extra help in coping with the effects of coronavirus
- know someone else who needs help.
Many people will already have the support they need from family, friends, carers or neighbours and will not need their community hub. But it’s vital that no one is left without support.
Eastbourne Borough Community Hub
Phone: 01323 679 722 (option 1)
Lewes District Community Hub
Phone: 01273 099 956 (option 1)
Wealden District Community Hub
Phone: 01323 443 322
Get help from a local charity or community group
Voluntary & community groups throughout Eastbourne, Lewes District and Wealden have stepped up to offer help with shopping, mental health and information and advice.
For our colleagues who may be supporting clients who are sick or self-isolating, we have compiled a list of those community groups and organisations that are helping during the crisis. If you have information about a service or group that is not on the lists or if you cannot find the information you need, please contact us.
Please click below for the most recent lists:
Volunteering during the pandemic
Volunteering to help others has and will continue to be crucial in the response to coronavirus. However, volunteering that requires going out of the house is only permitted in certain circumstances.
If you are well and are not at risk from coronavirus, you can undertake essential activities including delivering food, helping people with their medical needs (e.g. picking up prescriptions and providing essential care) or to help a vulnerable person or person(s), including through essential public and voluntary services such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions.
New national restrictions and volunteering
New guidance about volunteering has been issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) (see below). However, guidance is still be developed and will be updated in a few days. Keep an eye out for updates either on their website here.
However, while volunteers may take part in volunteering for permitted volunteering and charitable activities, the onus is on the organisation concerned to ensure that the volunteering is taking place in a Covid-19 safe way. On the basis of previous conversations with Public Health at East Sussex County Council, we strongly recommend that you revisit your Covid-19 risk assessment for staff and volunteers, considering the volunteer’s role, the environment in which they will be volunteering and the individual’s personal and health circumstances.
The current DCMS guidance is as follows:
The new restrictions come into effect on Thursday 5 November. Until then, the current local COVID alert level restrictions apply. The implications of the new restrictions for volunteering are outlined below:
Where possible, people should volunteer from home. If they cannot do so, they can volunteer outside their home if they follow the social distancing guidance and no one in their household has symptoms of coronavirus or has tested positive for coronavirus.
Voluntary and charitable activities are exempt from a number of the new restrictions. This means that, where volunteers are able to volunteer outside their home (see above) they can:
- meet in groups of any size indoors or outdoors while volunteering
- travel to volunteer or while volunteering
As always, it should be a volunteer’s personal choice whether they wish to volunteer, including outside their home, and they should not be compelled to do so by their organisation or group. Volunteer-involving organisations must ensure their workplaces meet coronavirus safety standards.
People over the age of 60 and those who are clinically vulnerable do not face any specific restrictions on volunteering and should follow the same guidelines as above. However, as this group could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, they may need additional support to follow social distancing rules and minimise contact with others.
There is a further group of people who are defined, on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. Clinically extremely vulnerable people can volunteer from home; they are advised not to volunteer outside their home. The Government will write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.
Existing GOV.UK coronavirus volunteering guidance pages will be updated in line with the new announcements later this week when the new rules come into effect. We will also work to bring forward the launch of our planned new guidance for volunteer-involving organisations and groups and publish it as soon as possible. This guidance will help organisations and groups understand how to involve volunteers safely in their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ways to help
The simplest thing everyone can do is to look out for their neighbours and offer help with shopping and other errands if people cannot get out of the house. And it’s not just about neighbours who are self-isolating – stretched essential workers might also appreciate an offer of help.
In light of the unprecedented growth of online COVID-19 informal support groups, VODA has developed a new Informal Volunteering Guidance sheet for volunteers and a series of videos with useful guidance on areas such as Supporting Volunteers – aimed primarily at informal volunteering groups – Safeguarding, Telephone Befriending Tips and how to Stay Safe as a Volunteer.
Get involved locally
If you don’t have a particular charity you already want to support in your local area, you can contact local charities directly or get in touch with your local volunteer centre to find out about volunteering opportunities.
Other options include Volunteering Matters, which can help you find out where your help is most needed, and the British Red Cross Community Reserve Volunteers Scheme where you can sign up to be contacted if people are needed locally.
Covid Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers supporting local community groups organising mutual aid throughout the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. The groups focus on providing resources and connecting people to their nearest local groups, willing volunteers and those in need.
How to help others safely
If you leave home to provide care or help to a vulnerable person – you should follow the Government’s guidelines on staying safe as a volunteer.
You can also adopt some simple precautions to support you in helping your neighbours whilst protecting vulnerable residents. Some practical steps include:
- Keeping records of money spent
- Providing shopping receipts
- Ensuring that volunteers do not enter people’s homes
- Ensuring that volunteers and helpers carry ID with them, if anyone wishes to verify the service. The ID ought to include the volunteer’s name and photograph (if possible), your organisation’s name and logo (if available) and a main contact telephone number for your organisation. If you need support with stationery or printing please contact us.
Things to consider when involving volunteers
Where people require support, the first option should always be to rely on friends, family, or neighbours who already know one another. If this is not possible, there are some very simple steps that can be taken to make arrangements with community volunteers as safe as possible. Particular care must be taken where children or vulnerable adults, such as those with dementia or other medical needs, are helped.
Every organisation, even an informal one, should always consider having simple guidance for volunteers, issued to all volunteers and helpers. If you need help with drafting the document please contact us. The most important thing you can do as a volunteer organiser is to ensure your group considers safeguarding practices. Vulnerable people still need to be protected, particularly where money is involved in paying for food and medications and systems need to be put in place to protect them.
For more online information about safeguarding:
- East Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board
- 3VA’s Guide to Safeguarding Adults Through the Coronavirus Pandemic
If you have a concern about an adult at risk you should contact:
East Sussex County Council’s Health and Social Care Connect:
0345 60 80 191
Due to the high volume of calls they are receiving, people are being advised to email if their call is not answered within 5 minutes: call on
If you have a concern about a child at risk you should contact:
East Sussex County Council’s Single Point of Access (SPoA) Monday to Thursday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on 01323 464 222.
You can also contact the out of hours team on 01273 335 905 or 01273 335 906 or email SPoA@eastsussex.gov.uk.
Normal safeguarding rules apply to any activities; you cannot bypass or fast track the safeguarding process. Those who visit vulnerable people in their homes must be DBS checked. However, most roles for volunteers in the current situation (e.g. delivering food to the door) will not involve them coming into contact with people and for this there is no legal requirement to carry out DBS checks.
The only people who are legally prevented from volunteering with children and vulnerable adults are those who have been barred from doing so by DBS. All community groups and organisations should ask their volunteers if they have been barred. If they have been barred, then you should not allow them to work closely with children or vulnerable adults.
Please remember that conducting a DBS check is not the only way of assessing if volunteers are suitable for the role(s) you are recruiting for. We would recommend that you also use other methods as part of your recruitment process such as:
- having a written task description/ role specification;
- holding an informal interview; and
- requesting references.
For more information please read Government Advice – Safeguarding and DBS Factsheet: FAQs. If you require any further assistance about DBS checks for volunteers, please feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com or on 01323 639 373.
In terms of signposting on when a DBS check is appropriate you are advised to use the DBS website to access the current guidelines. Check on the DBS eligibility tool on their website is recommended as a first stop for anyone who is not clear on whether an individual is eligible for a DBS check, and at what level of disclosure. We are currently unaware of any changes in eligibility around COVID19 applications. You can access the eligibility tool.
If you feel your enquiry needs further clarification and you are still not sure if a volunteer role requires a DBS check or not, the DBS also have a customer service email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In terms of changes around Covid-19 applications, these have been more around the speed of attaining the DBS clearance, and the DBS have in place a fast tracking for the barred list checks enabling organisations to make a quicker recruitment decision. ID checking has also been amended during this period.
Requesting DBS checks
Locally, East Sussex County Council offer an umbrella service to groups wishing to register to obtain DBS checks. The registration is a one-off fee of £50.00 and each DBS check for an individual volunteer has an administration fee of £9.00. Details of other umbrella bodies can be found on the DBS website.
SELCS (South East Language and Cultural Services) is also a registered umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Since the start of lockdown, SELCS has been providing low cost DBS checks using a virtual process, following government guidance. Volunteer DBS checks are free, with a £6 admin charge – lower than many other DBS providers. Please contact Zoë Harris on 07840 794777 or Pauline Lorence on 07840 794595 or email email@example.com for more information.
Delivering food and other goods
It is unlikely that you can catch coronavirus from food and/or packaging by following infection control advice. By following the advice below which has been approved by East Sussex County Council Public Health, you can minimise the risk of transmitting or catching the virus.
Food stores are required to have a system in place for managing food safety. This includes guidance on food handling, ensuring staff have a high degree of personal cleanliness and that they wash their hands frequently and especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If you are delivering food to someone who is self-isolating, this is the advice we have received from Public Health and the Food Standards Agency:
- If you are unwell, you should not be delivering food. And if you are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus, or someone else in your household is, you should be following government advice and staying at home.
- Sanitise the trolley/basket handle and your hands before starting to shop.
- Do not touch your face with your hands while shopping.
- Touch only what you are going to buy.
- Sanitise your hands after shopping. If driving, sanitise your hands after touching the steering wheel.
- As the weather warms up, do not keep bags of perishable foods in your car.
- If it is not going to be delivered immediately, make sure you refrigerate perishable food to discourage the growth of bacteria.
- On arrival at the house you should knock on the door and then stand back (to a distance of at least 2 metres) and wait for the person to come to the door and take the parcel.
- There is no need to sanitise goods before they are delivered if you have followed the good practice above.
- If you are concerned that food has become contaminated, you, or the person you are delivering to, can wipe non-porous surfaces with food safe disinfectant or wash with hot soapy water.
- Advise the person you are delivering to that they should unpack the shopping and then wash their hands and any kitchen surfaces that the packaging has come into contact with, and dispose of the packing.
- Advise them that they should wash their hands before and after eating and frequently wipe down surfaces and door handles etc.
Further advice from the Government urges people to try to limit the amount of time spend outside of your home, by picking up essential items for others only when you do your own shopping. Or you could help those who aren’t as familiar with online shopping by placing an order for them or by talking them through the process over the phone.
Government advice states that you can pick up medicines on someone else’s behalf. People should only request medication that they need, in their usual quantities. Remember to keep a safe distance when leaving any items on the person’s doorstep or drop-off area and make sure that they have collected the medication before leaving.
For more information, please see Healthwatch’s leaflet Collecting a prescription for someone else?
From 1 August 2020, community pharmacies will no longer receive any financial support from the government to help them to continue delivering medicines to patients’ homes, and many will no longer be able to do so. Shielding patients should receive a letter from the government about the changes.
Advice for patients who still need help to receive their prescription:
- Some pharmacies may choose to continue to fund a delivery service themselves, but this might be restricted to certain patients. Your local pharmacy will tell you if it is doing this.
- The vast majority of pharmacies will need to stop providing free deliveries on cost grounds though. Pharmacies can and will support patients to access their medicines in other ways – for example by giving medicines to patients’ friends or relatives, or helping patients to source volunteers to collect medicines for them
- Instead, patients are being advised to:
- ask a friend or relative to collect their medicines for them;
- call NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm) to arrange support;
- or contact their pharmacy directly or their local authority community hub to ask for a community volunteer to go to pharmacy to collect medicines for them (see the contact information for community hubs on pages 3 – 4).
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak most community pharmacies were already offering some form of prescription delivery service, but it is important to note that many of these were not free of charge to patients. Delivering medicines can create significant cost for pharmacies as it often means hiring delivery drivers and investing in equipment such as suitable vans.
However, there is no NHS-funded prescription medicines delivery service, so pharmacies have to cover these costs themselves, except in a small number of situations, like specified appliances HM Government funding cuts to pharmacies in recent years had meant that some pharmacies simply could not afford to keep providing delivery services for free: some needed to start charging patients for the services or cutting back on the number of patients who were offered free deliveries to prioritise those in most need of help.
The Local Pharmaceutical Committee for Sussex and Surrey have produced a briefing note on deliveries pre-Covid, which will apply again from 1 August 2020.
Organisations and community helpers should consider how to safely handle money. We have created advice on safely handling money using information from the government and national and local charities, with plenty of practical examples and tips:
Food boxes for people shielding
The last national and local food boxes for shielding people were sent out by 31 July. People can no longer register for national food boxes.
Shielding people who had already registered for and got priority access to supermarket deliveries will keep it.
What we are doing
Since the start of this national emergency, we have been working closely with statutory partners and Rother Voluntary Action (RVA) and Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA) to strengthen and support a community response to the crisis in East Sussex. We have been amazed and heartened at the way in which communities have come together to support each other.
Since the end of the initial crisis phase, we have begun to look at areas of emerging social need (e.g. an increase in domestic violence and mental health issues) and what support and resources voluntary and community groups will want to access in order to help meet that need. We are also supporting organisations to reopen safely and to return to delivering support and services to their communities.
Covid-19 updates from 3VA
Read all of the statements issued by our CEO, Adam Chugg: