Support for the Third Sector and volunteering in Wales

TITLE Coronavirus (COVID-19) : Support for the Third Sector and Volunteering
DATE 06 April 2020
BY Jane Hutt AM, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip

 

 Our communities are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.  There are many charities, community groups and other third sector organisations dealing with the impact of this virus. Volunteers across Wales are playing a vital role in enabling people to stay at home helping us protect the NHS and social care and save lives. We know more people want to play their part and we are working across sectors with Third Sector Support Wales, Local Authorities and NHS Wales to make this happen.

In response to the pressures on the third sector and the increasing numbers of people who want to volunteer I have announced a Welsh Government Third Sector Covid-19 Response Fund worth £24 million. This will support three distinct areas of activity:

  • Helping charities and third sector organisations financially through the crisis – by  providing direct financial support for third sector organisations which need help to get through this crisis – by paying their bills and easing cash-flow (Third Sector Resilience Fund);
  • Helping more people volunteer and volunteering services – By supporting third sector organisations in the community who are co-ordinating the massive volunteer response we have seen across Wales; helping them to pay the out of pocket expenses of their volunteers (Voluntary Services Emergency Fund); and
  • Strengthening the essential Third Sector infrastructure – by enabling our funding of Third Sector Support Wales to temporarily increase its own capacity to support the sector, including the development of the Volunteering Wales platform (Third Sector Infrastructure Enabling Fund).

I have also agreed to allow temporarily the purchase or replacement of equipment to support the COVID-19 response through the Community Facilities Programme. This is a capital grant scheme to improve the local facilities which play a very important role in supporting people.

 We know that the third sector is moving quickly to respond to this emergency situation and that a number of trusts and foundations are coming forward offering funding to support this enormous effort.  Through Third Sector Support Wales we established the Funding Wales platform to provide a funding search portal to help charities, community groups or social enterprises find grants and local finance opportunities from local, national and international sources.

This now includes a new coronavirus funding category to bring together funds that are directly supporting the sector in this time of need. We are in a fast moving situation and new funding sources and more detail on existing sources are being released daily. The Funding Wales platform is being updated regularly so that organisations can see in one place as many funding opportunities as possible. As of 3 April, there are 10 different funds focused on COVID-19 listed on Funding Wales, including the Wales Coronavirus Resilience Fund from the Community Foundation Wales, Charities Aid Foundation and Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund. We would encourage trusts and foundations to use Funding Wales to promote their funds to third sector organisations across Wales.

In Wales, unlike other parts of the UK, we have a unified platform to recruit volunteers through Volunteering Wales. This platform provides opportunities for volunteers and a shop window for those seeking to recruit volunteers. Volunteering Wales allows people to register as a volunteer and search for volunteering opportunities in their local area, including COVID-19 specific opportunities. As of 1 April there are over 50 volunteering opportunities listed on Volunteering Wales specifically dedicated to COVID-19 support. We are working across sectors to develop a co-ordinated approach to volunteering that is right for Wales and Welsh communities.

There are over 21,000 people registered on Volunteering Wales, with around 10,000 registrations in March. All of these volunteers have been emailed the specific COVID-19 opportunities. We are encouraging those who wish to volunteer to join a local volunteer organisation and register their interest at Volunteering Wales.

For updates on any or all of the support outlined in this statement please refer to the Welsh Government website Covid-19 pages.

 

Key references

Webpage

Coronavirus (COVID-19) : support for the third sector

Press Release

Volunteers – how to help, thank you, and stay safe

Video Message

Video message from Deputy Minister and Chief Whip

Press Release

Multi-million pound boost to support volunteers and Wales’ most vulnerable

Webpage

How can I volunteer?

Webpage

Volunteering during the coronavirus pandemic

 

 

Good progress on paying coronavirus business grants in Caerphilly

Dawn Bowden AM thanked everyone who is helping to process grant claims and transfer money to businesses in the Caerphilly area.

 

“Caerphilly county borough council has approved £5.5million in emergency coronavirus business grants to date, meaning that as of Monday morning (6th April), 452 local businesses have received the green light for this much needed funding in these unprecedented times.

The first batch of payments, approved at the end of last week, will begin to appear in bank accounts tomorrow. The council is also looking at quicker methods of payment than the existing BACS process in order to get the grants out faster.

To date, the authority has received around 1,700 applications and has processed 26% of the applications received. In total, the council expects to issue £36million in grants to more than 3,000 businesses across the county borough

The £5.5million approved to date equates to 15% of the total anticipated amount, which is in line with the wider national picture across Wales.

Cllr Sean Morgan, Deputy Leader of Council said, “We are aware of the publication of an open letter from a group of local businesses concerned about the perceived delay in processing these grants. I would like to assure the whole business community that we are working 7 days a week to process these grants and our processing rate to date is very much in keeping with the national position.”

“I appreciate that businesses are keen to receive this money as quickly as possible, but we also have a responsibility to ensure due diligence when it comes to issuing public funds.”

“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we try our best to respond to the challenges of this national emergency and I would also like to re-emphasise our full support to the local businesses community.”

The council will continue to process the grants on a daily basis and successful applicants will be notified as soon as their application is approved to explain next steps and payment timelines. We would request that any business that has already submitted an application does not make any follow up calls as we are dealing with a very high volume of enquiries at present”.

Food boxes for people in the constituency

Shielding from the virus 

In Wales the Chief Medical Officer has asked people who are identified as being vulnerable to the virus to stay at home, and shield, for 12 weeks.

For people in this group who are not able to call on help from family members, friends or neighbours while they are shielding, they will receive support, including a free weekly food box.

The Welsh Government has worked very closely with local authorities to get this scheme up and running and the Welsh Government has made £15m available for the direct delivery food scheme.

Food boxes

The food boxes, which people request from their local authority, contain essential foods in packages and tins and will provide food for one person who is shielding for one week. They will be delivered weekly directly to people’s doors. If there are two eligible people shielding in the house, there will be two boxes.

Supermarket deliveries

The Welsh Government has no control over the delivery arrangements of supermarkets. These services are known to be facing a large demand for their services at this time.

The food box delivery service will therefore help ensure a supply of food for those who have no other support available.

 

Caerphilly – for people over 70 people and/or with a underlying health condition with no family / friend support there is a community response team. Their number is 01443 811490. They can help with shopping and getting prescriptions etc as well.

Merthyr Tydfil – if you are named as a person advised to be shielding the Council should contact you directly for a discussion about your needs. For other vulnerable people needing help with prescriptions or shopping then you can contact Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil .( 07580 866547 – please leave a message if no immediate response)