COVID-19: Volunteering and how you can help the community

Could you be a Covid Heath Champion and help our community?

The Council has been working in partnership with the NHS and key local voluntary and community sector organisations to harness the knowledge and skills of local people to respond to Coronavirus and meet the needs of residents during these times. 

While this is an unprecedented time, if you want to offer your help, there are many areas where you can support – for example making contact with people who are isolated, providing practical help with food delivery or by signing up to be a COVID-19 Health Champion.

As a Health Champion You will receive the latest information and advice about COVID-19 and preventative measures to stop its spread to share with family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and the wider community.  The idea is that by so doing you will help to keep your community well-informed so minimising the risk of the virus spreading. See below for details on what is involved in being a Health Champion and how to register.

Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea is continuing to register local people who want to support new and existing local services responding to the pandemic, as well as supporting people self-organise to support each other.

You can register on the Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea website.

While every offer of help is appreciated, community organisations will recruit to the roles they think can best help people deal with the emergency.
Roles that are offered to registered people will be subject to appropriate safeguarding checks by the community organisations recruiting them, to protect both volunteers and the vulnerable people they will be supporting. 

The community organisations will be responsible for training, managing and keeping you safe while you are volunteering with them.

Read about some ways volunteers are offering a helping hand in our community.

Coordination

There are many local neighbourhood groups, some long-established and some recently created, who are focused on making a positive, practical difference where they live during this pandemic. The Volunteer Centre is liaising with them in its role as a promoter of voluntary action and a provider of advice and good practice to anyone who wants to give their time to others, and to the organisations which support them to do so.

Keeping safe

Whether you choose to register your interest in supporting a community organisation, to offer help to your neighbours informally, or both, it's essential that you keep safe and well, and that the safety and wellbeing of others is ensured.
Thank you to all those who have given, and are continuing to give, their time to help others during this unprecedented period.

Help your community and combat the spread of Coronavirus by becoming a Health Champion

What is a Covid-19 Health Champion?

We are looking for as many residents as possible to become Covid-19 Health Champions to help us reduce the spread of Coronavirus by sharing accurate and up to date health advice and guidance with friends, family and neighbours.

We know that many people have unanswered questions and that there have been various myths circulating in the community about Coronavirus. As a Health Champion you will be amongst the first people to find out the latest facts about what is happening with community testing, what care homes are doing to look after their residents, what the vaccination rollout plans will be.

How Covid-19 Health Champions help the community?

What we’d like you to do is disseminate this information to your local community networks. We want you to be a voice for the community, help to allay people’s concerns and ensure people have the facts and helpful information. Whilst we are all waiting for information you can be assured once we have it we will pass it onto you for you to share with your community.

When do Covid-19 Health Champions meet and get briefed?

The Health Champions are briefed every Wednesday at 7pm or Friday at 10am in a virtual meeting. Representatives from the Council’s Public Health department will be involved as well as different health organisations, depending on the topics, including local hospitals, clinical commissioning groups (CCG) and charities.

Register to become a Health Champion

Voluntary and Community Sector support from the Government and Council

There is a range of support available for voluntary and community organisations operating during the Coronavirus pandemic. This includes existing Government support already available as well as local financial support through existing schemes.

The Government has provided advice to charities and the voluntary sector on the GOV.UK website.

Government funding

A £750 million package of support has been announced by Government to support charities across the UK. This provides direct cash grants to frontline charities to ensure they can continue their vital work. Allocations of this fund are determined by government.

Business rates

If you were in receipt of small business rates relief or retail relief on 11 March 2020, you will qualify for a one-off grant from the Government. The Council is in the process of administering the grants and full details are available on the Covid-19: Support for businesses page.

Deferred VAT bills

If you are a UK VAT registered organisation and have a VAT payment due between 20 March and 30 June, you have the option to defer your payment until a later date or pay the due VAT as normal.

HMRC has confirmed that they will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred.

If you do choose to defer your VAT payment as a result of Coronavirus, you must pay the due VAT by 31 March 2021. There are further details on this on the GOV.UK website.

Additionally, a Coronavirus tax helpline for all tax related enquiries has been set up by the Government. Further details on this can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Staff costs

In line with Government guidance, all VCS organisations have the opportunity to furlough their staff. Under this scheme, Government will pay 80 per cent of wages up to a maximum value of £2,500 per person.

Full details on the scheme are available on the GOV.UK website.

Rent

If you currently occupy Council premises, there will be no rent collection from organisations for the three-month period of April to June 2020. Support beyond this period remains under review and any ongoing support will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you currently occupy other premises in the borough and have a private landlord, you are advised to speak to them to see if they have considered any measures to help. The Council does not have direct control in ensuring landlords have a similar approach but is working with landlords across the borough to allow them to offer similar support arrangements for rent. In line with Government guidance, no organisation can be forced to vacate premises as a result of non-payment of rent.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) supports small and medium-sized organisations from any sector with an annual turnover of up to £45 million. The scheme allows access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to six years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This means smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank.

There are 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks. See the British Business Bank website

Full details of the scheme are on the GOV.UK website

Other organisations offering funding

There are a range of other organisations who are offering grants and financial support to charities and voluntary sector organisations. Further details can be found on the Grants Online website.

Further support

We know that many charities and voluntary organisations will have other costs that are not covered by Government support. This may include utility bills, insurances and other overheads. In the first instance, organisations are advised to contact their provider.

If you are a voluntary and community organisation and still experiencing financial hardship, please get in touch to discuss these issues via email: Covid19VCS@rbkc.gov.uk.

Do you provide a service that can support the Council in responding to the Covid-19 crisis?

We know that there are lots of small organisations in the borough offering a range of services in their local communities. In addition to helping you access the financial support that may be available, we also want to hear about the services you can offer to help us to tackle the many challenges that this crisis brings.

If you think you can help and would like to access the funding that is available, please visit the London Community Response Fund website.