About the current pandemic
Health experts have been saying for many years that a pandemic was statistically overdue. It seems it may be upon us. The World Health Organisation has declared the COVID-19 strain of coronvirus a global pandemic.
This brings with it many challenges, including travel, organising events, turning up to work, working from home potential/possibilities, our staff and volunteers taking ill and/or self-isolating, our service users/clients taking ill and/or self-isolating and the impact that panic buying/stocks of medicines, foods and so on can have on all of us, not just the most vulnerable citizens in our communities. For our sector particularly, our public sector partners are already turning to us to see how we can help them to look after fellow citizens as the impact affects the public sector workforce and the number of clients needing help increases.
Further, there's a growing recognition of the impact all of this negative and worrying news about something that has the potential to affect the global economy, our health and how we will live our day-to-day lives over the next number weeks and months. People are starting to panic and worry, with negative mental health impacts being reported as people are overwhelmed with bad news and information that can be difficult to comprehend, particularly as different countries react differently and some statistics being reported appear to be rather significant and gloomy.
Businesses (mostly retail and travel so far) are seeking financial bailouts/support already. Fewer people shopping (apart from toilet rolls, of course!), dining out, visiting the cinema, taking leisure breaks and so on is going to cost the economy a lot of money, with the result of businesses folding and jobs being lost. This also increases demand on public and third sector services.
Prescription deliveries in Fife for priority and vulnerable patients
FVA has partnered with NHS Fife, the Health and Social Care Partnership and Fife Council to launch a prescription delivery service for those in Fife that are most in need.
We're working with over 80 pharmacies across the region, with volunteer drivers uplifting and delivering prescriptions to those who are the most at risk in the event of a COVID-19 infection. Individuals must be unable to collect their prescriptions themselves and have no on who can collect them on their behalf Please respect this, so that this important service can be kept moving efficiently for those most in need.
Shielding is where a person isolates themselves for a period of at least 12 weeks because they are clinically at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Stringest self-isolation is necessary to minimise all interaction between the vulnerable person and others, and therefore to protect them from the risk of coming into contact with the COVID-19 virus. This isolation also reduces the potential strain on NHS and social care services.
Full information on funding can be found on the NHS website here
The guidance that we have received from Fife Council and NHS Fife on shielding is as follows:
The "shielding" group includes people with diseases and conditions considered to be at very high risk:
solid organ transplant recipients
people with specific cancers:
people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer;
people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment;
people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer;
people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors; and
people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
people with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD;
people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell);
people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection; and
people who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
Those who are in the shielding group will be contacted by letter by the Chief Medical Officer.
Individuals will be offered a phone number through which to register for support using a two way SMS (text) messaging system, with local back-up arrangements for those who cannot communicate by SMS.
Medication for those that are shielding
Medicines can continue to be ordered through the usual routes, but deliveries may take longer than usual to due very high call demands at the present. If you normally collect your own medication and are unable to do so because you are shielding, please contact Fife Voluntary Action's Prescription Delivery Service.
Please do not attempt to over-order your repeat prescriptions.
For other support (food, financial support, etc), please contact our Helping Hand team.
To speak to someone at Fife Council about shiedling, call 0800 952 0330.
Volunteering and Mutual Aid Groups
We're seeing groups emerging across Fife on social media looking to provide support in local communities. This is great and here at FVA we're happy to assist those groups as much as we can. It is worth noting that not all of them will have insurance, policies, risk assessment regimes and proper governance arrangements, so people should be aware of the potential risks.
We would always advise volunteering through established third sector organisations where possible. We know that the vast majority of people getting involved will do good things, safely and appropriately and we don't want to stop any of that, but we also don't want people who are trying to help inadvertently put people at risk, including themselves. We would therefore urge people to consider risks, follow official guidance and put the safety and wellbeing of our more vulnerable citizens at the heart of what they do.
Most of the informal groups will be operating appropriately and will not present any specific risk and here at FVA we're keen to provide whatever assistance we can to help them to operate and manage risk.
Organisations looking for volunteers
As people self-isolate and take precautions to limit the spread of the virus and reduce risk to others, some organisations that are keen to continue to support their clients differently during this time don't have enough people or resources to help. Please use the Helping Hand register above if you'd like to help and we'll be in touch.
Information for Vulnerable People
Vulnerable people, or their families/carers, are likely to be concerned and/or anxious at this time. Keeping people safe and healthy is a fundamental aspect of society and we need to work together to ensure this.
If you are offered help by someone over the next few weeks, then they should have ID if they're working/volunteering for an organisation. If they're not, please stay vigilant and be aware of scammers and people looking to exploit this crisis. Limit access to your home and to any personal information about you. Whilst it's unlikely that people will try to take advantage, we encourage people to be cautious and alert. Here's some brief tips:
• Limit any physical or close contact (we know isolation can be lonely and talking to somebody can seem harmless, but protecting your health is the priority);
• Seek support over the telephone or e-mail wherever possible - contact a voluntary sector organisation that you already know or phone us on 0800 389 6046 or e-mail [email protected];
• Do not wait until things get desperate - make early contact and don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help - organisations and people are keen to help and standing by, ready to do so;
• Only let somebody into your home if you know who they are and it is absolutely necessary for them to come into your home;
• Don't share your personal details, including health conditions with anybody unless you know and trust them;
• Don't share your bank details with anybody - even if they claim to be from your bank!;
• Don't give money to people for testing kits, protective equipment or anything like that - these are likely to be scams;
• Don't be tempted to visit other vulnerable people to help them out, you could be putting yourself and them at risk - please contact us, or use the register above to let us know about people who need support.
For unplanned, impromptu and informal activities, it is not necessary to carry out PVG checks on individuals. It is always necessary to manage risk though!
Regulated work, as defined by the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007, relates to individuals whose 'normal duties' would include:
• doing anything permitted or required in connection with the position, the opportunity to have unsupervised contact with protected adults, and
• where contact with protected adults, when the holder of the position is doing anything permitted or required in connection with the position, is more than incidental.
In situations like this, where there are undeniably unforeseen circumstances, there is no requirement to process PVG/Disclosure checks. This doesn't negate the need for basic principles in safeguarding to be applied. Follow the guidelines listed on this page to keep yourself and others safe.
If you have any questions, as always, don't hesitate to contact us.
In addition, our colleagues at Volunteer Scotland have put together a site dedicated to COVID-19-related volunteering advice (for both organisations and individuals). You can access this here.
In particular, you may wish to consider reading their guidance on PVG and Coronavirus. It is made clear that roles in sectors that are considered priorities during the pandemic will take precedence for PVG checks.
• The Scottish Social Services Council has a useful app to support those who work in adult care to support (non-COVID-19) signs of harm or abuse, with details of how to identify and report such issues.
This is a big topic and we're struggling to find a definitive answer to cover organisations undertaking slightly different tasks. We've spoken to a few specialists in this area and they've said the same thing: Insurers know that these are unprecedented times and organisations changing what they do and how they do it, and doing some additional/different things is almost certainly not going to invalidate insurance cover! What Insurers won't tolerate is a move to additional activities that unduly create wider exposures that could be considered insured under the current business description. Why would using your vehicles to deliver essentials to those in need be any more risk than the actual carriage of people, for example?
Managing risks, documenting things, following good practice and guidance should all be happening anyway, regardless of the circumstances. It is always advisable to contact your Insurer or broker if you are unsure.
•FVA's Capacity Building team has pulled together some very brief guidance on keeping your premises safe and secure while your staff away from them during COVID-19.
The Information Commissioner's Office (the regulator for data protection and GDPR in the UK) has formally announced that they will take a pragmatic approach to enforcement during the pandemic. They recognise that organisations are acting in the public interest and looking to protect people, so will be taking this into account. They have information on their website and you can call their helpline on 0303 123 1113.
We'd advise caution, still, and only share personal data when necessary to provide a service or keep somebody healthy and/or safe. It should be risk assessed, and sensible precautions taken over how you protect information and data about people (not just vulnerable people, but our own staff and volunteers too).
•We've come across this nice resource (PDF file) to help children to understand what's happening, produced by Manuela Molina.
•A new website promoting online safety at home has been launched - ThinkUKnow- providing activity packs to support children, who'll be spending a lot more time online at this time.
•The Scottish Government has developed a hub on its ParentClub website with resources to parents and carers of children through Coronavirus. It covers, among other things:
How to talk to children about COVID-19
Learning at home resources
Guidance on how to balance working from home with caring for children
Advice on breastfeeing if COVID-19-postiive
•Families requiring support through Coronavirus can contact Children 1st's Parentline Scotland helpline free on 08000282233, or through their website
•Education Scotland has produced signposting guidance for teachers, parents, and children and young people from groups who may be more vulnerable during this time of school closures and social isolation.
•Children in Scotland is running a webinar on Supporting disabled or seriously ill children during and beyond the pandemic on Thursday 14 May at 1400.
The session, which is free to access, will look share the findings of initial research conducted by the Family Fund into how the outbreak has affected families raising disabled or seriously ill children in the UK, while also looking at how Family Fund uses feedback from families to inform its work.
•The Children's Parliament has published a report on its April survey on the impact of COVID-19 on children, and has launched a new survey for May.
Many organisations will be facing funding challenges over this period as they pivot their operations towards relief efforts. We'll keep this section with details of any funding news specifically related to the crisis.
Our Capacity Building team can help organisations in applying for funding. Please contact Helen Rorrison for more information.
• New Universal Credit claims will all be done online and ID verification will not be required for payments to begin. ID checks will be done restrospectively once the crisis subsides.
• Disability benefit reassessments and benefit reviews have been suspended for at least the next three months.
• All job centres are closed except to the most vulnerable who cannot access services in any other way. People are encourages to go online or use the phone.
• The Scottish Government has announced that applications for social security benefits that are late directly as a result of COVID-19 shall be allowed (among other measures).
We've had over 2,000 offers of help in Fife alone and, like the rest of Scotland, the number of people offering help has exceeded what is directly needed right now. We're happy for people to continue to register with us, and we will work (as always) with anyone who shows an interest in volunteering to place them appropriately. Please, however, be patient and realistic about what is currently available to be done, and don't be disheartened if we're not in touch to take you up on an offer of help straight away.
12/05/2020 - Connecting Scotland - a new scheme that aims to get the most clincially high risk-people on low incomes online- so that they can access essential services and support, and connect with others- has been launched by the Scottish Government.
12/05/2020 - A National Wellbeing Hub for the health and social care workforce has been launched. The hub is intented to act as a conduit to the wide range of support and wellbeing resources for those in those sectors available in Scotland.
21/05/2020 - The Scottish Government has published its route map for decision-making relaitng to COVID-19. It sets out the anticipated different phases of the crisis and society's emergence from it towards a new normal, with phase 1 set to begin on Thursday 28 May. Movement into further phases will be considered every three weeks, with relaxation of different restrictions coming with each phase.
We're helping Fife's foodbanks to ensure that the people of Fife don't go hungry while self-isolating. Their resources are extremely stretched at the moment, and all donations are very gratefully received as they face unprecendented demand.
•Fife Violence Against Women Partnership has created the following to support those living with domestic abuse, with all the additional difficulties that the current situation adds:
•Fife Council has published guidance on the use of Fife's parks and open spaces during the pandemic. The guidance recognises the need to get fresh air and exercise, but emphasises goog social distancing practice.
•Pink Saltire has launched a survey to identiy the impact of the crisis (and the cancellation of Pride and other events) on LGBT+ groups.
•Daily conference calls are now taking place. Key updates will be posted here.
•Fife Council and Scottish Government have confirmed that already-committed funding for third sector organisations is not at risk. This includes most third sector organisations in Fife receiving funding through Fife Council, most of which is on a 3 year service level agreement. What organisations do, and the numbers of people supported are expected to be impacted by the current pandemic, and there are no plans to penalise organisations so long as they have contingency plans in place, do what they reasonably can in the circumstances and liaise with their link officer.
•NHS Fife has issued a plea for people to order only the medicines that they actually need, to reduce the strain on pharmacy staff. They have reinforced the messages that there are no issues with medicine supply, and there is no need to stockpile.
•Fife Council has published Staying Safe and Keeping Well, with tips and contacts to help during the COVIV-19 lockdown period.
22/05/20 - The Scottish Government has published a framework for making decisions about Scotland's emergence from lockdown.
12/05/20 - A National Wellbeing Hub has been launched for those working in health and social care.
12/05/20 - We've updated our guidance on the Wellbeing and Third Sector Resilience funds.
12/05/20 - The Scottish Government has launched a new programme aimed getting vulnerable people who are not already online using internet services during the COVID-19 repsonse.
04/05/20 - The Scottish Government has decided to pause its volunteer recruitment campaign after registering 76,000 offers of help.
04/05/20 - Children in Scotland is running a webinar on 14 May on Supporting disabled or seriously ill children during and beyond the pandemic
04/05/20 - We've added a guide to hardship grants for individuals struggling with the effects of the current crisis.
04/05/20 - The Children's parliament has shared its report on how Scotland's children are coping during the current crisis, and has launched a new survey for 8-14 years olds to complete.
30/04/20 - We've updated our guide to the funding available to third sector organisations responding to the pandemic.
30/04/20 - We've added links to the National Cyber Security Centre's guidance on the safe use of video conferencing facilities.
27/04/20 - The Scottish Government has publishedA Framework for Decision-Making which sets out its approach to the crisis.
22/04/20 - The National Cyber Security Centre has relaunched its CyberAware website, promoting safe internet use during the COVID-19 lockdown.
22/04/20 - We've added a link to SCVO's guidance on furlough leave that focuses on the third sector.
18/04/20 - Police Scotland has launched a survey on experiences of policing in lockdown.
18/04/20 - Fife Council has issued a plea to people to only order the medicines they really need.
18/04/20 - FVA has published some tips on keeping business premises safe during the COVID-19 crisis.
18/04/20 - The Scottish Government's wellbeing fund for third sector organisations providing support to people through the crisis is accepting expressions of interest until midnight on Sunday.
13/04/20 - We've added a link to the UK government's Business Support website, which has details of support available to organisations and employees.
09/04/20 - The Children's Parliament has launched a survey to identify the impact of COVID-19 on children.
07/04/20 - The Scottish Government has announced that timescales for social security benefits have been relaxed where the claimant can evidence that a delay is due to COVID-19.
07/04/20 - We've provided some additional information on funding for organisations seeking to mitigate the impact of the crisis.
06/04/20 - The UK government has issued new guidance on the use of PPE by health and social care workers.
04/04/20 - We've added a Quick links section to make this page a little easier to navigate.
03/04/20 - Thomson Cooper Accountants has developed a guidance document for charities on the financial reporting issues around Coronavirus.
03/04/20 - We've added some additional information to the section on Funding available to organisations impacted by the pandemic.
03/04/20 - We've added additional information and resources to our section on children and Coronavirus
01/04/20 - Fife Council has published guidance on the use of Fife's parks and open spaces during the pandemic.
01/04/20 - We've added some guidance and links on shielding and what to expect.
01/04/20 - Pink Saltire has launched a survey on the impact of coronavirus on LGBT+ groups.
01/04-20 - ACAS has been running webinars on employment law and the Coronavirus- the next one is due to be held tomorrow.
01/04/20 - OSCR has added a new guidance section to its website that answers a number of questions about charity governance at thei time
28/03/20 - FVA has partnered with NHS Fife, the Health and Social Care Partnership and Fife Council to launch a Prescription delivery service for the most vulnerable patients in Fife.
28/03/20 - Fife's foodbanks have put out an urgent appeal for donations due to unprecedented demand.
27/03/20 - The Scottish Government is offering grants to businesses impacted by the pandemic (administered by Fife Council)
27/03/20 - Volunteer Scotland has published guidance on community volunteers and PVG checks.
27/03/20 - Anderson Strathern solicitors has produced a guidance note on what the Job Retention scheme (Furlough Leave) will mean for employers, while Citizens Advice Scotland has published guidance for furloughed employers.
27/03/20 - A Resilience fund has been launched to support third sector organisations at risk of closing due to the pandemic
27/03/20 - SCVO has created a section on its website dedicated to funding for organisations responding to COVID-19
27/03/20 - Volunteer Scotland has launched a website dedicated to COVID-19-related volunteering, with information for both organisations and individuals.
26/03/20 - We've added some links that will help you to identify COVID-19-based scams and keep yourself protected.
26/03/20 - We've included links to Fife's foodbanks, which are providing a vital service at this time.
26/03/20 - We've added some mental health resources to this page, to help you through this period of self-isolation and social distancing.
24/03/20 - The UK government has asked that benefit claimants apply online for the timebeing.
19/03/20 - launched helping hand register for people to tell us if they want to lend a helping hand in their community, but also for people to tell us if they need a helping hand at this time. We're doing this in partnership with Fife Council.
18/03/20 15:17 - emergency third sector funding is being proposed by UK and Scottish governments, details to follow
18/03/20 15:15 - a UK wide informal volunteering scheme will be launched tomorrow, details to follow
18/03/20 15:00 - FVA has sought reassurance from Fife Council about third sector funding and SLA performance targets
18/03/20 14:00 - FVA is drafting a communication to ministers around ESiF funding and the impact of the crisis on employability services
18/03/20 10:00 - added working from home staff survey, from CIPD, under HR section.
16/03/20 14:00 - published this page with links to reliable sources of information and some draft policies and documents for organisations to consider and learn from.