• Tag: Covid-19

    Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme opens

    The Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme is a £25m Scottish Government funded programme aiming to support charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations that are supporting people and communities through the shift from lockdown to recovery. As well as providing ongoing crisis support, the fund will enable changes that will help organisations to adapt and thrive in a very different social and economic climate. The programme has two main strands: 

    This stream aims to support organisational change. It offers tailored support and funding to develop a plan so that third sector organisations can operate sustainably post-pandemic. 

    This stream supports the delivery of services in communities that were suspended or reduced because of COVID-19, or the creation of services that tackle new challenges presented by the pandemic. 

    You can apply now

    Both strands are now open. The two funds are based around an integrated system so, if required, a request can be made to both programmes using a single application form. 

    COVID-19 Volunteering Update – April 2020

    Since we last updated this website the world has changed in ways that would have been hard to comprehend just a few months ago. Over the past six weeks the landscape of the third sector has shifted significantly in order to respond to the coronavirus crisis in a very immediate way. But people and organisations are now having to prepare for what looks to be a long haul over the next 12-18 months or more.

    The realisation is dawning that we are going to have to learn how to function as a society and create a ‘new normal’, whilst suppressing transmission of COVID-19 and reducing demand on our essential services as much as possible. In this longer-than-usual news story we are sharing some important updates about what we’ve been doing to support local volunteer-involving-organisations and assist with the resilience response across Midlothian. 

    Local resilience response

    Every local authority area has a nominated resilience worker and/or group to coordinate the local response to the coronavirus crisis. Resilience meetings typically include representation from the local authority, the health and social care partnership, the third sector interface (Volunteer Midlothian and Midlothian Voluntary Action) and third or community sector organisations. The main role of resilience groups is to ensure that the local response is well coordinated, effective and that vulnerable groups get the support they need to stay safe and well. Volunteer input is a really important part of this work. In Midlothian, the frontline response in communities is being driven forward by anchor organisations including community councils and development trusts, with support from Midlothian Council. Various other local groups have also sprung up in an effort to ensure that everyone can get shopping, prescriptions and other essential deliveries, plus dog walking where necessary. A key challenge for community groups has been to find a way of formalising the various different volunteer roles they are overseeing, so that both volunteers and service users are safe and well supported. To help with this process we initially developed a set of volunteering guidelines to support local community organisations in the first few weeks of the crisis. We then released a more comprehensive pack consisting of volunteering risk assessment templates, role descriptions and volunteering agreements. 

    Ready Scotland


    We have been amazed at the groundswell of support from local people wanting help out in their communities. The Scotland Cares campaign was launched at the beginning of April, with would-be volunteers encouraged to register for three different types of roles, either through the Red Cross, the NHS or in their own local community. Two weeks after the launch we were sent the details of over 500 people in a spreadsheet, who we subsequently surveyed in order to find out more about what they might be able to offer as volunteers. It has been fantastic to see people offering their time in such numbers to help out in whatever way they can. We are currently working through the responses to try and match groups of volunteers with suitable opportunities. We are also keeping in touch with those who registered to provide relevant updates and training opportunities while people wait to be contacted by local organisations. You may be interested to know that NHS Lothian had over 600 people apply for roles over the course of a few days in mid-March. From this initial response 300 people went on to volunteer, mainly as ward helpers. NHS Lothian has recently recruited a second cohort of volunteers who hope to give their time in hospital and other community settings for the duration of the epidemic. Phenomenal! Well done to all those involved – we are SO GRATEFUL to everyone who has offered to volunteer thus far. 

    Development of volunteer roles 

    Normally at Volunteer Midlothian we provide direct face-to-face support to around 20 people a month to help them get started in volunteering roles. This figure doesn’t include contact with people via our website, special projects, or at events, meetings and recruitment fairs. We usually have around 160 opportunities on offer for people to choose from. Of course, not every opportunity is suitable for every volunteer, but we are normally able to find a role that suits the person and vice versa. Imagine, then, having over 500 people wanting to volunteer in the space of three weeks! As a result of this unprecedented increase in numbers, organisations in Midlothian have been having to think and act quickly in order to create new roles in response to the needs being identified in local communities. It takes time to develop volunteering activities properly and safely, but six weeks on we are seeing new roles beginning to emerge. In addition to resilience work in local communities, other activities are now coming to the fore, particularly those involving telephone or online support that could broadly be described as ‘befriending’. Other more diverse roles will likely emerge, for example provision of group based support via Zoom, online counselling, or more widespread virtual play sessions for children and families during periods of strict lockdown. We may also at some point see the emergence of in-person volunteering activities at a safe distance outdoors, for example distanced gardening. Potential volunteers will be able to search for COVID-19 related roles via our website search function once they become more widely available. Do get in touch if you’ve got ideas for how to involve volunteers, or if there are roles that you’d like to advertise in the coming weeks and months. 

    Midlothian TSI activities

    As part of the Third Sector Interface (TSI) we play an important part in supporting the development of best practice related to volunteering across the third sector in Midlothian. In recent weeks we have been helping our partner organisations in various ways, two of which we want to share with you now in case you want to sign up or get involved. First and foremost are our regular TSI bulletins containing sector-specific info and advice, official guidance about COVID-19, links to useful new resources and notification of funding opportunities. If you want to be included on the bulletin mailing list please email Lesley. We have also been holding weekly ‘Coronavirus Connect’ online drop-in sessions that are open to any member of staff from the third sector in Midlothian. Sessions consist of information sharing, discussion about best practice and peer support between colleagues. Feedback has been really positive so far, with improved awareness of local resilience activity among participants and increased connectedness across organisations. Invitations to the drop-in session are sent out each week. If you’d like to get involved, email Miriam for further information. 

    That’s all for now, so thanks for reading. We’ve shared a lot more information than we usually would in this news story but we wanted to give you a really thorough update because such a lot has happened over the last few weeks. Stay safe and well folks!

    Updated about the Coronavirus response in Midlothian: How to get involved

    There has been a phenomenal response from people in Midlothian to the coronavirus crisis (we don’t have exact figures but probably in excess of 500 new volunteers in Midlothian at this point in time), and we are seeing some excellent local volunteering projects springing up to tackle the unique challenges that this situation presents. Volunteer Midlothian is here to support these developments and will provide advice and guidance wherever possible so that people have the knowledge, skills and resources needed to implement projects safely and effectively

    At present there are enough volunteers to meet the demand for extra support in Midlothian, although it’s likely that this will change as more people contract COVID-19. Please be aware that there has been a groundswell of volunteers in the last few weeks and that as a result of this highly unprecedented situation, it is taking time to set up the infrastructure for volunteering in communities. If you can remain on stand-by to volunteer at a later date, it is likely that you will be contacted by us or another local agency.

    • If you are an ex-health and social care worker or health professional, there is the option of rejoining the workforce. Information about this and about volunteering more generally as part of the coronavirus response can now be found on the Ready Scotland website. If you go to this website and fill in your details, you will be redirected to the NHS or Red Cross, or your information will be passed back to us, the Third Sector Interface.
    • Our role will be to help pass on the details of potential volunteers to local community initiatives in Midlothian. We are currently looking at how best to do this in partnership with Midlothian Council, Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership and local neighbourhood groups including community councils and development trusts. 

    We are aware that many people are already volunteering informally in their local communities already and this is fantastic. There is more than one route into volunteering. One of the best things that people can do at the moment, though, is to check on their immediate neighbours – particularly those that are vulnerable – to ensure that they have all the essentials they need in order to self-isolate.  Minimising your own social contact outside of the home environment and implementing social isolation is part of the national effort that we are all making to flatten the curve and reduce the impact of coronavirus on our essential services, including but not only the NHS. We will continue to update our website with relevant links and documents as and when we have them ready, so please continue to watch this space. In the meantime please tag all of your amazing activities as part of Midlothian Council’s campaign for the coronavirus community response on Twitter – #KindnessMidlothian

    Thank you – please stay safe and well folks! 

    Cornavirus emergency response in Midlothian

    There has been a huge response from local communities in Midlothian wanting to help with the coronavirus response. To ensure that volunteers and the community are adequately supported, and so that efforts are properly coordinated, Midlothian Council are currently gathering details of everyone who is organising support in their local area. We are helping with this process and are liaising with other key organisations including the Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, as well as our Third Sector partners, to put together a set of good practice guidelines for volunteering activities related to COVID-19. The guidelines will include some important questions to consider when developing volunteer activities in the community, and will be circulated widely once finalised. 

    If you are a coordinator in your area please email CLL@midlothian.gov.uk as soon as possible to let Midlothian Council know what you are doing. Please also ensure that you provide a main contact name and telephone number so that advice and information can be effectively shared and so we can ensure support is properly targeted. 

    In the meantime, Volunteer Midlothian will be taking the details of anyone who contacts us wanting to volunteer and will be helping to connect people up in due course, once we have a clearer picture of where volunteers are most needed. MVA, Volunteer Midlothian and SEAM (Midlothian Third Sector Interface) have arranged for most staff to work from home in line with the latest government guidance for social distancing. We will, however, continue to cover emergency planning meetings and feed back to the sector through emails, website updates and social media. 

    We will pick up our emails and messages regularly so please keep in touch. No decision has been made as yet to postpone or cancel events related to Volunteers Week 2020, including the volunteer awards ceremony. This is being kept under review and we will let you know if plans change. Please take care and get in touch if there is anything you think we can help with, or if you have any specific questions related to volunteering in the coming weeks and months.