With a growing number of cases of COVID-19 declared across the UK, national third sector bodies are issuing new guidance for charities to put health first when making decisions around coronavirus. The Scottish Government has stated that up to 80% of the population could become infected with COVID-19 and that 4% of this group would require hospital treatment. SCVO and NCVO have released an information page to highlight key considerations for charities and organisations impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has said:
“Employers should also assess their remote-working policies, should staff have to work from home or the use of public transport is affected. We have published information on our website which details the symptoms of Covid-19 and how organisations can help to prevent the spread of the virus, and are signposting to official channels such as the NHS Inform and Scottish Government websites for the most up to date information available.”
New guidance includes important measures that charities can take to protect staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. This includes contingency planning, providing accurate information about COVID-19, handwashing facilities, cleaning regimes, updating travel arrangements and management of staff while working from home, self-isolating or ill with the virus.
If your charity is planning events that will bring together large groups of attendees, it is recommended that these plans are kept under review as the UK moves into the next phase of their plan to tackle the spread of COVID-19. This may include social distancing measures which may include restrictions on large public gatherings to help curb community transmission. NCVO have also recommended that charities begin planning for increased contingency costs for the next financial year and to plan for loss of income in the event of serious disruption.
Charities are preparing to support at-risk individuals and vulnerable groups, particularly those with health conditions. COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened or suppressed immune systems, elderly people and people with conditions such as diabetes, HIV, cancer and chronic lung disease. These efforts already include Diabetes UK, Asthma UK, The British Heart Foundation and Terrence Higgins Trust.
Many charities and their voluntary sector umbrella bodies wrote to the Chancellor ahead of the release of the Budget to make sure that charities were included in any economic relief efforts as they continue vital front-line support in the wake of the outbreak.
The advice and guidance for charities may change rapidly due to an escalation of government measures to tackle the virus so keep up to date with the latest developments by using the key resources below:
UK Government – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for the Public
Scottish Government – Coronavirus in Scotland
Institute of Fundraising – Information for Fundraisers about Coronavirus