Written evidence submitted by the National Lottery Community Fund


The National Lottery Community Fund: How COVID-19 is having an immediate impact on the charity sector


We know that many charities and community organisations across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19.

People and communities are responding to this crisis in inspiring and humbling ways. At The National Lottery Community Fund we are privileged to work with so many charities and voluntary organisations who are stepping up to support people in this crisis, and playing a vital role in helping others through a very challenging time.

Whether through volunteering, addressing loneliness and isolation, helping the shielded and elderly or maintaining support for the most vulnerable in society, it is vital that these services are supported to continue.

These charities are facing unprecedented pressures and demand – at a time when the challenges to delivery are multiple, complex and in some cases expose staff to additional risk as they support vulnerable people across the UK

Like most other sectors, the charity and community sector is in unknown territory. However, it is clear that COVID-19 will disrupt usual patterns of community resilience for months and years to come. We have heard a clear and consistent set of pressing issues that need to be addressed immediately. Some of these speak to differences in the demand organisations are trying to meet, others to challenges being faced within the organisations themselves.

We are determined to support the sector we serve and ensure that organisations can continue to provide the care needed by people and communities across the nation in this time of crisis.


The National Lottery Community Fund

1. Key Messages

2. Summary of challenges facing the sector

Demand challenges

Organisational challenges





3. The National Lottery Community Fund’s response

Charities, communityorganisationsand volunteers are finding themselves at the heart of emergency responses to COVID-19 and we are heartened to see the energy and support being deployed across the UK.

We have been listening to ournetwork of grant holders, partners and stakeholders to understand how they are already responding to COVID-19 and what more we can do to support them in the short and longer term.

Our offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all provided insight into the specific problems charities and volunteer organisations are finding in those regions.

The majority of our grant holders are worried about financial liquidity. The National Lottery Community Fund’s toppriority is to keep money flowing to support people, communities and organisations.Following governmentguidance,we have asked our staff to work from home and they are all equipped to do so. Our plan remains to continue to deliver our services to applicants, grant holders and communities across the UK as normally as we can.Sofarwe have been able to do this and continue to make payments to grant holders on schedule.

Many of the organisations we fund are facing increasing challenges as a result of COVID-19. We will support them as far as is possible at this difficult time, but we - alongside our fellow National Lottery distributors recognise, requests for funding will always be greater than the resources available. That is a dynamic that is intensified in the current context.

Our initial support work

We are offering flexibility to our current grant holders to enable them to focus on what is right for their communities, and additional funding to support communities through this crisis. All funding decisions we make for the next six months will prioritise getting funding to groups best placed to support their communities at this vital time, focusing initially on existing grant-holders and applicants.

To find out more about the support needed, in the week beginning 16th March we completed over 60 interviews with existing grant holders, other organisations and individuals from across the voluntary and community sector, as well as colleagues within The National Lottery Community Fund. These interviews tried to capture expertise and intelligence from organisations of different sizes and geographical locations. For a list of interviewees, please see Annex A. Cassie Robinson, Senior Head of our UK Portfolio, shared findings as we went: https://medium.com/the-national-lottery-community-fund.

We also held a special meeting of our Advisory Group on 31st March with 21 individuals from charities and voluntary sector organisations, some of whom we had also interviewed.

We think we have identified some of the activity and organisations most in need of immediate resource. We recognise, that as well as those we have already identified, there will be others will also need immediate resource, and we are committed to reviewing and sharing insights on this as often as we can. We have, started to target organisations where we can channel emergency funds to organisations already well-placed to respond to the immediate needs caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our response has been a result of our decisions and investment over the past few years: in making our funding more responsive so it focuses on what matters to communities rather than top-down inflexible programmes which take longer to shift; and in supporting parts of the sector which are closest to communities.

There is a clear set of beneficiaries who are at high risk in this crisis, especially older people and those in poor physical and mental health. There is also an emerging set of ‘vulnerable’ groups too. These include: people facing domestic and sexual abuse; homeless people; those who have no recourse to public funds or who need asylum support; those at risk of serious debt and destitution; sex workers; gypsy, Roma and traveller people. Specific risks include destitution and poverty, social isolation, racially motivated hate crime, susceptibility to misinformation, fear and panic.

Based on the information we have gathered, our current funding approach prioritises:


Our continuing engagement with the sector

After our initial support work, we began a longer-term process of engagement and gathering learning from our grant holders.

We made a decision to share this share learning in real-time, being responsive, agile, and operating at the pace of the situation. Using our website as a platform for this information we are asking others to comment, challenge and input on what we are publishing to keep the information source practical and useful.

The following details how we will approach each of the specific content areas:

Learning, insight and stories


Horizon scanning and foresight


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We are strongly committed to this agenda. We have long funded and operated in a way that seeks to level the playing field. For example, our funding responds to levels of deprivation in communities, our funding products allow people as well as large charities to access support to address the issues they know count and we have more recently explored how we can support those with lived experience and bring youth voice into our organisation. These are just some of the practical ways that we are operationalising our commitments every day.


Funding in crisis

We are committed to equity and want to ensure we keep this at the forefront of our minds as we make difficult decisions about how best to target resources.

We want to ensure that our Covid-19 response funding is accessible to people from all communities, and those who work, in particular, to support groups who experience disproportionate challenge and difficulty as a result of the crisis. We also want to ensure that our funding is used to reduce inequality and where possible contribute to a more equitable post-viral world.


What we have done so far to incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) into our Covid-19 funding response

Next steps


4. How charities and community groups are responding to the crisis

4.1 Crisis Response

Priorities have changed; getting food and money to people in need has taken precedence. To some organisations, activity beyond that feels like a luxury. One organisation described receiving 300 emails per hour which was making it impossible to do anything other than respond to immediate needs.

Organisations that can provide essentials to households during this period of crisis are facing huge demand and pressure.

There are three parts to this work:

Getting money and food directly to individuals facing sudden, extreme poverty is on many people’s minds. Turn2Us told us that any other work feels in some ways a luxury. A self-employed cab driver facing a 90-day waiting period to access financial support will find him or herself in crippling debt very quickly. There are practical issues around money for people who don’t use online banking; charities are asking how to get money in their pockets. And how can a new breed of local volunteers through mutual aid groups be reimbursed for collecting shopping or prescriptions for people in self-isolation? The reality is many are paying from their own pocket and worrying about it later, but can this last and how do we avoid anyone being exploited?

Welcome to Our Woods is a community partnership in Rhondda, which has worked closely with community youth service partners, including local councillors and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), to provide a coordinated, whole community response. This group has named three individuals to contact if a community member needs urgent support. They’ve distributed the list in the community, with the result of people contacting the named individuals for emergency support, such as fresh food and topping up electricity and gas cards. They’ve also worked with local businesses who’ve had surplus food to distribute via the local food bank. They’ve encouraged other organisations to use their building as needed. They’ve worked with others to identify people who don’t have a phone and are in the process of buying new handsets to lend to people, to be returned and used by the partnership after the pandemic.

In Northern Ireland we heard from the projects funded through one of our large programmes: People and Communities who are at project delivery stage about the issues they are facing.


4.1.1 Advice and Support

Organisations that focus on offering people advice and support on a myriad of existing issues, from homelessness to underlying health conditions, to the wellbeing of workers and workers rights are in huge demand from worried, vulnerable and isolated users.

For example we are hearing from charities that they are innundated with calls, emails, letters and social media posts – while at the same time struggling with volunteers and staff.

MS Society provides emotional support and information to anyone living with MS. Their helpline has been inundated with calls and they’ve received a record number of emails, letters, and messages on social media. They’ve received 400% more contacts compared to the same period last year. Their web pages are experiencing 90% higher than usual traffic, directed primarily at Covid information pages

To cope with the demand, they’ve redeployed staff to take on additional roles within the helpline team. They’re piloting a peer support/ befriending network, initially co-led by staff and a small number of volunteers, to help reduce isolation, loneliness and to provide the information and support needed. They’re looking into ways to provide specialist financial, health, treatment and physical activity support through their helpline. Their self-management sessions and information events have been postponed or moved on to virtual sessions, and they’re working on a suite of online digital self-management tools in the short term, to help people become more informed and resilient.


4.1.2    Finances


Financial liquidity is a major issue.


The two main issues being identified are fears over funding, specifically the need for organisations to secure funding quickly, as well as the lack of capacity to undertake more complicated application processes.


In Scotland one of the most common challenges grant holders are encountering is the cessation of their face-to-face services due to the implementation of social distancing measures resulting in the closure of hubs/centres. Consequently, groups are losing core income and face immediate concerns about being able to pay staff costs and other overheads.


4.1.3 Benefits

A surge in demand has been caused by people losing jobs, or those in the gig economy losing hours and wages, and benefits agencies are supporting urgent claims for benefits. Advice agencies are providing increased services and have moved to delivering services online and via phone.

We’ve heard that people with disabilities are particularly struggling to access benefits. Some people with learning difficulties need someone to manage their account for them as they cannot remember logins or passwords but registering for benefits now requires everything to be done online.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, a community hub that provided a drop-in and advice sessions for the Roma community and refugee and asylum seekers is now telephoning the older members of these communities and providing interpretation over the telephone for those who do not understand new government guidance.


4.1.4 Food

Access to food is a particular issue that we are hearing mentioned a lot, especially in relation to food banks, food parcels and holiday hunger. Food banks are struggling, we hear that many are closing their services due to both supplies and volunteer numbers.

There is creative thinking occurring across the sector, for example we heard of a pub in Clydebank in Scotland adapting to the challenging circumstances by offering free breakfasts for schools, whilst Food Citizenship are exploring food resilience for times of crisis by looking across the country to see how creative responses are, “supporting existing food poverty alleviation initiatives or creating new ones to combat empty supermarket shelves and overburdened food banks.”

Gypsies and Travellers Wales, a small charity, use their connections as a way of delivering food to vulnerable people on traveller sites. Supermarkets won’t deliver to these locations so many people rely on help from the charity. They have stopped their regular activities and are working flexibly responding to calls of help.

Feeding Britain’s Social Supermarket project in Coventry has adapted its services in line with government recommendations. The supermarket is open on Saturdays and Sundays 10-12pm with a one-way system of access and staff wearing PPE. The registration process has been simplified, with beneficiaries needing only to provide names and addresses and applying hand sanitiser before using stationary. Food is now pre-packed, with a small element of choice as recipients are able to pick from a photo card their choice of goods (increasing the accessibility of the project for those where English is not their first language). The project benefited from the closure of local cafes and restaurants, receiving ‘a glut’ of fresh produce, however this has increased their need for more cold storage to house it. In the medium and long term, they have a volunteer connected to the wholesale food industry and are looking to capitalise on the zero waste policies of major suppliers such as Bookers. With the closure of the local foodbank in Foleshill, they anticipate an increase in local need. They have created a pre-order voucher system, where referrers such as schools can supplement free schools. They have already had 60 orders from schools and anticipate using this voucher model beyond the current crisis.

In Wales we are also hearing of a lack of food and volunteers to run food banks across the country. A grantee in Wrexham stated on a local food bank: “They are having huge staffing issues, most of the volunteers are older people, who are now self-isolating or staying at home.  On top of not having the normal volunteer resources, they don't have any of the normal venues open to distribute food parcels from. They are currently doing it from the back of a van around Wrexham.”



4.2 Rapid Digital Transformation

Organisations are having to undergo digital transformation that would ordinarily take months or years in a matter of days. Many are moving their services online and working towards a range of remote working methods which they may be trialling for the first time.

This increased reliance on technology necessitates finding creative ways to tackle the digital divide. Some of the most vulnerable in the community do not have Wi-Fi, access to computers and tech, or the skills to use digital support. This includes those experiencing homelessness who are already facing acute social challenge and are among the most digitally-excluded. Organisations report the need for more tech resource and human resource too, if the most vulnerable are to be reached.

It also means making adaptations for both staff and beneficiaries. The Cheetham Hill Advice Centre in Manchester employs disabled people and refugees who have needed extra support to transition to new ways of working: "these were the staff who needed the most equipment and connectivity provided as they do not have it at home. This has had an impact on how much we have needed to spend to get home working happening and I know that other charities and community groups will be experiencing the same thing. I would go so far as to predict that the more the work is delivered and informed by experts by experience, the greater cost they will have had to incur to keep their work going. So, some of the most richly informed work will be the most financially hit."

In some places there are indications that the move to online is working well for younger users. However, we’re also hearing that children and young people may be disadvantaged by not having their own computers, tablets or phones to enable them to take part in school activities and lessons delivered remotely. The Children’s Society said that in one area in the North East of the country, "One of the main challenges we’ve faced in adapting, is that many of the families we work with are digitally excluded, they do not have access to internet, and Wi-Fi hotspots are now inaccessible e.g. (McDonalds, library). Some others don’t have the right equipment to engage with other options available, e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts etc." They are advocating with housing providers to supply wi-fi, as most social housing doesn't have this as standard.

We hear that many local groups are purchasing phones and tablets for isolated older people in the communities although their efforts are hampered by shortages in less expensive models as well as lack of opportunities to train people to use them. A charity in Cornwall told us they were buying phones and dongles to enable young people with mental health issues to stay connected. For them, this means accepting they’ll need to sort out the contracts further down the line.

Other charities are working to encourage older people to make best use of the tech they already have, like mobile phones and tablets. This chimes with what we’ve learned from our Ageing Better programme where we’ve seen that “older people don’t necessarily want or need computer or digital literacy courses but do value sessions to make the most of their smartphone or tablet.” Others are taking a nuanced approach, that blends both digital and telephone delivery.

Others are taking a nuanced approach, that blends both digital and telephone delivery. b:friend works in South Yorkshire, and has rapidly moved its befriending service online. Volunteers sign up as telephone befrienders or to drop-off essentials to vulnerable older neighbours. All are DBS checked and have committed their support throughout the crisis.  Volunteers have signed up from outside the immediate area, including Glasgow, London, Manchester and Leeds. In just ten days they paired new 48 volunteers with an older person, with more ready to go as their DBS checks are completed. 240 existing volunteers have also switched to phone befriending and dropping off essentials.

Digital solutions also present new challenges for organisations. We’ve heard of:

An important point is that we are seeing the demand for newly online services rapidly outstripping capacity in some areas. In Northern Ireland, demand for digitally delivered counselling and one-to-one support exceeds capacity, even where all staff are still working.

The same is being seen in Wales, where we have heard that demand for some digitally delivered services like counselling and one-to-one support is outstripping capacity, even where all staff are still working. Charities are also anticipating ongoing increased demand for their services as people struggle with the enormity of what is happening and the aftermath.

Digital solutions may not work for everyone, and raise potential new challenges for organisations to tackle, for example:

In Leeds, English4All have moved all their ESOL teaching online, the sessions have been fully booked and they anticipate reaching more people than they would have through classes. We’ve heard that grant holders working with NHS counselling services are seeing rises in frightened callers, and those with concerns about mental health, increases in domestic abuse, increased poverty and its impact on families/children, and disabled organisations will lose earned income. Groups working on the issue of sexual exploitation are also raising concern about a possible rise in online abuse and grooming.

Sahara Advice Centre in Preston works predominantly for the benefit of BME women, dealing with domestic abuse, unemployment and training. Due to demand it has extended its opening hours from Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, to a seven-day helpline open 9am-5pm. This has increased their staff cost by an additional 145.5 hours per week and telephone costs, estimated at £8,400, which we have been able to vary their grant to cover.

Other organisation are looking to use volunteers to explain how to use equipment through online sessions, and we are hearing that there’s a need to support further digital implementation across the sector through funding and expert advice.


4.3 Mental Health and Wellbeing

We can’t underestimate the impact that the crisis will have, and is having, on people’s mental health. We anticipate significant impact both immediately and in the aftermath. People’s worlds are becoming smaller and relationships are coming under pressure, and this brings friction as well as reduced options to self-manage through activities and contacts outside the home.

A particular worry in Northern Ireland is that the country’s baseline for mental ill health and anxiety was high in comparison to other parts of the UK before the onset of the pandemic. Increases in loneliness and isolation will have a further detrimental impact on people and communities.

Mind have flagged two groups they are concerned about in particular: those who will lose their protective factors things like access to food or simple human contact like hugs from their grandchildren; and people who face elevated risk, like loss of employment.

There are also issues specific to those already suffering from mental health issues. HeadStart grant holders are sharing that a ‘trusted place’ and ‘trusted person’ are very difficult to establish whilst many places and people are on lockdown. Home is not a trusted or safe place for many, which makes it more difficult to continue discussions with a trusted person.

One aspect of responding to this is to raise public awareness of the importance of taking care of our mental health. Another will be adapting services to respond to the loss of recreational activities and physical exercise in person these have a significant impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, so alternative ways to deliver these services are needed. Services will also need to be ready to shift focus from not only supporting people to achieve and sustain a balance in their mental health, but to navigate loss too.

Organisations are responding in a number of ways:

A number of organisations suggest that in a few months’ time, additional funding will be required to address the longer-term mental health and economic impacts of the crisis. Funding should be an ongoing conversation as needs are likely to change.



4.4 Supporting the most vulnerable

We see that COVID-19 is fundamentally changing society. The question of who is vulnerable is not necessarily the same as who it was before the crisis. People already known to be vulnerable may be in touch with services who understand their needs and what they want. But those who have never needed support may now need help too.

The challenges of COVID-19, such as the length of time people will be self-isolating and the anxiety the virus brings means that we all will need to adapt, but for some groups such as the elderly, those living alone without support networks and others this will be a very difficult time. There are other region-specific challenges too, one example is that in some parts of Wales, families are still unable to return to their homes or are living in unsafe homes after the flooding earlier in the year.


These newly vulnerable groups may be split in two categories (with some overlap):

  1. People already receiving support but who now need it in a different or enhanced way:
    1. Known victims of domestic abuse
    2. Some elderly people
    3. Pregnant women
    4. Those with existing health conditions
    5. Some young people for whom the home environment is not safe
    6. Families affected by flooding earlier in the year
    7. People with existing mental health conditions, or who are experiencing issues with alcohol or drugs


  1. People who may have never required charitable support before:
    1. New victims of domestic abuse
    2. Families who have lost jobs (especially sole traders)
    3. People who live alone
    4. LGBT+ young people who live at home
    5. Young people online (especially if parents are working at home)
    6. Older people, previously active in the community with good networks
    7. Those who live rurally
    8. People struggling with their mental health who have not before needed support. Including key workers working at this difficult time.
    9. Gypsy, Roma and Travellers communities who are traditionally self-reliant but live in close proximity and may have difficulty accessing food and other services.


At this stage identifying need is somewhat easier than sharing solutions, however we have seen attempts to reach whole communities, for example by deploying additional volunteers on awareness-raising work. Some areas are using their key workers differently for example in Gloucester, police are handing out care packages to sex workers that charity workers can no longer reach. Charities are using their staff and volunteers more creatively. Little Lounge have given one older member of staff who is self-isolating the role of call handler, using her existing skills, supporting the service and keeping her active. Riverside Local Community are using software to map areas that are receiving help and those which will need more support. Information is relayed to the council so communities that need support can get it.

We have learnt that for certain people, especially men, it is the activity that is the attraction or the incentive to “join” and connect with something.  So, it is important to maintain a variety of different ways for people to connect including through telephone, video calls, Skype etc., or even through writing letters. We have also learnt the importance of inter-generational activities and connections and we would stress the need to factor these possibilities in.


4.4.1 Older People

Action for Elders, a charity that works to end older people’s loneliness with physical, mental and social programmes, are building a “phone communication tree” to ensure people stay in touch and don’t get isolated. Standing Together Cymru are contacting current and past participants to offer them 15-minute wellbeing slots per week, and are collecting and sharing phone numbers, with permissions, and organising pairings to create a peer support network amongst the participants.

We’ve learned from Ageing Better, our investment into tackling social isolation among older people, that people aren’t able engage in phone or digital wellbeing activities until their basic needs are met. The needs will be different for each individual and will change during the evolving nature of the crisis. Ageing Better has also taught us that you often need to push the connection even when it is initially rebuffed and that it can take some time for trust to be built. We also know how important it is to keep the door open and to encourage people to stay connected and not to isolate themselves mentally; as well as encouraging staff and volunteers to continue to make the effort to connect with people even if initially rebuffed.

4.4.2    Homelessness

In Wales Cymorth Cymru has suggested that the homelessness sector is facing a huge threat across the UK in terms of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on staffing, organisational sustainability and the people that the sector exists to support. Many chief officers and senior managers are working very long hours to try to simultaneously support clients and keep organisations afloat.



4.5 Volunteers

We’re hearing of the “massive impact” of the loss of volunteers, many of whom are drawn from a cohort of “energetic, committed over-70s” who are now having to self-isolate.

At the same time, we’re seeing huge numbers of people volunteering through mutual aid groups, NHS and Red Cross schemes, and through targeted local call-outs.

Grant holders are mobilising to work collaboratively with others to be part of city- or district-wide initiatives to recruit volunteers to support isolated and vulnerable people. Some have talked to us about redirecting their staff resources to supporting these kind of initiatives as they can’t deliver what they are specifically funded to provide at this time.

Greater numbers of new volunteers, notably younger people, are bringing a diverse range of professional and personal skills, creating new options and opportunities. As many organisations are seeking to move from face-to-face to online forms of support for their service users, volunteers with digital skills become increasingly useful. For example, befriending services working with older people may need support setting up video calling, online shopping, or accessing online forums, support and resources. For example, the Warm and Toasty Club have transferred their ‘memory afternoon’ to Facebook and require volunteers to help people access the live streams.

However, coping with a large influx of new volunteers also raises challenges in inducting, training, supporting and managing them well. Many new volunteers are passionate and committed but may not have the skills, experience or local knowledge to work as effectively as needed. Some Age UK branches have had a massive volunteer response and cannot currently take on new volunteers while they work through the backlog.

Another issue we have been hearing from NCVO is that many volunteers are having to use their own money to purchase food and medicines required by those they are helping, yet there is no systems in place for this to be reimbursed.

Yopey, a dementia befriending charity, provide one example of an intergenerational initiative involving young volunteers. As a response to COVID-19 they have set up a new Facebook group inviting young people to write letters, draw pictures or email photos to isolated residents in care homes.

Coordination and support are an essential part of harnessing this new energy effectively, without these in place problems emerge.

In Bath, a local infrastructure group put out a call and received 900 volunteer offers in four days. But their only paid member of staff is struggling to cope with managing this sudden volume.

Data protection and safeguarding issues are complicated for newly formed groups. Some, like Your Scholes are linking up with more established organisations like Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) to provide DBS checks and support training needs.

Also important is induction for new volunteers, and training in new or unfamiliar skills - for those switching to working in different ways and providing services which are very different from what they are used to. National umbrella organisations like NCVO and SCVO have provided guidance on their websites on how to manage volunteers during the crisis.

Other areas of need that we’ve heard are around increasing supervision and support for volunteers, particularly when they are themselves isolated or have lived experience of the issues they are supporting others with. There is an increasing need for clinical supervision.

Charities also need to find money to cover simple but unbudgeted volunteer expenses for things like phone calls, shopping and other practical support tasks that might otherwise leave them out of pocket.


4.6 Local Infrastructure

Our Advisory Group made a strong call to use existing local infrastructure and networks to identify and support those most in need, rather than setting up new, competing mechanisms. We’ve heard dozens of stories of existing grassroots organisations quickly adapting to the crisis, and many examples of local authorities and VCS infrastructure organisations stepping up to help better coordinate action.

One Walsall is proactively recruiting volunteers to work with local community groups and registering organisations as part a wider support network for the area.


Droitwich Spa CVS have ceased normal activities and are co-ordinating volunteers to get basic needs to vulnerable people. They have set up an emergency phone line and website, working with local pharmacists and foodbanks.


Bromsgrove and Redditch Network have set up Support Redditch, a community-organised network of groups and volunteers and are working with a local Facebook group called Bromsgrove Community Support to offer help.


In Stoke, VAST is partnering with the local authority on driving the city’s response. They have implemented a web-based registration system to coordination new volunteers (500 and growing), alongside a network of hundreds of VCS organisations).


Rushcliffe CVS have stopped their community transport schemes and launched a large volunteer recruitment drive to ensure they can still provide support to vulnerable community members, with food deliveries, and prescriptions.


Newark and Sherwood CVS have created new web content providing information and support along with a section for recruiting new volunteers, including good practice guidance. They have also collated information on local groups and services e.g. shops making deliveries. Supported new groups, like Parish Councils to set up services with information and guidance around volunteering etc.


In Derby a partnership has formed between Community Action Derby, Public Health, City Council and several other organisations including the Covid-19 mutual aid group. It is coordinating local volunteer response to basic needs and voluntary sector support and have established a local helpline.


In order for coordination to be effective, geographical anchor organisations need to have an active membership; be well connected; have expert knowledge of the local area; be enablers not gatekeepers; and align with our values as an organisation. These are often small and specialised organisations with the trust of the community. For example, Canolfan Pentre, a volunteer led community centre in the Rhondda, Wales, have become an emergency contact point for the community, especially those who've been displaced due to floods. They've started to deliver food on behalf of the Rhondda Food bank, they print homework for families who have no access to printers, and loan ICT equipment, especially for displaced families with children.

The Twyn Action Group, a community hub in Twyn, have used their contacts and knowledge of the community to identify people who need support and worked with the council and food banks to ensure they get emergency food provision. They’ve also mobilised expertise in the community to provide advice (mortgages, debt etc) for people in the community. 

The Monkstown Boxing Club in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, changed from a sports and education venue to a community soup kitchen in just 5 days, preparing and distributing up to 90 portions of soup and food packages daily for people who are self-isolating or otherwise vulnerable. Local businesses from coffee shops to chip shops have donated ingredients and containers, enabling the club to increase the number of deliveries.



Annex A: Interviewees

The issues described above were highlighted to us during interviews with the following existing grant holders, and organisations and individuals from across the sector:


Active Communities

Age UK

Derek Bardowell

Cares Family



Citizens Advice

Citizens UK

Connect Hackney

Hilary Cottam

Dot Project




Ruth Ibegbuna

Imandeep Kaur, Impact Hub

Little Village

Mayday Trust

Mental Health Foundation

Migration Exchange

NAVCA, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action


Open Food Network

Refugee Action

Refugee Council

David Robinson


Trussell Trust

Volunteering Matters

With You



We’d also like to acknowledge the dozens of colleagues across The National Lottery Community Fund who continue to share their insights and observations with us.