The voluntary and community sector (VCS) and the faith sector provide vital support services across London and the UK, now more than ever - but they are under increasing pressure at this difficult time.
Here’s what City Hall is doing to help community and volunteering organisations:
- Investing £5m in the London Communities Response fund, which now stands at over £16m. The first 100 grants for this new emergency support fund have been allocated, awarding civil society organisations from across the capital emergency funding to distribute food and essentials. The second wave of funding is now open for groups to apply for resources to deliver crisis response activities (e.g. food, essentials, equipment) and to deliver their work differently (e.g. switching to digital channels) to meet the needs of communities.
- Signing up to the London Funders statement committing to being flexible for organisations who are receiving GLA funding in these exceptional times. We will work with our grantees to adapt activities if delivery is not possible due to COVID-19.
- Working with the London Strategic Coordination Group and London Food Alliance, a coalition of the capital’s three largest food redistribution charities, to establish community food hubs in every borough. The London Food Alliance partners (FareShare, City Harvest and the Felix Project) are using hubs to coordinate food redistribution and ensure supplies reach frontline charities supporting vulnerable Londoners during COVID-19.
- Using City Hall’s channels and the #LondonTogether campaign to encourage Londoners to support the London Food Alliance partners, food banks, other emergency food aid providers and community organisations helping vulnerable Londoners access food.
City Hall is also lobbying Government:
- For emergency support for the VCS so they can meet increased demand and to ensure the disruption to services for the most vulnerable groups in society is kept to a minimum.
- To make the support available to business, including the £330bn business interruption loan scheme, available to charities.
- To make specific funding available for advice and advocacy services to provide support and guidance on accessing benefits. This includes improving support and enabling it to be fully accessible.
- To improve access to immediate financial support for vulnerable groups and inject funds into the welfare system to reduce the pressure on the VCS and ensure Londoners can afford the cost of essentials.
Are you working for, involved with or dependent on the VCS or food banks? What are the biggest issues you are experiencing?
What more could City Hall or Government do? And what could Londoners do to support?
After the coronavirus crisis is over, what support for VCS, emergency food aid organisations and faith sector will be the most important to rebuild, keep or change?
Tell us in the discussion below.