Civil Society and coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Civil society support

Please note that we will be updating this page regularly.

Supporting civil society organisations

We are aware of concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how this may affect civil society organisations and the people they support. 

Civil society plays a crucial role in supporting London's communities and the work of charities, faith organisations, un-constituted groups and volunteers must be protected during this period of uncertainty. Below, we have provided information on available resources to support civil society through the coronavirus outbreak.

If you are a volunteer looking for ways to safely support London's communities during the coronavirus outbreak, please visit our volunteering page.

Available support for civil society organisations

We are working to ensure we can help you to continue to operate during this difficult time. We are doing this in a number of ways. Please read our FAQ section below for more information on support available.

The Mayor of London has contributed £5m to the London Community Response to help the capital’s community and voluntary organisations. Additional funding from City Bridge Trust, Bloomberg, Trust for London and others, has brought the total fund to £16m.

You can now apply for funding via the button below or read more in our FAQ section.

What can we continue doing/delivering?

NCVO has clear and practical advice for civil society organisations on involving and managing volunteers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Please read NCVO's guidance for more information.

Face-to-face contact

The government has issued guidance that all face-to-face contact should be reduced to what is essential only. As a result, many organisations have already taken steps to stop their face-to-face services and, where possible, move them online.

Examples of what other organisations are doing can be found by following the links below: 

What legal support is available to my organisation?

The Law Works Not-for-Profits programme brokers legal advice to small not-for-profit organisations on a wide range of legal issues, to support the continuation and expansion of their services to people in need. The advice is given for free. Eligible organisations can receive one-off legal advice on intellectual property, employment, property, tax, commercial/contract, insurance, insolvency, data protection, defamation, and company law.  Their volunteers can also advise on amending or updating articles.

What digital support/resources are available now to help us operate?

As well as the Digital Support Form, organisations across London have developed a number of useful resources for civil society organisations moving their services and work online.  

Superhighways have created some useful guides for getting started with Microsoft Teams. Including an introduction to Teams and how to use the chat, calls and meetings functions.  

CAST (Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology) is a charity working to help people use digital for social good.    

They are working hard to support charities to use digital tools to ensure business continuity and provide support to the communities you work with online. They have developed a wide-ranging offer including free consultations and guides:   

Digital Candle: a free 1hr consultation with a digital expert.

Catalyst, a new UK collaborative to massively accelerate UK civil society’s use of digital, have also created and collated various guides to support charities at this time.  They have a range of guides around How to choose the right video calling tool for your charity and then getting started with ZoomGoogle Hangouts and Skype 

Is the Mayor aware of the challenges civil society is facing?

The Mayor is committed to ensuring the needs of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are heard at this time and supported to continue delivering their essential services.    

As a funder The Mayor has signed up to the London Funders statement to stand with the sector in this time of crisis 

On 2 April. the Mayor wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak calling for more support for the voluntary sector during the coronavirus crisis. 

Over the past month, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has carried out intelligence gathering on the impact of Covid-19 with civil society stakeholders who are either grant recipients, commissioned delivery partners, members of GLA Strategic Partnership forums or member of the various civil society networks that support the Mayor’s programmes across London. We have directly spoken to over 150 CSOs. We are also sending a weekly Covid-19 Community Response Survey to almost 200 CSOs who work across London to understand the impact on Covid-19 and associated policy measures on vulnerable populations in the capital. Furthermore, we are also carrying out sector-specific intelligence gathering, such as a survey of environment CSOs. 

Policy teams at the GLA are currently working on a submission to the DCMS inquiry with specific asks informed by our intelligence gathering work, which seek to support and facilitate CSOs who have stepped up to support the most vulnerable Londoners whilst being financially stretched and close to collapse. The submission aims to call for CSOs to be valued for their essential role in our society, giving them the agency and resources they need as we move into recovery.  

My faith community wants to help. How can they connect with others?

Faith communities play a vital role in supporting Londoners in times of need. The GLA is working with a wide range of faith organisations to coordinate support across London, including the London Resilience Faith Sector Panel, London Boroughs Faiths Network and Faiths Forum for London.  

If you would like to find out more please email [email protected]

How can we help those who speak English as a second language?

On our Coronavirus advice and guidance hub you will find a page dedicated to information on Covid-19 for non-UK nationals and our Employments Rights Hub translated guidance 

This page includes information on access to healthcare, visa and immigration advice and the EU settlement scheme.

You will also find links to the World Health Organisation’s own language resources, which are in French, Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Spanish

Doctors of the world are also producing their own language advice about coronavirus for patients in a range of languages.

How can we make sure we’re still GDPR compliant?

Organisations may have concerns about breaching GDPR rules when using volunteer data to coordinate support during the coronavirus outbreak. Follow this advice from DataKind UK:

  • Only store data from volunteers (never of people who need help) and what they can offer. This should be done with a simple GDPR-compliant form
  • Make a centralised part of your group responsible for dealing with incoming requests, this will help manage risk assessment and minimisation. Read this sample risk assessment spreadsheet.
  • Read the ICO's blog about data protection for community groups during coronavirus (COVID-19).

The National Food Service, NCVO and Mutual Aid groups also have information about remaining GDPR compliant during the coronavirus outbreak.

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