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Coronavirus COVID-19 Guidance for Organisations

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Click here to read information on the status of Community Action Norfolk's Services. As well as links to other information and advice
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A number of organisations have shared advice on staff and/or volunteer management in relation to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.  This article summarises some of the best information sources.  Last Updated 27-03-2020.

NHS & Public Health

General advice and information from central government can be found here and from the NHS here.   Public Health England offers specific sector advice and information with additional information about how to self-isolate here.  Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable is avaliable here

Specific Public Health England Guidance for the following sectors:

Health: http://bit.ly/37qkWaV
Transport: http://bit.ly/2HDOFBW and government guidance for transport services will be of special help to community transport associations.
Education: http://bit.ly/38KT41O
Employers: http://bit.ly/2TfwpUT
Social care: http://bit.ly/2VhBIG9

 

Local Updates - General

Toolkit from the Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Groups - Available Here

Norfolk County Council Members Information Pack - 25th March update, superseding 18th March update and 13th March update.

NCC Toolkit for Professionals (poster templates etc) - Available here, additional posters CCG available here 

Information for Parish Councils from Norfolk ALC and National ALC

Safeguarding and scams

Sadly, there are individuals at large taking advantage of others.  If you think you’ve been scammed or become aware of any such incidents, report them to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or Norfolk Trading Standards by calling 0800 223 1133.  If you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 and if you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.  Make sure your colleagues or those in your community are aware of potential scams as telephone and internet scams are prevalent.  

Below is a list of COVID-19 related scams compiled by Norfolk Trading Standards, you can sign up to receive scam alerts here.

  • - Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19).  Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
  • - People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
  • - Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
  • - There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
  • - There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
  • - Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
  • - People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, visit www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk and complete the free online training.

We recommend following your existing safeguarding policies and practices in protecting service users, staff, and volunteers as much as possible although it is likely you will have to adapt how you carry out DBS checks, interviewing and monitoring. If direct contact is required and a new volunteer is involved, for example, consider ensuring two volunteers are present to reduce risk.
 
When visiting someone who is self-isolating, you might suggest they:

  • - ask personal callers where they have come from and provide identification.
  • - avoid inviting people into their home unnecessarily.
  • - only give money to people you know and trust.
  • - not hand over personal information such as bank details.
  • - contact the police if in doubt.

The aim is to ensure that both volunteers and those they are helping are aware of the potential pitfalls and to ensure that people make a logical and informed decision.

DBS Temprorary Changes

Temporary changes to Standard and Enhanced ID checking guidelines have been made as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.  This will enable ID documents to be viewed either via video link or for scanned images to be used in replacement of original documents and verified via video link.  It is important to note that the applicant will be required to present the original versions of these documents when they first attend their employment or volunteering role.  Further information can be found here.  

Organisations who up until now have used paper-based DBS applications are being encouraged to sign-up for the online service.  Momentum and CBR Business Solutions have temporarily waived their set-up fee and are providing additional support for customers wo want to move to the online service.  They are prioritising requests for help to ensure those organisations needing DBS checks as part of their Covid-19 response are supported first.  Further details are available at www.momentumnorfolk.org.uk/what-we-do/dbs-checks/  and www.cbrsolutions.org.uk/services/disclosure-barring-service-dbs/

uCheck have also released information, click here, on how to apply for a COVID-19 Fast-track Barred List Check.

HR and Legal advice

Organisations are now facing significant changes for the foreseeable future.  Below are some tools and guidance to aid coping with workforce and staff changes, such as furloughing (when staff might be asked to stop working for the duration), workplace checklists, job retention and short-time working, along with some helpful letter templates.

  • - Human Resource and Employment specialists Croner have created a free toolkit, with practical and up-to-date guidance on how to manage the impact of coronavirus on your workforce.
  • - NCVO members have unlimited access to Croner’s HR & Employment Law helpline to help get answers to your HR queries and concerns on 0844 561 8133. Quote NCVO scheme number 86544 when you call.
  • ACAS’  information is particularly useful for employers whose staff may need to self-isolate in response to government guidance.  

Specialist advice for Clients and Users

Charities with specialist knowledge and expertise in relation to benefits and housing are producing online resources to support individuals and clients, see below:

  • - Shelter is regularly updating its 'Housing advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)' page with answers to frequently asked questions about eviction, rent payment problems, income and benefits, moving home, mortgage arrears and repossession and landlord access to your home.
  • - The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have set up a 'Benefits and coronavirus' webpage with regular updates on announcements and rule changes regarding benefits and coronavirus.

Data Protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recognises the unprecedented challenges we are all facing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and has published 'Data protection and coronavirus: what you need to know'.

Support from the government

The government has set out a package of temporary measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, for full details click here.  Most of these schemes apply to charities, including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where HMRC will reimburse 80% of wages, up to £2,500 per month.  This applies to employees who have been asked to stop working, but who are being kept on the pay roll, otherwise described as ‘furloughed workers’. Organisations who are concerned about retention of staff during Covid-19 may find the following guidance from CBR Business Solutions, the trading arm of Voluntary Norfolk, helpful - www.cbrsolutions.org.uk/furloughed-workers-some-guidance/ , with further links to other HR advice in subsequent section.
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments.
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).
  • a 12-month extension of Business Rates relief, or ‘Expanded Retail Discount Relief’, for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England, including charitable halls and charity shops.  For full guidance click here
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief. 
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank.
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme for all businesses and self-employed people who are struggling to pay their tax and PAYE.  For more information click here
  • A ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments.  This would apply equally to charities with commercial/business leases. For more information click here
  • The launch of a free to use Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp which aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19).  For more information click here

Existing Funders

Norfolk County Council (NCC) has confirmed that organisations working under existing contracts who adapt their delivery and utilise their resources to support its local resilience approach will continue to be paid as if they had continued service delivery as normal.  

Many grant funders have published supportive statements or messages conveying their flexible approach to current and future grant recipients, including:

  • - A general statement signed by over 150 grant makers including Comic Relief offering reassurance that signatories will be understanding of difficulties encountered by charities, including flexibility on reporting requirements and how funding is used.
  • - A statement from The National Lottery Community Fund which has already started to shift application deadlines for some of their funds that were due to close soon.  
  • Charity Bank which has issued a joint letter with many other social investors to reassure all the organisations they invest in that they will support you and be as flexible as possible in the coming months.

The general message is to get in touch with your funder or social investor if you are in doubt, especially if you think you may need support, flexibility or investment to help you through this difficult time.

Homeworking

A lot more people will be working from home. This has implications for individuals and organisations.

What technology do your staff need to be able to work from home?

Cloud based technologies can be ideal for supporting home working. Microsoft 365 is available to charities at a heavily discounted rate, more information can be found here. Google has a similar offer, details of which can be found here

Charity Digital has a number of articles to help you find the right technology to keep your organisation working and well connected. Information can be found here

How will you keep in contact with your team (volunteers and staff)?

Tools Like Microsoft Teams and Zoom can be helpful for staying in touch. As can WhatsApp group and good old fashioned phone calls. We have an article of video conferencing here

You need to think about wellbeing (the effects of potentially being isolated or home working)?

The NHS has a page of useful information on staying mentally well here 

Norfolk and Waveney Mind also have some information about maintaining your wellbeing and where to find support

The government has released https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19

What policies do you have to cover home working and what changes may be required?

You retain Health and Safety responsibility for people working from home. CAN uses a simple declaration form and provide guidance on risk assessment. For employees to certify their home is safe to work in (yes this does sound silly but it is part of your duty of care), you also should consider the workstation set-up your team are using. The Health and Safety executive have a useful checklist available here

NCVO

NCVO's 'Your Organisation and Coronavirus' has collated advice and information particularly useful for the VCSE sector, covering:

  • What’s the best way to prevent the spread of the virus?
  • What do you need to do to protect staff, volunteers and visitors?
  • Should your employees take sick leave?
  • Should you cancel your events?
  • How can you support your beneficiaries/service users?
  • How you can develop a contingency plan and how will your insurance be impacted?
  • Will there be financial implications?
  • How are charities helping?

 

Other Information

The Charity Commission has updated its guidance to provide clarity. In summary you are not expected to report coronavirus as a serious incident and use normal serious incident reporting guidance. See statement here

Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) has published a useful page outlining the steps they are taking to minimise the spread of the virus in their building, which may be useful in helping you prepare your own action plan. Available here

Small Charities Coalition

https://www.abi.org.uk/news/news-articles/motor-and-home-insurance-commitments/