Effective Governance During Periods of Unprecedented Change
Trustees remain fully accountable for the charity they govern, its staff, volunteers and beneficiaries through a time of crisis. At a time when the executive team need to be free to focus on operational matters, support from the board matters more than ever.
GatenbySanderson has pulled together a seven-point checklist of the key issues trustees should consider to ensure they offer the best support to their organisation.
Seven issues for trustees to consider
With many people wanting to reach out and help others, charities must ensure they safeguard their beneficiaries, volunteers and staff. This non-negotiable is especially relevant for those directly helping communities or vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating. Check your safeguarding policy and procedures are up to date and remind all staff and volunteers of their responsibilities.
2. Safety and welfare of staff
All staff but particularly those serving on the front line in community care, residential, health and education settings. Trustees should be reassured during the acute phase of this pandemic that everything possible is in place to ensure staff and those they serve are physically safe. This will most likely include changes to patterns of staff deployment to ensure continuation of service. In addition to physical safety, mental health will be an important consideration during this time.
3. Review your Business Continuity Plan
Identify potential risks that Coronavirus might present, complete with a response to manage them. Assign authority to staff or individual trustees to make tactical decisions quickly and clarify who will step in to take decisions should the Chair fall ill.
It’s a cruel irony, that at a time when the NHS needs to keep as many people out of hospitals as possible, charities that offer non-critical care are seeing their income streams slashed by up to 48%. The government has said that charities will get support to help pay staff, but while welcome, this help will only go so far to keep services open.
Trustees should consider what immediate action needs to be taken to manage finances, considering that cash flow is likely to be shorter and contingency costs higher. Check the government’s latest advice on the use of reserves and restricted funds to help a charity get through a crisis.
Review whether the organisation needs to speak to funders about the impact of cancelling, delaying project activities or even in re-purposing funds.
5. Refocus efforts and activities in line with your charitable purpose
Identify which of your essential operations and services are most in demand and prioritise these. Could you partner with other organisations to continue to deliver services or offer new forms of support?
Organisations and individuals have a limited capacity, needs are fast changing and the risk of staff absence due to self-isolation or sickness is high. It’s as important to decided what you won’t be doing while the UK is in the acute phase.
The Board of trustees should be a calming influence during a crisis. More than ever employees, volunteers and beneficiaries will look to the board for reassurance. Most people feel overloaded with information right now and need short, clear, and concise updates. Don’t forget to communicate your thanks to all stakeholders for their ongoing support and hard work.
Remember that your fellow trustees themselves may be managing a busy day job alongside their Board commitments, as well as their own health and family concerns. It will be important to balance the need for swift and effective crisis management and communication with the understanding that trustees may be supporting more than one organisation to respond to COVID-19.
7. Keep the mechanics of governance turning
Right now, some filing and auditing duties may feel lower priority, but this phase will pass, and in time regulators will request documentation. Try to keep on top of these requirements albeit with a lighter touch. The Charity SORP has issued updated guidance about what and how to report accounts and finances.
While physical meetings are forbidden, if your charity is required to hold an AGM at a specific time, or to reach what might be an unachievable quorum, notify the Charity Commission in advance.
Finally, in this brave new world of virtual Board meetings do check the Charity Commission’s rules (CC48) for remote meetings to ensure you remain compliant.
Corona virus job retention scheme – What we know and understand so far
Where home working is not possible, employers can lay off employees subject to the Furlough Scheme announced on 20 March 2020
The aim is to get the scheme up and running before the end of April
Employers will be able to apply for a grant to cover the Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions on paying the lower of 80% of regular salary or £2,500 per month
For individuals on zero hours contracts or flexible contracts the 80% is based on the higher of (i) the earnings in the same pay period in the previous year; or (ii) the average earnings in the previous 12 months (or less, if they’ve worked for less). We are unsure how the 80% will be calculated but would expect it to be based on their basic pay
Employees taken on after 1 March 2020 are excluded from the scheme
Businesses can re-employ people who have been made redundant since 1st March, and then furlough them
To qualify for the payment, an employee must be furloughed for a minimum of three weeks. They can then come off furlough. This means that employers cannot rotate staff weekly between furlough and non-furlough
Furloughed employees can do volunteering or training, providing it does not generate any money for their employer and they are not providing a service to their employer.
How it works
The government has published a short overview for employers and a separate overview for employees, and we are expecting more information imminently
Whilst detailed guidance is needed, the position appears to be as follows:
The scheme is available to all UK employers
It requires “Furloughing” designated employees who would otherwise have been laid off or made redundant
Furloughed staff are those workers who are kept on the payroll instead of being dismissed as redundant, or being placed on unpaid leave
HMRC will reimburse 80% of Furlough’s workers wage costs, capped at £2,500 per month
It is unclear whether or not the figure is gross or net (the expectation is that it is gross) and it appears to include “all” employment costs”, which could include employer’s NI
It may therefore be that if an employer wants to pass on to its staff, only the amount of the wage subsidy, it will be less than £2,500 gross per month
There is nothing to stop employers choosing to pay at a higher rate than the reimbursed figures
Employers will have to agree with staff (in most cases) who will be furloughed and once that is done submit information to HMRC about those employees and their earning through a new online portal – which is yet to be set up
Whilst the employer is likely to be required to pay Employer’s National Insurance contributions for furloughed staff, whether or not contractual benefits would also apply to them will be a matter of negotiation between the employer and the employee
Vulnerable people forced to self-isolate due to the coronavirus pandemic will be offered a helping hand, thanks to a new voluntary initiative in Swindon.
Swindon Borough Council has teamed up with Voluntary Action Swindon and the Volunteer Centre Swindon to help pair volunteers with those who have no one to help them during the current public health emergency.
Members of the community who want to help those who are self-isolating, who do not have their own support networks, can now log their offers of support with Voluntary Action Swindon, who will work with the Council to pair them up with those most in need. This could involve speaking to someone over the phone to offer some companionship or collecting shopping for those who are staying at home.
Pam Webb, CEO of Voluntary Action Swindon, said: “If you are someone who is self- isolating or in need of non-medical assistance as a result of coronavirus, we would recommend in the first instance that you reach out to family members, neighbours and friends that you know personally. But we are very aware that there will be people in our local community for whom this is not possible.
“These are the people we hope to help through our ‘Compassionate Swindon’ initiative. We also want to try and help the many charities and care services continue to thrive who are also experiencing staff and volunteer shortages due to current containment protocols.
“As usual in difficult times the community spirit shines through and all three of the organisations in this partnership have been contacted by people wanting to volunteer. We want to make sure that this fantastic community spirit is harnessed in the best way to keep both volunteers and those being helped safe.”
People who wish to support others should visit www.vas-swindon.org to complete a simple online form indicating how they are willing to help. The team at the Council’s Live Well hub will be helping to match all volunteers with those in need.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “The Live Well Hub in Swindon works all year round handling referrals and giving people access to opportunities and services which can help improve their health and wellbeing.
“We are therefore very well placed to step up our current service in these difficult times to help people in our local community who are feeling more vulnerable. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Voluntary Action Swindon and the Volunteer Centre Swindon to harness the goodwill of the people of Swindon to provide help where it is needed.
“Anyone in the Swindon community needing some non-medical help can call the Council’s team on 01793 465513 or email email@example.com so they can be put in touch with residents willing to help.”
Sarah Troughton, HM Lord- Lieutenant of Wiltshire, said: “I am very pleased to back this initiative from Swindon Borough Council and Voluntary Action Swindon. It is a sensible and practical way of helping each other at this tricky time in different ways. We are only at the start of the three or four-month period of isolation and patience and goodwill is going to be required as much as anything. The Swindon community will be trailblazers.”
Sue Dunmore, CEO of the Volunteer Centre Swindon states: “The Volunteer Centre Swindon works hard to match people interested in volunteering with suitable opportunities and to ensure volunteering best practice is applied. We are delighted to be part of this partnership.”
Coronavirus Joint Statement from Sanford House Voluntary Sector organisations
Coronavirus Joint Statement from Sanford House Voluntary Sector organisations
These are unprecedented times with our communities facing serious challenges. Organisations based at Sanford House in Swindon want to support all the people we work with as best we can. We are working in partnership to share updates and reach and support as many people as we can across Swindon.
If you think you can offer support to people in your local community please visit Voluntary Action Swindon’s website where you can access information about how this can be done via the Compassionate Swindon appeal. Thank you.
Claire Newport, CEO, Citizens Advice Swindon
Susanna Jones, CEO, Swindon Carers Centre
Hazel Howe, CEO, Swindon and Gloucestershire Mind
Dawn Dixon, CEO, Swindon Advocacy Movement
Pam Webb, CEO, Voluntary Action Swindon
Carol Willis, Manager, Healthwatch Swindon
Linda Scott, Service Manager, Royal Voluntary Service
Richard Hazell, Senior Housing Solicitor, Wiltshire Law Centre
Marco Van-Tintelen, Services Manager, Alzheimer’s Society
The Wiltshire Community Foundation has launched a Coronavirus Response Fund to help voluntary groups across the county deal with effects of the pandemic.
– 9.30-1.30 (4 hrs) every Saturday morning to run the youth magazine session.
– 2 hours flexible every week development and coordination work.
– With potential for the hours to increase as the project grows and more funding is secured.
Hourly Rate: £15ph @ 6hrs pw = £90 per week (initially) fixed term contract to 31st Dec 2020
Salary: £4,680pa actual annual pay / equivalent to £29,000 FTE
Reporting To: The Managing Director
The Platform Project is a not-for-profit organisation that strives to create a generation of young entrepreneurs by helping young people thrive through experiencing young enterprise as an everyday way of life.
They are looking for an awesome youth worker to join our team and manage our innovative #iDare Youth Issues Magazine project.
The #iDare youth issues magazine is a ground-breaking youth led social enterprise that gives young people a voice in Swindon and beyond. It has been running for 12 months and currently has a team of around 15 young people attending every Saturday morning. The magazine is run entirely by the youth team, with them deciding what gets written about, who they want to interview, writing the content, managing the social media and marketing, and managing the blog based website. Due to the project growth, the team now needs someone to take over from the MD to ‘manage’ the Saturday sessions and coordinate the development activities for the project. The role will cover 2 main functions:
1) ‘Managing’ the weekly Saturday morning sessions
• Liaise with and coordinate cover the 4-6 volunteers who help support the youth team during the Saturday sessions, ensuring there are enough people to support the team each week.
• Set up and pack down each session, ensuring that access to the building can be gained 30 minutes before the session start time (10.00am) and clear everything away after the session finishes (13.00pm) so that the facility can be used for other youth projects afterwards.
• Assist the youth team to manage the sessions, coordinate activity, and allocate volunteers to meet participants needs and interests, ensuring that the team are able to balance fun and productivity and achieve their end of month publishing goal.
• Hold a short end of session debrief with all volunteers to discuss and record any questions, needs and safeguarding concerns (full training will be given).
• Report any safeguarding concerns to the main Youth Worker.
• Support the youth team participants where necessary to complete their magazine content.
2) Project Coordination & Development
• Follow up on content related actions, such as finding people the team want to interview and making arrangements to come in via email, checking on the progress of content for the months publication, and uploading videos to YouTube etc.
• At the end of the month, double check the content produced for corrections, brand consistency and referencing etc (the team usually complete their content to 90% completeness) and upload everything to the online publisher and website blog (full training provided).
• Seek and secure company contacts for potential advertising and sponsorship to help the project earn a low level of income and cover its running costs.
• This project has significant potential to grow and we are looking for someone who would like to take the lead and manage it as a ‘company’ in its own right, taking it to schools as an alternative curriculum service and a community outreach programme, so someone who has a vision for using experience based learning to develop young people and wants to carve an innovative career whilst growing with the project would be ideal.
Self-Employed Experienced Autism Support Worker to work in a residential home
Who are they?
They are an Asian, Sikh family who has a son of the age of 21 who is on the autistic spectrum. They are looking for experienced autism support worker to provide personal care and practical support. They are looking for an individual who is conscientious and committed to delivering a high quality, person centred care and support service.
Preferably male supporter who holds a full driving licence.
Due to the setting being residential, we expect the support worker to maintain Dhaliwal family’s confidentiality at all times.
Subject to experience and commitment, this role can lead to a full time or part time permanent role.
Working Hours: Flexible days Hours: Commencing at 16 hours per week Salary: 25 years old and over – £20.00 / 21 to 24 years old – £15.00 Location: Swindon SN5
This position will be reviewed after a 6-month probation period.
• Build and maintain an excellent relationship with the service user
• Supporting service user whilst ensuring dignity and independence is maintained
• Help establish a routine for service user to follow
• Ability to take the service user to social events and encourage participation
• Encouraging activity participation and practical skills with service user
• Washing and putting service user to bed, support in managing hygiene
• Assisting in self care
• Making sure to report back to the appropriate family member as and when required with updates on service user.
• Adheres to Safeguarding requirements and protection of vulnerable adults
• Applicant is knowledgeable in autism
• Have compassion to work with autism clients
• Have the ability to understand the service user and family
• Requires having good patience and tolerance skills
• Good listener and communicator
• Knowledge on the Sikh culture
• Punjabi Speaking Language
• Some relevant experience and education background
Please send a copy of your CV and covering letter to Charanjit Dhaliwal firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, if you do not hear from them within 28 days, due to a high demand of applications, they are unable to respond to everyone.
General Administration Assistant at Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM)
Fixed 6 month contract
15 hours per week Tuesday and Thursdays. £9.00 per hour.
Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM) has a well established reputation of providing a range of advocacy services for people with care and support needs in Swindon. They are passionate about speaking out for the most vulnerable in our society and have created a flexible and responsive advocacy service enabling people to access their rights within health and social care services.
They are now looking for a General Administration Assistant to provide support for their advocacy teams on a day to day basis. The work will include answering the telephone, administration of emails, taking minutes, preparing information packs, booking meeting rooms, filing and typing.
Do you have experience of working in a busy office, ideally for a charity?
Do you enjoy working as part of a team?
Have you a high level of administrative experience?
If you are interested in this varied and flexible part time role then email them at email@example.com for their application pack. If you have any questions please ring 01793 542575 and ask for the Advocacy Manager, Rachel Hill.
Closing date for applications midday Friday 21st February
Interviews being held on Tuesday 25th February
Swindon Advocacy Movement is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and adults. Swindon Advocacy Movement expects all staff and volunteers to share that commitment. All posts are subject to Enhanced DBS check.
Swindon Advocacy Movement is an Equal Opportunities employer and welcomes applications from anyone regardless of disability, race, religion or sexual orientation.