Help for communities - FAQs

These FAQs contain information like: how to continue to work digitally and safely, varying your current funding obligations and volunteering issues. 

How can we continue to support our members?

The important thing just now is to keep people safe.  Read Guidance, including on social distancing, from the NHS.  this will update and change, as government and health advice changes.

There are other ways you can support your group members, or support your staff and volunteers remotely.   If you haven’t yet given it a go, or want to improve your skills, the following links are for you.    For those that are digitally enabled, WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and Zoom can provide a way of still having that wider contact with friends and family as well as your clients and community. 

If that wouldn’t work for your group, explore whether people would want to share telephone numbers and call each other regularly to reduce social isolation.

This document gives instructions on how to download Skype: this means that you will be able to join Council Skype meetings:

  • As a guest caller – on the phone.  You will have audio only.
  • As a partial Skype participant – if you have a skype account that is linked to an email address that is part of the MS suite  eg Hotmail  - you will get audio and video.  You may be able to see but not share documents.

There are a number of video-conferencing tools that are proving popular and are easy to use. Please be aware that some of them have security issues and we advise that you should:

  • Use a closed chat room and send invites out to those you want to attend.
  • Password protect that chat room and send the password out with the invitation.

 

FOR GROUPS: SCVO have posted information online on how third sector organisations can use digital opportunities to work within the current social distancing guidelines.

FOR INDIVIDUALS: looking for an easy way to get started there is this easy guide from the U3A.

 

A YouTube tutorial on how to create a Facebook group.

A YouTube tutorial on how to create a WhatsApp group and how to make a WhatsApp group call

 

How can I keep my volunteers motivated?

People have been investing their time to help others affected by Covid-19 for some time now and it is important to support and thank volunteers, in a way that suits the individual. Some suggestions include:

  • Send someone a thank you card or message.
  • Rewards and awards.
  • Phone your volunteers to ask about their day and listen to their concerns. Involve them in planning around volunteering. 
  • Publicise the great work they are doing– Facebook posts, tweets, or an article in the local paper.

We’re inundated with offers of help.

One of the strengths of Argyll and Bute is how resilient our communities are and we know that many community organisations are being contacted by people willing to help in any way they can.  If you have more offers of help than you can currently use, why not think about developing a back-up list of volunteers who can be called upon if demand increases or if some of your current volunteers are advised to self-isolate?

Encourage people to think about how they can help and support their immediate connections too – putting plans in place to help and support family and friends who might not be vulnerable but might have to self-isolate is just as important as volunteering with an organisation or group.

Lots of people want to volunteer but they are not PVG registered – what do we do?

Certain volunteering tasks, such as delivering shopping, don’t require volunteers to be PVG registered.  Volunteer Scotland are currently prioritising Disclosure checks “for the volunteers Scotland needs to deal with the coronavirus”. 

A list of the prioritised roles is available on their site – this will be kept up to date to reflect and changes.

Information is also available on the mygov.scot

What can my organisation do to help?

If your organisation has paid staff, you need to balance protecting your staff, with supporting the people who use your service.   Are you in a position to be able to offer support to your members with regular telephone contact rather than face to face? While people are self-isolating having someone call can help to reduce feelings of social isolation.  If you feel that your staff or volunteers would benefit from something more structured than this, emotional wellbeing advice and includes contact numbers for people who need support.

Argyll TSI are also co-ordinating a “Keep in Touch” telephone support service which people can self-refer to by completing a simple online form.

Will our insurance cover us to collect prescriptions and get shopping?

Support for those helping their communities: As a community group, you may already have insurance for your activities, and if you are responding to Covid-19 some of those activities may have changed. It is worth checking whether your existing policy covers your activities in response to Covid-19 with your insurers. If you need an add-on insurance policy to cover Covid-19 activities we can assist with this.  Please contact  communitydevelopment@argyll-bute.gov.uk  for advice.

If you are using your car to support the local voluntary effort, the Association of British insurers has issued this statement: “If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by Covid-19, your cover will not be affected. You do not need to contact your insurer to update your documents or extend your cover. This applies to all categories of NHS Volunteer Responders, including transporting patients, equipment, or other essential supplies.” (from: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/motor-insurance/ )

Do our volunteers require PPE?

We recognise that the safety of volunteers and those they are supporting is paramount. Public Health have developed guidance on volunteering safely, to help ensure that those who are supporting their communities have the information they need to help protect themselves and others.  This includes a range of 1 page guides which volunteers will find useful.

Up to date public health information and guidance can be found here.

I can’t get our accounts inspected/filed in time.

Both OSCR and Companies House haveonline accounts filing systems but they have also made provision for organisations that cannot get their accounts inspected and filed on time.  Companies can apply for a three month filing extension with Companies House. Registered charities will not be penalised by OSCR who have produced a wide range of information and advice around accounting and financial questions that charities may have.

Should We Postpone our AGM?

It may be that by postponing your AGM, you are not fulfilling what it says in your governing document.  The first thing to do is consult your governing document to see what provisions it makes for AGMs (including the timeframe within which these must take place) – both the council’s Community Development Team and Argyll TSI can help you look at your options..

 

THE SCOTTISH CHARITY REGULATOR (OSCR) HAS A LIST OF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON THEIR WEBSITE THAT WILL HELP CHARITIES ON SUBJECTS RELATING TO THEIR OBLIGATIONS AS A CHARITY.