Your organisation and coronavirus
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has produced the following guidance for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. This information is intended to help you decide what steps you and your organisation may need to take in light of the spread of the coronavirus (covid-19). This information was last updated on 10 March 2020.
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. This strain, covid-19, is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in January 2020.
What are the symptoms?
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has covid-19 infection:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 coronavirus advice website. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.
What’s the best way to prevent the spread of covid-19?
- Wash your hands often with soap (or soap substitutes) and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after taking public transport. Please see posters at the bottom of this email.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
What do we need to do to protect staff, volunteers and visitors?
- Information: Provide clear information using communication channels including posters and email.
- Handwashing facilities: Handwashing facilities should be available and well supplied. More regular handwashing may require more supplies. Provide hand sanitiser, tissues and cleaning products around your buildings for staff and visitors. Please see posters at the bottom of this email.
- Cleaning regimes: Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours. Frequently clean key areas including keyboards and door handles.
- There is government advice on social care and educational settings you may want to review if they apply to your organisation.
- Support staff working from home: Staff and volunteers may be required to work from home, particularly if impacted by school closures. Consideration should be given to the infrastructure, equipment and processes required to allow staff to work remotely. These considerations include secure, remote access to servers, video conferencing facilities and guidance on home working.
- Manage travel risks: Keep up to date on current travel advice. The Foreign Office has published information and advice on travel safety and the World Health Organisation is providing updated covid-19 travel advice.
- Review travel arrangements. Is travel necessary? Are there possible alternatives such as video conferencing? Maintain updated and clear advice for staff travelling.
- If UK staff or volunteers are working overseas consider what access they have to health care services.
- Ensure emergency contact details are up to date
Should our employees take sick leave?
There is no need for most staff or volunteers to avoid the workplace.
The government has listed high risk areas/countries by category 1 (highest risk areas) and category 2 areas.
- Employees who are symptomless but have returned from category 1 areas within the last 14 days should self-isolate for 14 days from their return.
- Employees who have returned from a category 2 area within the last 14 days and who develop symptoms should self-isolate.
- Employees who are recommended to self-isolate are entitled to sick leave but not necessarily sick pay, though you may well want to provide this anyway as a matter of being a good employer.
If employees are sick with the virus then they would qualify for Statutory Sick Pay subject to meeting eligibility requirements.
Should we cancel our events?
Currently the advice is for most people to continue to go to work, school and other public places.
- If your charity is planning events which will bring together large numbers of people, keep your plans under review. If your events depend on volunteers, be aware that some may prefer to stay home.
- If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM, plan for reduced attendance or the need to move locations and times meetings.
- Refer to your organisation’s governing document to see what it says about remote participation and quorum.
- Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make.
- Further advice on planning formal meetings can be found on the Bates Wells website.
How do we support our beneficiaries/service users?
- Generally, infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. See below for resources from charities for different groups.
- Some of your service users or beneficiaries may be more at risk or highly concerned about the virus.
- You can play a role in providing clear and updated information to raise awareness of prevention measures like handwashing, but at this stage the most important message may simply be one of reassurance.
How do we support members of communities facing discrimination?
- Members of some communities are experiencing acts of racism, discrimination and verbal abuse with the outbreak of the virus.
- Covid-19 does not discriminate and the containment or spread of the virus is not based on ethnicity.
- These communities must feel supported and know that these acts of discrimination should not be tolerated.
- Stop Hate UK are providing anyone experiencing or witnessing such discrimination with a confidential 24-hour third-party reporting service.
How will we develop a contingency plan and how will our insurance be impacted?
- You should think about how your organisation would run if a significant proportion of staff or volunteers were unavailable, or if you had to work from home. Who will make decisions about your operations, how and when? This checklist from Trusted Supplier Zurich Insurance (PDF, 290KB) helps you think through some of the issues and plan for them. The Charities Facility Management Group has more information on how to develop a business continuity plan.
- Every insurance policy will have varying terms and conditions so you should check directly with your insurance company or broker.
- The Association of British Insurers has released a statement regarding the declaration from the government that the coronavirus is a ‘notifiable disease’.
Will there be financial implications?
You and your board may want to consider potential financial impacts of the virus’s spread continuing, and what steps you might need to take.
You may want to budget for increased contingency costs over the next financial year:
- Your income may fall if there is serious disruption.
- You may face increased need for support from people who rely on your organisation.
- You may also face increased costs if the impact on global trade continues.
The Institute of Fundraising has developed guidance for fundraisers in relation to Covid-19.
How will our investments be impacted?
- Stock prices have fallen this week. Many investors will have seen a rise in their portfolio’s valuation over the past year, but this will now be likely to have been wiped out by the recent fall in prices.
- Charities with stocks investments will see a fall in their investment’s valuation.
- This could have an impact if your charity uses its investments to secure borrowing.
- A reduction in stock values could also impact defined liability pension schemes, where the employer guarantees the pension on retirement regardless of what happens to the underlying assets of the scheme. This should be less of an issue provided stocks recover in the medium to long term.
- If covid-19 is a short-term issue, then it is likely that markets will recover and investments will gain the value they lost in the medium term.
How are charities helping to deal with covid-19?
- Diabetes UK has provided an updated information page for people living with diabetes.
- Asthma UK has released a blog post with advice for people with asthma.
- The British Heart Foundation has published guidance for people with health problems.
- The National Eczema Society has offered advice on handwashing techniques for people with eczema and other skin conditions.
- SignHealth has created British Sign Language (BSL) videos to help deaf BSL users either working in charities or receiving support.
- Carers UK has produced recommendations for carers.
- Housing Justice has issued specialised advice to homeless shelters. Glass Door is emphasising the importance of handwashing and has boosted their stock of hand gels kept in their vans that move between shelters. Pathway and Crisis have called on the government for guidance on how best to protect homeless people against coronavirus.
- Full Fact has generated a fact check page on covid-19 to help dispel any false information.
- The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Primary Immunodeficiency UK have issued advice and support.
Key up-to-date information from the government:
- GOV.UK: Guidance for social or community care and residential settings on COVID-19
- GOV.UK: COVID-19 guidance for educational settings
- NHS England: Coronavirus information for health professionals
GOV.UK: Guidance on charities and risk management