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MVDA weekly check-in with local VCOs

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Today MVDA held an open check-in meeting for voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) via Zoom.  It was intended to be an exploratory discussion and this note outlines some of the things covered between MVDA and a small number of VCOs who joined the call.  

Some VCOs are not able to deliver their funded programme so are now looking for funders to help with core costs to keep the organisation running until work can resume.

Some organisations are struggling with the uncertainty caused by the Prime Minister’s speech on 10 May: What does it mean for the furlough scheme and what does it mean in terms of a timescale for starting services up?

One organisation spoke about having secured a limited amount of core funding; it is now working out how to restructure to keep services running and protect jobs.

An organisation spoke about all of its income being earned through the provision of training; it urgently need help to transfer to high-quality online training services. Earned income guarantees consistent funding at other times but has left us struggling during the lockdown. MVDA is looking for examples of agencies that support voluntary sector organisations to get more out of the technology that is available.

Middlesbrough College and Teesside University have set up some online learning; we can ask them for help to enable the voluntary and community sector to learn how to do this well.

One organisation said - some of our work has transferred very well onto virtual platforms; frontline support for people in need has been facilitated in partnership with other organisations. We have had funding from the National Emergencies Trust through County Durham Community Foundation.

People working in the sector are concerned that there is inadequate advice about the use of facemasks; there are groups making masks in the Tees Valley and they can teach others how to make them. It was suggested there needs to be an information campaign for the sector on the need to wear facemasks.

Can we share resources? Can we work together? Can we share spaces that are underused or not currently in use to give us room to keep social distancing but still be able to offer access to services safely? Middlesbrough Council holds empty properties that could be used for community good.

What happens to VCOs if there is no funding after the Covid-19 crisis ends or if it takes months to come through?  Some organisations have started conversations with the National Lottery Community Fund.

MVDA is learning from various sources of data, information and intelligence.  There will be gaps in service – which organisations will step in to protect services and how will they be paid?

Today's Zoom meeting felt that building the collective voice is really important; there are some organisations that are big enough to get direct conversations with public bodies but there are hundreds of other organisations - many that are small - that need to be able to influence and inform decision-making.  Under the current circumstances, MVDA's work in representing the sector’s interests looks different and this is something that is to be prioritised over the next couple of weeks. 

We can invite council and health representatives to join particular conversations at the current time.  Some people expressed frustration with conversations they have had with public sector officers that have simply never been actioned.

Concerns were expressed about the needs of people with complex needs being met now and in the future.  Homelessness, the provision of food and other day-to-day support need to be spoken about.  There is evidence of increased alcohol consumption during the lockdown – what can we do to prepare for additional demand for recovery services?

What happens to prevention work now and in the future?  What new challenges are we going to face as a result of the pandemic – what are we doing to identify threats and opportunities going forward?

How can we enable joint/collective working for organisations that want to work together?  Can we look at bulk-buying some good for the sector to bring down prices? Can we identify common challenges (and share solutions)?

People felt the Zoom meeting had been valuable both for the organisation and the person who joined the meeting; it was good to be able to share thoughts and ideas with others who are working in the sector and seek feedback.

MVDA will host regular check-in meetings on Mondays at 11am for VCOs.  Let us know if you would like to be part of these meetings going forward:
Email john.atkinson@mvdauk.org.uk or text 07852 269486 (and in return log-in details for Zoom will be shared with VCOs).  Even if you are unable to join these virtual meetings on a regular basis, or you're unsure when you'll have the space in your diary to participate, get in touch so we can add you to the list and so that you have the log-in details.  

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