BEST COVID-19 RESPONSE IN CHARITIES OR NOT FOR PROFITS
Action For Kids – Working with Disability
The pandemic has been a massive crisis for disabled children, young people and their families. Their physical and mental health, employment opportunities and skills have been negatively impacted and financial hardship, always an issue, has been exacerbated.
Everyone at Action For Kids knew it was vital to keep supporting our service users, beneficiaries and those around them, so we acted quickly by changing what we delivered and how we delivered it. We continued to provide all our services, and more, right through all lockdowns. When face-to-face training wasn’t possible, we moved absolutely everything online. We provided equipment, digital training and support, added mental and physical wellbeing services and social activities to our portfolio, advocated for disabled peoples’ rights and developed a care package programme and hardship fund. We listened to what our community told us they needed and what was important during this period and responded.
Erskine – Erskine Reid Macewen Activities Centre
The Erskine Reid Macewen Activities Centre is a service provided for veterans, their spouses and carers, based in Renfrewshire, Scotland. The Centre provides a ‘safe space’ for ex-Service men and women to take part in meaningful activity, with like-minded people. The Centre closed its doors in March 2020 and, overnight, moved the service online. A huge operation took place behind the scenes to get each and every veteran the support they required. The team worked tirelessly to ensure each and every member was able to engage either through Zoom calls, one-to-one therapy sessions or regular phone calls. Twice weekly phone calls were arranged for those deemed most vulnerable. Over a year of remote service followed, including much needed entertainment, socialising and the infamous military banter. For a team of just 6 staff members, they not only put support in place for their 113 members, but offered support services to the wider charity of 800 employees. The commitment to the wellbeing of the veterans never faded, and staff have gone above and beyond to ensure a safe and seamless transition back to onsite delivery. The response of the Centre and its incredible staff, has been nothing short of heroic.
LGfL – Our Multi Layered Response to Supporting Schools during Covid-19
LGfL provides broadband and online services to 3,000+ schools across England, including safe and secure internet access, high quality curriculum content, professional development for teaching and technical staff, and network security. When Covid-19 hit we were uniquely positioned to support teachers, learners, technicians and managers in our schools to meet the challenges it presented by: providing fast, secure, reliable internet connections, supporting the move from face to face to remote learning, giving teachers the skills necessary to work online and providing low cost devices so schools could narrow the digital divide. Through leading the Dfe EdTech Demonstrator programme and opening up our CPD offer we provided key support for teachers. By opening up our curriculum resource portfolio we provided materials for remote learning, and by creating the Bridge the Divide procurement initiative we got devices into the hands of those who needed them most. All this alongside providing the fast, secure, reliable broadband network that is core to teaching and learning online. Without our help and support the picture for our schools, and the outcomes for their learners, would have been very different.
Macular Society – Beating Macular Disease
We’ve all now experienced isolation as Covid led to lockdowns across the world, but imagine a lockdown where day by day you’re also losing your sight. Macular disease is the most common form of sight loss in the developed world. Caused by age and genetics there’s no cure and most people affected are over 65 years old. Advancing age leads to health and mobility issues, throw sight loss into the mix and independence is quickly lost; the emotional impact is devastating. Being diagnosed with macular disease and realising you’re going blind leaves you reeling from shock and fearful for your future. Talking to others who are affected can change that, where you discover life is not over and you can manage many things despite sight loss. Our network of 430 support groups located throughout the UK provides just that, regular peer support for people in their local communities. Bringing people together who really understand what it’s like to lose your sight and share ways of coping. Covid abruptly stopped groups meeting, cutting off people’s support network, their purpose and routine, leaving them facing sight loss alone. We rapidly found a way to keep people connected to groups without leaving home.
MCR Pathways supports young people in or on the edges of the care system to realise their full potential. By providing relationship-based mentoring alongside employment and further & higher education experiences, young people are encouraged to discover and pursue their ambitions. This revolutionary programme is transforming life chances and continued to do so throughout the pandemic. Diversifying support resources, working closely with schools, councils and the local community to help those most vulnerable, equipping young people with digital devices and mobile hotspots – these are just some of the ways the team rose to the challenge. Virtual mentoring and new digital tools have proven crucial for young people and mentors, who are supported consistently. Major funding was announced by the Scottish Government in March 2021, providing the opportunity to implement MCR’s expansion more quickly, at scale. The charity works successfully through its partnerships – with mentors, schools and supporters – all driven to give young people a better chance. In addition, the programme will soon be rolling out in its first English schools. The team has worked tirelessly to develop the programme despite the huge challenges of Covid and continues to put relationships at the heart of everything.
RefuAid – Supporting Refugee Healthcare Professionals into Work
RefuAid support refugees and asylum seekers in the UK who are looking to return to higher education or their prior profession. Our solutions focus on the key barriers to integration and re-gaining independence: access to English language tuition, finance, requalification and specialist employment advice. In March 2020, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, RefuAid were inundated with requests from over 400 refugee healthcare professionals who were desperate to help out. Many of these doctors had worked in high-pressure/low resource environments such as warzones, so had valuable qualifications, skills and experiences that would prove vital in our response to the pandemic. As such, we have been supporting refugee healthcare professionals with access to clinical opportunities within the NHS throughout the pandemic.
From the direct recruitment of GMC registered doctors, to short term clinical support placements, comprehensive requalification programmes and challenging restrictive Home Office policies, our work has tangible benefits on an individual and national scale; we are helping to alleviate the pressures on our health service and its staff, as well as supporting refugee healthcare professionals with gaining vital UK experience. In addition, once working, the individuals are contributing to the UK economy and no longer reliant on welfare benefits.
The Skills Builder Partnership – The Skills Builder Accelerator
At Skills Builder, we are working to achieve a world where everyone can build the essential skills to thrive. We focus on eight essential skills for success: Problem Solving, Creativity, Listening, Speaking, Staying Positive, Aiming High, Leadership and Teamwork. Each year, we provide over 400 schools nationwide with the training, strategic support and resources they need to accelerate skills development and make essential skills a core part of education for every learner.
When the pandemic triggered school closures across the country, it was vital that we could support our partner schools to continue building their students’ skills. We acted quickly to adapt: delivering all aspects of our training and support remotely, creating an extensive suite of home-learning resources, and designing and delivering innovative workplace ‘visits’, delivered via video platform, so that students could continue to connect essential skills to the world of work. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to deliver consistently high impact, despite this shift in our delivery model. One school told us “In the current pandemic, Skills Builder has been invaluable in enabling us to continue to support our students. By taking part in the programme we are able to equip our children with skills for life.”