Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector (External Link)
The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a concern for all of us and the UK Chief Medical Officers have recently increased the risk from low to moderate in terms of planning for all eventualities for the wider public (the risk to individuals is still low). The government has announced that we are moving out of the contain phase and into delay, in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
This information is to help you decide what steps you and your organisation may need to take in light of the spread of this virus. We will aim to keep this updated as more information comes out on the ways we can manage the spread of the virus.
Information about the virus
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain first identified in Wuhan City, China
What are the symptoms?
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- difficulty in breathing
Generally, these 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.
If you think you might be infected with the Coronavirus, do not risk spreading it by coming into work or by going to the GP or hospital. Self-isolate yourself and ring 111 for advice.
Returning Travellers - Please view the latest advice from Public Health England on the list of places, that you if you’ve travelled to the UK from in the last 14 days, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms
How COVID-19 is spread
From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Respiratory secretions containing the virus are most likely to be the most important means of transmission; these are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, in the same way colds spread.
There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:
- infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs
- it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face).
The current understanding is that the virus doesn’t survive on surfaces for longer than 72 hours.
There is currently little evidence that people without symptoms are infectious to others.
What actions do you and your organisation need to take?
- Regular and thorough hand-washing with hot soapy water (for at least 20 seconds) - this is the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice - here are some other song suggestions to get some good sounds from your bathrooms
- The agreement not to take offence when someone politely reminds us about washing our hands (it is easy to forget when we are always in a rush and our minds are elsewhere)
- Cover your cough or sneeze with an elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin
- Using antibacterial wipes on phones etc. especially if you hot desk regularly
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Put practical measures in place to help reduce the spread of the virus such as improved signage in toilets about hand-washing; antibacterial hand-wash in kitchens and regular disinfecting of taps and public door handles
- Provide hand sanitiser, tissues and cleaning products around your building for staff and volunteers
- Ensure people you support to understand the situation (particularly if they are unable to speak/read English
People who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work/volunteering
- There is new Stay at Home Guidance from the government if you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
- a new, continuous cough
If you provide services for Social or Community care or in residential settings you should consider ensuring your staff and volunteers wash their hands:
- before leaving home
- on arrival at work
- after using the toilet
- after breaks and sporting activities
- before food preparation
- before eating any food, including snacks
- before leaving work
- on arrival at home
Keep up to date with the latest advice
If you are considering whether to close your services or change how you work to remote working then there is some guidance here you may want to consider. GOV.UK Guidance for social or community care & residential settings on COVID-19 - For details on closure of workplace if someone is being tested or confirmed with the virus and cleaning your office space.
Some workplaces have made the decision to:
- Ask all staff and volunteers to work remotely / from home for the next 2-4 weeks
- Cancel larger gatherings/meetings or change them to remote meetings
- have a triage process in place and not see clients who are exhibiting symptoms
- not change their service but to have increased cleaning and hygiene routines to prevent the spread, this might also include not shaking hands or having physical contact and following the principles of Social Distancing
Funding for your service
If you are/think you will experience problems in your service delivery/cash flow. Please speak to any relevant funders asap and explain the situation. All funders will be aware of the situation and may be planning how they can support you through this period. Do not worry about this alone, please either speak to your funder or contact us and we will see if we can help.
If you are at risk of losing income then you may want to double check your insurance, If you have business continuity insurance then it may cover any loss due to the virus. It isn't standard in insurance covers but it would be worth checking if you have had it. As of 1700 on 5 Mar 2020, emergency legislation reclassified COVID-19 as a notifiable disease and so it should be covered if you have this on your insurance policy.
Central governement have advised if possible that staff should work from home. If you don't currently have a process in place there are a number of organisations that are providing free access to online services due to COVID-19 and the increased need.
Dropbox - Dropbox is offering free Dropbox Business subscriptions for a three-month period to nonprofits and NGOs that are focused on fighting COVID-19. Organisations working to stop the virus or providing relief to those impacted are encouraged to apply.
For Virtual/Video meetings there are a number of different types of software you can use.
If you have Microsoft 365 you can have public and provite meetings using Teams
Zoom - they are a webinar software and discounts are available for charities
A good place for software which can support remote working is available through Charity Digital Exchange
Please contact us if you want some advice on this and we will aim to help.
It is important that you maintain good goverance for the charity/community group over the coming months but may not want your trustees to meet. Guidance from the charity commission is that your trustees can meet virtually as long as they can see and hear each other. During this time they are aiming to support charities to continue to deliver services and maintain governance.
Reporting to the Charity Commission
If you have a serious incident relating to COVID-19 then you do still need to report this to the Charity Commission in the same way they would for other serious incidents.
Any charity that needs an extension to their annual return deadline can contact the Charity Commission to ask for one.
Charities can also call their contact centre.
Telephone0300 066 9197
Open Monday to Friday
9am to 5pm
Up-to-date information from the Government
Sector specific guidance
Coronavirus Information in Other Languages