Covid-19 - Update from our Chief Executive 20 May 2020

COVID-19 Charity Support Fund image

Read the latest update from our Chief Executive, Seamus McAleavey, on the issues facing voluntary and community organisations.

Charity Support Fund £15m 

Lots of you are seeking more information on this emergency fund.  Here is what we know at this point. NICVA is meeting with the relevant officials in the Department for Communities and discussing the fund’s development. We highlight the urgency in getting the fund rolled out. 

The Minister Deirdre Hargey has approved the fund and I expect will give some more detail shortly.  The fund will not be a flat rate fund like the Department for Economy’s support for businesses.  It will primarily focus on income loss and resultant threat to a charity’s future.  Funds will be available for small, medium and large charities. 

To prepare for making an application organisations should gather evidence to support their case;  your last available accounts, demonstrated fundraised income, the estimated loss in the 1st Quarter of the year and estimates going forward.  The amount needed to sustain the organisation. 

£15m cannot replace all the losses of all charities, so this ‘funder of last resort’ will want to know what you need to keep afloat. 

The application process is still being worked on but when ready the process is expected to be quick.  So be prepared. 

Department for Economy 

NICVA have raised lots of cases with the Department for Economy of the exclusion of Social Enterprise Organisations from the Department’s support packages.  We have had no success.  We have now written to the Minister Diane Dodds and the Economy Committee to highlight the anomalies. These are real businesses who trade across a range of activities.  Many are in hospitality, tourism and accommodation for example and their income has collapsed due to the lockdown.  They contribute to the economy and employ people but are excluded because they don’t distribute profits. 

Social Enterprise NI are to the fore on this issue and we continue to pursue a resolution. 

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Service Steering Group 

This Steering Group is led by Dr Liz Mitchell, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer and is coordinating the development of an extensive contact tracing service which is essential to combating the transmission of the virus and easing lockdown safely.  NICVA is now represented on the group and will help with engagement. 

One issue that catches the media attention is the emergence of the NHSX proximity App recently tested on the Isle of Wight.  It is expected to go live in England on 25 May.  Northern Ireland is looking to its own specific needs and has not taken a decision yet on this issue.  There is an obvious all island dimension to movement here as lockdown is eased particularly in the border area. 

Separately there are obvious privacy and human rights concerns to be considered and NICVA will ensure early engagement with human rights organisations and the wider sector to discuss whatever proposals the NI Executive develop. 

We will of course keep you updated with developments on all of this as they happen.

Stay safe everyone.

Seamus McAleavey 
Chief Executive 

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