Emergencies Leadership Group meets again to drive progress

Emergencies Leadership Group updates and progress following their latest meeting on 2 April 2020.

The Emergencies Leadership Group was established by DfC Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA, and first met on 20 March 2020.  There have been several meetings since and the latest was Thursday 2 April 2020.  This is an update from that meeting.
NICVA has lead responsibility for Communications and Engagement for the group.  It will be a two way process of sharing information up and down to the group.  Issues and concerns raised by community and voluntary groups, we are passing on to Government and/or appropriate authorities. Obviously, not every single question as there are too many, but an aggregated version of key points.
It is also important and greatly appreciated if all organisations, small or large, update the help they are offering in the COVID-19 fight on www.communityni.org. The ELG and Department for Communities believe one central register of help will assist everyone; those in need of help, those working on their behalf and those providing outstanding voluntary service.
CFNI, the Community Foundation Northern Ireland has opened a Coronavirus Community Fund to target frontline groups helping communities. Here's what they have done so far:

Received 423 applications; raised £560k for the fund; £344k spent or allocated to 200 groups. Rate of spend increasing and hoping to receive more money from the NET (National Emergencies Trust) fund raising effort.  Here is what some of the groups are doing:

DfC is supporting Advice NI to manage a Freephone Helpline to assist those in vulnerable groups to access information, advice and guidance in relation to COVID-19  The helpline is open 9am to 5pm, 7 days per week, the number is 0808 802 0020.
ELG Members

  • Moira Doherty, Deputy Secretary DfC, Chair
  • Fiona McLeod, Red Cross, Joint Chair
  • Kevin Higgins, Advice NI
  • Lisa McElherron, Inspire
  • Charles Lamberton, TRIAX, Derry
  • Koulla Yaisoumma, Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • Maeve Monaghan, NOW Group
  • Jonny Currie, East Belfast Community Development Agency
  • Denise Hayward, Volunteer Now
  • David Smyth, Evangelical Alliance
  • Gerry McConville, Falls Community Council
  • Kate Clifford, Rural Community Network
  • Andrew McCracken, CFNI
  • Joanne Morgan, CDHN
  • Jim Girvan, Upper Andersonstown Community Forum
  • Seamus McAleavey, NICVA
  • Stephen Reid, SOLACE (North Down and Ards Borough Council)
  • Sharron Russell, DfC


The ELG is working on several strands and the following people lead on those:

There is also a wider ELG Reference Group which will meet less often.

Support for prescription delivery and Community Pharmacy

The goal of this strand is ensuring the safe delivery of medication to vulnerable and isolated people who cannot arrange for anyone to collect their prescriptions.  Recognition needs to be given to the fact that the delivery of medication should be treated sensitively and carefully.  CDHN is working with the DoH and HSCB to produce a set of robust procedures that protect the patient, the community pharmacy and the community / voluntary sector organisations who may wish to provide support.
Progress to date:

  • Standard Operating Procedures and all associated documents are completed and awaiting final sign off from HSCB / DoH
  • Partnership agreement form for Community / Voluntary groups wishing to participate is complete
  • A set of prompt questions has been developed for Advice Ni advice line and for use by HSC Trusts to categorise those who need support most
  • Wide range of organisations with volunteers who have capacity and meet the criteria have been identified and contact is underway
  • HSCB have disseminated a letter  to all community pharmacies on behalf of CDHN outlining the proposed approach
  • Contact with all community pharmacies is underway by phone from CDHN to ascertain interest in the proposed approach
  • Arrangements have been made with HSC Trust Health and Wellbeing Leads re connecting in for identification of matching opportunities and gaps

It is anticipated that this approach will be officially launch week commencing 6th April.
For more information contact :
[email protected]
[email protected]


DfC leading on the regional response on Food for vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis. 

  • They are currently working with all 11 Councils to provide funding to essential voluntary and community organisations in Council areas to support vulnerable people. Amazing work going on here already and a number of local businesses currently providing pro bono support in local communities. 
  • Data set is not finalized yet but we are still focusing on the 40k people who have received shielding letters this week on the premise that there may be 10k of that group with no family support, with limited income or who are vulnerable. Acknowledgement that there are a range of other vulnerable groups not in this group but are known to grassroots organisations - those in food poverty for example.
  • DfC have made significant inroads from last week. An announcement on this is expected shortly.
  • Ready to design stage 2 – ready meals and hot meals. EY supporting DfC to stand up a supply chain process. Today’s meeting to check scope, listen to questions around the table and use this information to build the procurement process. Looking at opportunities for social enterprises to link into this supply chain but focus is on organisations with significant capacity to scale. This is not replacing essential work going on locally supporting vulnerable groups. This is a back-up of product to those community hubs for the weeks ahead when capacity comes under strain.
  • Need to map capacity and geographical spread. Likely to identify 3-4 production centres across NI. Food will be produced at these sites then taken from there to 30 community distribution hubs managed by Councils. Geographical spread is across all 11 Councils.

For more information contact: [email protected]


Volunteer Now’s volunteering search and management platform, powered by Be Collective, is an effective tool for your use during these unprecedented times.

It will enable you to create a page specifically for your organisation or group, e.g. Council Co-ordination Hub and through this page you will be able to post role specific opportunities that will:

  • Tailor registration forms depending on the information you require (these can be saved and re-used as necessary)
  • Detail shifts required
  • Skills required
  • Identify if it’s a COVID-19 role
  • State if its suitable for those under 16
  • Create volunteer briefs – letting them know of any updates etc.

Once you have roles posted those in the COVID-19 volunteering group will be able to register for these roles. You can then:

  • Partner with Volunteer Now as well as other organisations who are also promoting volunteering opportunities or who involve volunteers, e.g. your local volunteer centre, networks, etc. In this way they also know what opportunities you are offering and can support your ask.
  • Accept volunteers who are suitable for the roles they apply for.
  • For those who maybe aren’t suitable for whatever reason you can communicate with them offering other roles or encourage them to contact us or their local volunteer centre.
  • You can contact them with further guidance, information and support when needed.
  • You can post from your group page to social media etc sharing good news stories, information about the work that you are doing.
  • You can also sign off hours undertaken automatically or make a note against volunteers who are maybe brilliant or need additional support.

The system will also enable to create reports outlining the impact of volunteer involvement. This report will provide information on the number of roles you have, the number of volunteers recruited and the time they have given. This will undoubtedly help as we assess the impact of the volunteer movement in protecting and supporting our local communities.

If you would like support to promote your opportunities on Be Collective please email: [email protected] or phone: 028 9023 2020 and one of the team will be in touch.

 Health and Wellbeing

The wellbeing stream is in the early planning stages.  It aims to promote and protect the psychological wellbeing of people in communities across NI via mental health and wellbeing advice through:

  •  Promoting key messages across online and offline platforms
  • Creating and connecting an informed community of support via co-ordination of key partners
  • Access to self-care/self-help resources, signposting to services available across NI
  • Ensure connections to existing helplines and other interventions to avoid duplication and maximise capacity
  • Longer term recovery response to societal trauma

The project will involve the co-ordination of key VCSE and statutory partners across three strands:

a) population wide messaging and the creation of a central wellbeing hub for community information and signposting.  This messaging will be done in partnership and co-ordination with the PHA in order to ensure connectivity with public messaging around Covid19. The campaign will aim to use a partnership approach to co-ordinate key messages and use of collective communication channels to amplify the expertise in the community and voluntary sector and reach as many people as possible. It will focus on two specific groups:

  •         The general population
  •         Specific advice and guidance for vulnerable groups

b) mapping and sharing of community based mental health support for vulnerable people

c) contribution to trauma based recovery for society post-Covid19

Contact Lisa McElherron [email protected]

We will let you know as soon as we have more developments to report.


Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities can share their service information here

> Share your support

Find more coronavirus information from NICVA

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.

Read more on...