NICVA's advice on Managing the Impact of Coronavirus

16 Mar 2020     Last updated: 25 Mar 2020

Regularly updated information for organisations managing the impact of the Coronavirus


NICVA is here to help.

We are continuing to provide support services to the voluntary and community sector and you can contact us on our usual phone number (028 9087 7777) or by raising a support request.

To protect staff and wider society, we have taken the decision to close the NICVA building to the public and to cancel all face-to-face events for the ongoing period. 


 Last update: 25 March 2020 

NICVA Response

Northern Ireland, like the rest of humanity, is dealing with a crisis that requires a whole-community response.  NICVA has no doubt that voluntary and community organisations will excel in helping the wider community cope with the challenges we face over the next few months.  NICVA will support that effort in every way possible.  We are liaising with government and funders in the first instance to ensure funding is secure and to help organisations pivot their activities to things that now need to be done to help.  We will coordinate communications and information to help voluntary and community organisations, and let you focus on what you do best—bring help and comfort to others, especially those most in need.

Our sector believes in solidarity—social solidarity, and now is the time to show it and do it.  The appeal is that we to pull together to add value, shun the negative and focus on what can be done.

It is the virus that is the enemy—when we all work together we will strengthen our response.

Seamus McAleavey, NICVA Chief Executive

NICVA HR Guidance

Please see the most up to date HR Guidance in our Articles section here.

General guidance - what practical steps can employers take now?

  1. Ensure employee contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  2. Remind employees about the importance of hygiene and regular handwashing
  3. Provide tissues and sanitiser (where hand washing facilities not immediately available, eg. in meeting rooms)
  4. Remind employees about absence reporting procedures and maintain accurate records of reasons for absence whether sickness or leave.
  5. Revisit existing policies in the organisation on flexible working options, time off for caring for a dependent and sick leave and pay and look at contracts of employment for any particular clauses which may be relevant
  6. Review practices relating to remote working and accessibility.
  7. Communicate with staff about the ongoing work of the organisation and any review of working practices
  8. Maintain regular contact with employees who are self-isolating whether working from home, or on sickness absence as per your organisational policy
  9. Seek employment law guidance from the organisation’s insurer about any employment decisions being considered as a result of COVID-19
  10. Stay up to date and in line with PHA employer guidance

Working remotely/at home is going to offer new challenges for organisations and individuals. For a checklist and tips for employers and employees regarding working from home go here

The Department for Communities has issued useful guidance for staff and managers which is adapted for wider consideration on managing sickness and leave - Guidance 

The links below (PHA, NCVO, NIBusinessinfo and ACAS) provide in depth guidance and information and are being monitored and updated regularly in light of changing circumstances.

  • With COVID-19 spreading more widely in the UK and Ireland, employers should review their practices daily to keep in line and up to date with latest guidance from the Public Health Agency.  
  • Our sister organisation in England, NCVO, has produced practical guidance about how organisations can support their staff.
  • The NIBusinessinfo website has a FAQ section for employers.
  • ACAS (GB based employer advice organisation) has useful practical guidance on general employment matters arising and this article also provides information on considerations if a workplace needs to close and the options available. 
  • FSB (Federation of Small Business) has broad range of advice

Funding News & Resources

Grants Available

At this time of uncertainty and change reassurance from our funders is vitally important. It is good to see that funders recognise that this is an exceptional situation that will have a massive impact on our sector and want to offer support and flexibility.  We will keep you updated about funders joining the wave of generosity that the coronavirus is provoking from communities across Northern Ireland and providing funding support.

  • Coronavirus Community Fund  - The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland has opened a fund for charitable groups supporting older people and dealing with emerging issues from Coronavirus. Grants are usually £1000 but can go up to £2500.  For more information go to the website.
  • The NET Fund - The National Emergencies Trust has launched an appeal to raise funds to help local charities to support those individuals suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The money raised will be distributed through a number of charitable organisations to ensure it reaches those who need it most. Details of the NET fund and criteria for groups to apply for funding will follow in the next few days. In Northern Ireland, this will be administered by the Community Foundation for NI in addition to their own Coronavirus Community Fund (Above).  See here for more details when available.   
  • MoneySavingExpert - £1,000,000 is now available from MoneySavingExpert's Martin Lewis for grants of £5,000 to £20,000 to small registered charities, or local arms of bigger charities, across the UK – to help with specific UK coronavirus-related poverty relief projects.  UPDATE 24/03/20 - More money has now been added into this fund.  To apply click here
  • Halifax Foundation NI - HFNI have decided to focus on their small and medium grants over the coming months in direct response to COVID-19. The Large and Special Initiatives grants will be put on hold for now due to the activity based nature of these programmes, to be awarded at a later date. They are inviting applications from charities and constituted groups that focus on supporting the community at this time. They hope to get grants out quickly to where funds are needed most – rather than quarterly grant making, they will process applications monthly, even weekly where needed.  Apply here
  • - funded by M&S Family (including M&S Bank and M&S Energy), Lidl, Aldi, Danone UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola European Partners this new fund will support community organisations helping those most at risk during the Coronavirus crisis. The Neighbourly Community Fund will funnel vital funds directly to community causes across the UK to ensure they can deliver essential services to those most at risk during the crisis. The partners have committed a combined total of almost £500,000 to the Fund, to provide immediate micro-grants to community organisations that are helping the people most affected by the outbreak, including the elderly, those on low incomes and people at risk of food insecurity. And they are calling on other businesses to join them and contribute to the fund to build a coordinated response.

Funders' Support 

The statement released by London Funders on behalf of a long list of funders (including Paul Hamlyn Foundation, BB Children in Need, Tudor Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and Joseph Rowntree) shows that they are taking action and putting plans in place.

They state that “We wish to be as helpful as possible during the coming weeks and months so that civil society groups can focus on the vital work of supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. We understand that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available, when beneficiaries may need services to be provided in different ways, or when systems need to be flexible to ensure that needs are met.”

Below are links to some of the funders' websites to show what they are doing to help and support our sector.

Northern Ireland Based Funders 

Halifax Foundation NI are ensuring that grantholders are supported.  Brenda McMullan, Executive Director, made a statement that,

  • We will be reasonable if you need to request budget changes to ensure your projects can continue.
  • We will consider any project extension requests sympathetically.
  • If you think you will struggle to meet your end of project evaluation deadline please get in touch to request an extension.

Other Fundraising Advice & Resources

  • For advice on what to do regarding cancelling fundraising events and/or returning donations, see the article here 
  • Fundraising Regulator's Advice Note for charities on fundraising events in light of covid-19 - see NICVA's summary and advice note here 
  • PSNI suspends permits for street collections - In light of COVID-19, the PSNI has made the decision to temporarily suspend issuing any permits or licences for street and house-to-house charity collections in line with the Government’s guidance on social distancing.
  • IOF and FR advise charities to relfect seriously on public fundraising operations. The IoF estimates this will have a significant financial impact on the sector, with charities standing to lose hundreds of millions of pounds. You can read their joint statement here
  • For an article on the likely consequences of Covid-19 on legacy fundraising by Chris Farmelo, Technical Director, Legacy Foresight, see here

Guidance on 'social distancing' including protecting older people and vulnerable adults (

This guidance is for everyone. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers. If you live in a residential care setting - guidance is available at residential care setting

guidance here

Guidance on how to minimise the spread of infection - and more

Here you’ll find a host of information that will help you, by providing advice on:

  • How to reduce the spread of infection
  • Cleaning routines for offices and public spaces
  • How to dispose of contaminated waste safely
  • Certifying absence from work; and
  • What to do when people in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus

Social Care Council : Supporting Good Infection Control - This learning resource includes information on a range of areas that impact good infection control within adult residential care homes, nursing homes, day care, domiciliary care and supported living settings. The resource has been developed to support social care workers but can be used by other health and social care professionals, families and individuals. 

Guidance for social or community care and residential settings

If you work in social care, support any type of community-based activity or are involved in residential care, please read the advice on minimising the spread of the virus, and what to do if a member of your voluntary or community organisation is either unwell or has tested positive for coronavirus. 

Click here for more information

Advice and guidance from voluntary and community sector organisations

Advice and guidance on coronavirus that NICVA members and other voluntary and community sector organisations in Northern Ireland have produced:

How to protect staff, volunteers and visitors

  • Provide clear information using all communication channels, including posters and emails
  • Make sure you have handwashing facilities, hand sanitisers and tissues, as well as cleaning products around your building for staff and visitors
  • Follow a strict cleaning regime
  • Review your travel arrangements and only travel if advised (coronavirus travel advice)

Remote Working & Technology

  • National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - Home working: preparing your organisation and staff - How to make sure your organisation is prepared for an increase in home working, and advice on spotting coronavirus (COVID-19) scam emails.
  • Coronavirus Tech Handbook - provides a space for technologists, specialists, civic organisations and public & private institutions to collaborate on a rapid and sophisticated response to the coronavirus outbreak. It is a dynamic resource with many hundreds of contributors that is evolving very quickly
  • NICVA's Sandra Bailie provides tips on working from home

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

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