This is where we’ll post third sector news and important updates that are useful for your organisation.

Interview with Lorraine member of The Steering group for The Essex Alliance

  1. What is your role and what organisations do you work for?

I work for Provide CIC, a community interest company delivering NHS services and my role within Provide is Volunteer coordinator. At the start of the pandemic, I was also asked to support the setting-up of the Essex Wellbeing service by onboarding volunteers.  The Essex Wellbeing Service is funded by Essex County Council and was developed as a response to the pandemic with Provide’s Essex Lifestyle service.


Normally, my role is recruiting, training and placing volunteers within our community services.  We have community beds on wards in St Peters Hospital Rehabilitation and Stroke Unit in Maldon and Halstead Hospital ward.  Volunteers would be running pop-up shops, engaging with patients in activities, acting as lunch buddies and general befriending.  As well as ward volunteers we have people meeting and greeting visitors to our services both on the wards and in reception areas for different services like outpatients and therapies.  We also have volunteers in admin support roles.


During the setting up of Essex Wellbeing Service I helped to onboard over 500 volunteers.  It was an epic task and new technology was developed to do this process as effectively as possible.  Volunteers were enlisted to complete set tasks like shopping, befriending, dog walking and transport to hospital appointments.  The pandemic created a need for a massive community response and a re-thinking of ways to recruit volunteers in order to get the rapid response needed.  Using the “Priority Me App”, volunteers could log-on when they were available to pick up jobs, which allows for a lot of flexibility.


During the pandemic existing Provide volunteers have helped in many ways supporting staff and services.  The Halstead Ward location was moved to Braintree and volunteers played an important role in helping pack up wards and be there to support patients during the changeover.  Up until this last lock down volunteers were being used to meet visitors and patients, take temperatures and for logging track and trace details.


As we have all experienced through the current situation, the demands on my role has been constantly changing and I have had to adapt to this.  For example, I just recruited six new volunteers for the outpatient service in St. Peter’s Hospital, Maldon. This is a lot of work with the screening process, ID and DBS checks.  I had no sooner completed the process when the clinical staff were re-deployed onto front line wards and the new role has been suspended for the moment.  Luckily, I was able to direct these volunteers to the mass vaccination recruitment coordinator so I hope they get to volunteer soon.


Since the pandemic began my role has changed direction several times.  From mass screening of volunteers, to actually driving patients to emergency hospital appointments when no one else was available.  I have had to respond rapidly to requests from services who may need volunteers for urgent one-off tasks followed by specialist support roles which need an experienced volunteer. I have had to be very flexible and adaptable and this looks set to continue for a while yet.  I do look forward to the time when the wards re-open and normal volunteer services re-commence and our regular long-term volunteers return to their roles.  Unfortunately, many of our pre-Covid volunteers were unable to continue during the pandemic as they had to shield but are keen to return.


  1. Last year was a very different experience for everyone. How did you find your organisation dealt with the pandemic?

Provide is a really good organisation for communications and it works very hard to make sure people understand how the situation was unfolding.  I think this really helped me to cope with so much uncertainty.  As well as regular notices and briefings, our CEO produces a weekly update video, and it shows he is reaching out to us.  I have certainly felt safe with the working arrangements which have been put in place and those which apply to going into the office.


As well as regular meetings with my line manager we, in the HR Department trialled a buddying system to support each other which was also very helpful.  Colleagues met for a twenty minutes session each week to share and listen to each other.  Not as a result of the pandemic but something which was being developed anyway was introducing “Schwarz Rounds” which are meetings for teams specifically to be therapeutic and supportive for people in the NHS and I have been asked to train as a facilitator.


My organisation’s IT department was very quick to get Teams sorted out for everyone, which really helped with everyone being able to communicate and continue with meetings.  Teams has become second nature for communicating now and it is difficult to imagine going back to travelling to face to face meetings as we used to.


Obviously, delivering all the clinical services that Provide has to do, this year has been a great strain on everyone because of the massive changes which were required and also staff re-deployment.  Interestingly, I know some of the staff who were and are re-deployed have gained a real insight into the frontline experience.


The other big change which had to be made over this period was the whole recruitment process.  The Provide volunteer recruitment process is aligned to NHS guidelines and involves interviewing and meeting volunteers face to face at least twice, as well as their attendance at Corporate Training.  Adaptations had to be made and a new process has been developed and, I wonder if we will ever really return to exactly what we did before, especially for volunteer training. NHS England set-up on line Volunteer Passport and, to be honest, whilst the content is the same as I delivered, the format is very accessible and the new volunteers have said they enjoyed it and could do it in their own time too.  Obviously, this would not work for volunteers who don’t like or feel confident or access internet.


Overall, I think Provide proved to be very adaptable and resourceful and did have to put demands on staff and I certainly felt, informed and supported during the process.


  1. The Third Sector has found the global pandemic difficult across the board. Is there anything you found challenging within job role and organisation?

The biggest challenge is having volunteers who want to help but not having enough roles available.  We do have to be very mindful of not putting patients, staff and volunteers into a high-risk situation and, particularly on the wards, it was agreed that we could not provide enough support to put volunteers into Covid wards.  All credit to Provide, active volunteers working for Provide have, along with paid members of staff, have all been offered the vaccine.


Another personal challenge is the feeling I cannot plan services in the way I would normally do.  Even when I do plan, it literally doesn’t always work out as expected.  An example of this was when the vaccine programme was announced.  I immediately recruited a team of driving volunteers, as I expected a surge in requests for volunteer drivers.  So far there has not been a great demand and I think this may well be because people have built a support network up during this last year.


Other challenges have been around working from home.  Not seeing work colleagues face to face and missing the social interactions.  At home, I have found it hard to come away from my desk.  Before the pandemic, my home was always my sanctuary but now it feels like that line has become blurred and home is work and work is home.  Especially when I have taken annual leave, there is the temptation to have a look if everything is alright.


  1. During these uncertain times, it is good for everyone to stick together and give each other a helping hand. What has been vital in supporting you in your job role and you personally during COVID-19?

The main thing which has helped me during the pandemic is having a meaningful job and actually working every day.  Having a purpose, having conversations with people which are not all about Covid and lock down, has been a real life saver.

It has also been really good to work with my colleagues in Provide who are call handlers in the Essex Wellbeing Service.  The feeling you get when you are working with others, to make something happen for someone you will never meet, but know you have made a difference because you helped resolve a problem is really great.

Also working with EPUT and other organisations on a project for setting-up a volunteer’s passport to cover volunteering in the NHS in Essex gave the opportunity to meet with other volunteer coordinators.  It was really reassuring to share similar experiences of Covid, volunteers and issues around recruitment and it was good to actually meet new people.

My colleagues in Provide have also been very supportive of each other.  This came to light particularly at Christmas as I organised some staff events which included, a secret Santa for children of families who rely on the food bank and Christmas bags and presents for the homeless.   There was a huge response from my colleagues, who were incredibly generous and kind, which was amazing and really lifted my spirits.


  1. Let’s look to the future. What are you looking forward to this year in the Third Sector and within your organisation?

I’m looking forward to the services I support returning to whatever will be ‘normality’. It will be a real joy to be able to to plan services, events, recruitment and also have face-to-face contact. Building on the knowledge and experience I have gained, I want to evaluate what good things have come out of all that happened last year. I can see real merit in the new way of recruiting volunteers which saves time for everyone and also incorporates the on-line training as normal.  I will definitely continue to utilise volunteers through the Essex Wellbeing Service for micro-volunteering projects which gives Provide the opportunity to use volunteers so much more.

Most of all, I am so looking forward to going back into the office for at least a few days a week and seeing colleagues and volunteers again on a regular basis.


  1. What would your advice be to other Third Sector organisations while we are in the midst of a third lockdown?

I think it is very difficult to give advice.  For me, I am going to reflect on what happened and not be frightened to think outside of the box.  Given the wave of enthusiasm for volunteering and the acceptance that volunteers can deliver good services, I want to think about what else could they be doing?  I would definitely be looking at micro-volunteering options and reviewing recruitment processes.  I am sure everyone has had similar experiences and realised there are great efficiencies in on-line interviewing and training.  Finally, I would also review risk assessments and ask whether we are being too risk-averse whilst weighing up the benefits to the community that volunteering can bring.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Community Development Officer – MDCVS

Maldon and District CVS are looking for a full time Community Development Officer to join the team. This is a great opportunity to play a role in supporting communities across Maldon District to build on the community cohesion, partnerships and volunteering that came to the fore during the Coronavirus pandemic. The post holder will take a lead on continued support to people who are vulnerable or in crisis working with and facilitating a network of partners from a range of sectors and local people. They will build on opportunities to create new ways of connecting and promoting wellbeing, work with communities with an asset based approach and develop projects to address needs in the community.

Deadline for applications: 1st March 2021, 5pm

For the job description and application please visit Maldon and District CVS website.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Essex Coronavirus Action Page

Have you got a message you want to get out to the Essex Community? Do you have services that will help to support people in these difficult times? Look no further.
Simon at Essex Coronavirus Action will promote relevant and appropriate services through the ECA Facebook page. If you have anything you feel will be a benefit or any opportunities you may have. share them with Simon via email [email protected] & [email protected]

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Micro grants for grassroots organisations giving support during pandemic

Micro grants up to £500 are now available for groups helping communities through the pandemic to improve their communications and technology.

The scheme was launched last week with £50,000 from the Covid-19 funding Essex County Council has received from Government to support people and businesses affected by the pandemic.

Grassroots organisations such as food banks, community kitchens and clothes banks can apply for the grants through Essex Association of Local Councils. They can use the grants to advertise and promote what they are doing and improve their online presence.

Interested groups can apply before 31 March 2021 at


Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Here for you Toolkit

As some of you might be aware already, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) and Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) have been in the process of developing a new psychological support service. The service ‘Here for You’, launched this week and is specifically for staff who work in health, social care or the voluntary sector in Essex and Herts. The service is for anyone who is struggling with the impact of the pandemic and has been set up for both frontline and support staff. Please find attached the flyer and the detailed messaging – please do share and make providers and colleagues aware.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

ISS Charity Vacancies

Chief Executive Officer/Operations Manager

Job Description and Specifications Position:

Chief Executive Officer/Operations Manager Hours: 37.5 hours per week

Pay Grade: Salary: £36,016 Holiday

Entitlement: 30 days

Responsible to:

Integration Support Services Board of Trustees The post of CEO/Operations Manager will be central to the growth and development of ISS and will play a leading role in the promotion of positive policies and practices on issues relating to Migrants, Refugees and other BME groups. Integration Support Services is a small charity based in Harlow, West Essex which consists of a small team of paid staff and volunteers.

The charity provides various services for the local community of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and BME groups living in Essex and Hertfordshire. The examples of the services provided by ISS are English lessons for adults, social events, talking groups, immigration advice, women’s group, children’s Saturday club, hate crime report centre, etc. The CEO/Operations Manager will have executive responsibility for the strategic development and management of the organization, the preparation and implementation of the ISS strategic plan as developed, and for the growth and expansion of the organisation, under the supervision of and with the support of the Board of Trustees.

Reporting to the Chair and the Board of Trustees/Directors, the CEO/Operations Officer will have overall responsibility for service delivery, advocacy, policy development and research programmes. The Covid 19 pandemic caused the charity to move all its services online. Previously we had a predominantly face-to-face service delivery model. We are financially stable with good funder relationships. Integration Support Services has a track record of good service delivery since it was founded by a group of migrant volunteers in 2007. This is due in no small part to the dedication and hard work of our staff and volunteers. ISS board of trustees keenly anticipate the challenge of 2021 and beyond: we are looking for a Chief Executive who can share this challenge by planning strategically, delivering change, providing leadership and piloting us confidently through rapidly changing times. The board are confident that with the right leadership ISS will be able to overcome all difficulties and turbulent times in our way.

For more information click here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Sanctuary – Mind in West Essex

The Sanctuary is for people who are experiencing a mental health crisis but do not require hospital admission. We are open from 5pm – midnight, 365 days a year.

How to Access Support

Call 111, select option 2

Your needs will be assessed and could be that you are referred to the Sanctuary. You details will be forwarded to the sanctuary team and they will make contact with you as soon as possible. You will be provided with an empathic ear for you to talk freely.

You will be provided with information around coping strategies and how to access the help you need.

We can only accept people who have been referred into the service, there is no drop-in.

During lockdown we are offering mainly video and telephone support, however if this is not possible a visit to the sanctuary can be arranged.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

New books for fundraisers for 2021

The new year brings a list of new books for fundraisers to get their teeth in. Here are three that have just been published or are due out shortly, covering Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, imposter syndrome, and the role of charities in an era of greater scrutiny.

What Have Charities Ever Done for Us?

Journalists Stephen Cook and Tania Mason’s new book is an attempt to rebalance the debate about the role, value and integrity of charities.

Published a year after the coronavirus pandemic hit, it highlights how charities have been among the first to respond to the social and economic crisis, while often having to furlough staff and operate on much reduced donations.


Read the full list here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Fundraising Regulator publishes latest Annual Report & Accounts

The reporting period (1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020) falls six months before and six months after the Coronavirus pandemic began.

The report highlights how the regulator responded by focusing its efforts on producing guidance in collaboration with other sector organisations to help fundraisers and the public fundraise and donate safely.

The Annual Report also shows how the nature of enquiries the regulator received changed over the period, as fundraisers adapted to the restrictions on social contact, and the volume of complaints received fluctuated across the year, reflecting times when public fundraising methods were paused.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News

Charities urged to join in today’s #ReclaimSocial campaign

#ReclaimSocial, the yearly viral campaign that aims to reclaim social media for good goes live today, 5 February.

Now in its fourth year, the campaign encourages charities and individuals to share inspiring and positive stories of how they use social media to make a difference, nominate heroes who brighten up their feed, thank supporters, volunteers and teams, and share the impact of work from the last year.

Previous years have seen the likes of Miranda Hart, Rob Delaney and feminist journalist Mona Eltahawy spreading positivity to followers, as well as charities like WWF UK, Samaritans, Macmillan Cancer, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), The Big Give, Giving Tuesday, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention getting involved.

Read more information here.

Author: Jade Bolton
Categories: News