Coronavirus update 3: what we’re hearing from our grant holders

28th April 2020

Over the last six weeks we’ve reached out to our grant holders, offering reassurance that we are continuing to make payments and are committed to being flexible around timelines and reporting. Tudor has over 700 active grants, and many more relationships with organisations working to support positive changes in people’s lives and in their communities around the UK.

From the replies via email, phone calls and Zoom chats, we are able to share a bit of what we’re hearing about how voluntary and community groups are responding to Coronavirus. We know it is a rapidly changing picture, and for many, dealing with the uncertainty caused by the crisis continues to be a huge challenge. But we're also hearing that many groups are listening to their communities and responding in new and creative ways.

Phase one: reacting to the crisis

Although all the organisations we work with are in different situations in terms of what they are able to deliver in the current context, there are some themes that have come out of the updates we received in the first few weeks of the crisis:

  • Moving from face to face to online: most groups started thinking about moving services online, or via phone, Whatsapp or Walkie Talkies(!) very quickly. However, they have faced challenges, from the cost of setting up staff for remote working, to the ability of many of the people they work with to access a phone or an internet enabled device. It has meant many grant holders are reallocating funds to buy new equipment for staff, or phone credit for the people they work with to stay in touch.
  • Demand has increased: many started to see an increase in demand for their services, especially those that provide support around mental health, benefits and financial advice.
  • New services: some are now providing new or additional services, such as delivering food and supplies to the local community.
  • Collaboration isn’t universal: there’s a mixed picture on how well groups are working with others in their local areas, some reporting really positive and effective partnerships with other groups, charities, faith groups and Local Authorities. Others report feeling alone in providing support for their communities.
  • Earned income under threat: immediate concerns for many were around a loss of earned income, especially those who rely on income from café receipts and room hire.

Phase two: continuing into the second month

Over the past couple of weeks we have started to hear more detail from grant holders about their response, and the continuing challenges they face:

  • Personal cost: staff and volunteers are starting to experience burnout, working long days, with extreme pressure on themselves as leaders, and worries about their staff and own families’ health.
  • Keeping safe is an issue: a lack of PPE for staff who are working in the community.
  • Loss of relating: a frustration with the limitations of remote working, and being unable to really understand and support people who are most in need.
  • What comes next? starting to worry about medium/long term consequences to their organisations and needs of the people they work with, but don’t have the time or space to really start planning around what this could mean.

As the lockdown continues, there are some areas where we are seeing acute need, as the crisis entrenches the disadvantage already faced by many in society:

  • Groups working with people affected by domestic violence and abuse have reported refuges that are full, and concern for those who are unable to leave home at the moment.
  • Those working with refugees and asylum seekers are sharing with us their concern for vulnerable members of their communities, especially those who are facing challenges with language, accessing services, health care and support.
  • Groups working with those who are homeless, many of whom are now in hostels or hotels, but without access to washing machines or fresh food.
  • Mental health concerns for all vulnerable and isolated people.

As a result of these conversations, we’ve made 27 immediate support grants totalling £49,400, and nine larger flex grants totalling £205,000, to our grant holders to respond to the crisis.

We are publishing all our funding data on 360Giving. We hope, that by sharing the grants we have made along with other funders, we can enable the best use of resources across the UK. We will keep this list updated on a weekly basis. For a list of published data from all funders visit the 360Giving Covid-19 grants tracker here.

What we’re learning from our 700+ grant holders reflects much of what we’re hearing from others in the sector. However, it is a quickly changing picture. We’ll continue to listen to our grant holders, and partners such as IVAR, NCVO, the Small Charities Coalition and others, to understand the challenges voluntary and community groups face.

More about how voluntary and community groups are responding to COVID-19:

If you are aware of other sources of information about the impact of Coronavirus on communities across the UK please get in touch with our Learning and Communications Manager Annie Salter.

If you are a Tudor grant holder the best way to stay in touch is via email to your Grant Manager.

If you are considering applying for funding, please review our latest guidelines here.