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Supporting civil society through the COVID-19 crisis

May 19th 2020

It is only by moving at pace, displaying collective leadership and listening to those on the ground, that funders of Civil Society in Wales can support the third sector to respond to the immediate and longer term challenges of COVID-19, says John Rose, Director of The National Lottery Fund in Wales.

As the impact of the COVID- 19 crisis became apparent, The National Lottery Community Fund took prompt action to adapt its working and establish how to best use National Lottery funding to support people and communities across Wales to respond.

Our immediate priority has been to support our grant holders and to keep money flowing through our responsive programmes. Providing flexibility to our grant holders, through offering additional support and grant variations has been welcomed.

“We are so grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for supporting us to adapt to these challenging times. Demand for our services has increased, and through your support we have enhanced our online and telephone support for people to maintain positive mental health.”
Franck Banza, Centre for African Entrepreneurship.

Our IT infrastructure enabled us to move smoothly to home working, and our Virtual Customer Hotline was set up within days to enable customers to contact us. Our two main funding programmesPeople and Places and National Lottery Awards for All were repurposed to make sure funding remained available to communities across Wales. We continue to prioritise applications for:

  • Organisations supporting people who are at high risk from COVID-19
  • Organisations supporting communities most likely to face increased demand and challenges as a direct result of COVID-19
  • Organisations with high potential to support communities with the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19.

Learning and Insight about COVID-19

We have drawn together our learning from grant holders and shared it online.   It captures the learning from the period immediately after the lockdown as well as ways in which groups are adapting their services to support people within their communities as they response to Covid-19. Our  Third Sector Insight podcast also draws on the response led by Invest Local, funded by The National Lottery to support their local responses to COVID-19:  you can listen here

We are, of course, just one funder amongst many that is offering support at this difficult time. With so many organisations and communities in need of support, and with limited funding available, it is vital that funders supporting Civil Society in Wales show leadership and work together to maximise the opportunities for the communities that they serve.

Through the Wales Funders’ Forum we have been able to do just that. Working closely with colleagues at WCVA, Community Foundation in Wales, Welsh Government and other funders to signpost organisations to the best funder to meet their needs; to share information on the awards that we have made to reduce instances of double-funding; and to share vital intelligence on the emerging needs that we are seeing so that we can collectively think abut how best to respond. It is a level of co-operation and collaboration that has been inspiring.

Whilst adapting our approaches, we have continued to make awards to ensure National Lottery funding reaches people and communities across Wales.  Last month, we awarded  just over £5 million to 164 charities and smaller voluntary led community projects across Wales, many of which are helping people to support each other and in doing so bringing hope for the future.

It’s been inspiring seeing how communities have come together, and going forward as  a funder we need to maintain our response collectively to the medium and longer term challenges that Welsh Civil Society will face once we emerge from the challenge of the immediate crisis.

John Rose is Director of The National Lottery Fund in Wales.  Follow him on Twitter @johnroseWales and the lottery fund at @TNLComFundWales 

 

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