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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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COVID-19 guidance for everyone

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing many charities to change how they usually operate. The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is working to share and provide guidance to assist charities where possible as they navigate their way through this unprecedented health emergency. Please click on the area you are interested in see the Commission's response.

1. Volunteering with a charity during the pandemic:

2. Donating to an established charity to help those most affected by the pandemic

3. Giving safely to charities (including reporting fraud, scams and cybercrime)

4. The Emergencies Leadership Group

5. Other sources of help and advice

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1. Volunteering with a charity during the pandemic

Support for volunteers

The lead organisation for promoting and supporting volunteering across Northern Ireland, Volunteer Now has published information providing guidance and templates to support volunteering during this challenging time.

All of the sheets are available via the links above or on the Volunteer Now website here.

Finding volunteers, or offering to volunteer

Volunteer Now has also launched a new campaign ‘HelpEachOther’ to encourage organisations to register their safe opportunities which will then be promoted to individuals who would like to help.

If you are a volunteer-involving organisation who would like to involve more volunteers as a result of COVID-19 please contact Volunteer Now (info@volunteernow.co.uk), or if you would like to volunteer please register your interest via www.volunteernow.co.uk

2. Donating to an established charity to help those most affected by the pandemic

If you want to help those most affected by the Coronavirus outbreak by donating to an established charity, rather than trying to set up your own appeal, then you may be interested in The National Emergencies Trust (NET) coronavirus fundraising appeal. You can find out more about the appeal here, and more about the Trust and its work below.

  • What is the NET?

Following the intensity of emergencies in 2017 – from the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London to Grenfell – the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) convened a number of people in the charitable sector to see if there was a better way of responding to national emergencies.

This led to the creation of the National Emergencies Trust (NET), which will collaborate with charities and other bodies to raise and distribute money and support victims at the time of a domestic disaster.

  • What does the NET do?

The Trust works collaboratively with a wide range of organisations to ensure the maximum amount of money is raised and distributed securely, effectively, and fairly to those organisations and local charities who can do most to help those in need.

Since its establishment, the Trust has built a partnership network to provide the public with reassurance that the funds raised will only be channelled through the most trusted and reputable organisations, so you know you’re giving to those who need it the most.

In time, the Trust will report back on how money raised was spent, and work collaboratively with others in the sector to share best practices.

3. Giving safely to charities (including reporting fraud, scams and cybercrime))

At all times it is important to try to make sure you are contributing to a legitimate organisation.  One of the ways of doing this is by checking to see if the charity is listed on the Northern Ireland register of charities or, if not yet registered, is included on the Commission’s public Combined list. This list contains the names of all organisations the Commission is aware of which must apply for registration as a charity when called forward by the Commission to do so.

If you are concerned about the fundraising practices of any charity at this time you should, in the first instance, contact the charity.  If you are still concerned, then you should contact the Fundraising Regulator. You can find advice on the regulator’s website on giving safely and fundraising.

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.

You should report fraud, scams and related cybercrime directly to Action Fraud unless you are requesting a call for service from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). You should ask for a call for service when any of these apply:

  • a fraud is being committed or recently occurred (within 24 hours)
  • you know the suspect and they live in Northern Ireland
  • the victim is perceived to be vulnerable, through age, mental or physical impairment, or in need of care and support
  • you believe it's important to report the incident to police so they can secure and preserve evidence or prevent loss  (such as CCTV  and recovering large amounts of money transferred from bank accounts before the criminal can remove it)

You can request a call for service report to the PSNI by phoning 101 or 999 in an emergency.

  4. The Emergencies Leadership Group

An Emergencies Leadership Group has been established by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to co-ordinate a joint Government/sector response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Emergencies Leadership Group will report to the Minister and onward to the NI Executive Emergency Contingencies Group.

It is establishing a number of sub-groups to co-ordinate different elements of the Covid-19 response, namely:

  • Communication & Engagement (Lead: Seamus McAleavey, NICVA)
  • Volunteering Response (Lead: Denise Hayward, Volunteer Now)
  • Food Response (Maeve Monaghan, NOW Group)
  • Medicine/Pharmacy and utility supplies (Joanne Morgan, Community Development & Health Network)
  • Well-being in self-isolation (TBC)
  • COVID-19 Community Helpline (Kevin Higgins Advice NI)
  • COVID-19 Funding  (Moira Doherty, Department for Communities)

5. Other sources of help and advice

The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) continuing to provide support services to the voluntary and community sector. To protect staff and wider society, the NICVA building is closed to the public at this time, however, you can get in contact via the usual phone number (028 9087 7777) or by raising a support request.

The Fundraising Regulator has published advice on giving safely and fundraising as the situation develops.