Happy New Year from all of us at The Association! We hope you managed to find some time to rest and recover over the Christmas period after what was an incredibly challenging year.
We know that times continue to be tough for everyone, and especially so for all those still on the front lines, fighting daily to keep us safe from the covid19 virus. To all of you, our front line workers, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued efforts.
We ended 2020 with hopes for a peaceful and productive 2021, where mental health continues to be a priority for everyone, as it most certainly will be for us. And with that in mind, we wanted to update you about the Mental Health Sustainability Programme and invite you to participate, if you can.
Since August last year, we have been running the pilot phase of the Programme, with some of our private sector partners supporting 9 VCSE providers with volunteering minutes across various business needs. We ran a virtual event in December (which you can watch here) where we talked about the pilot phase in more detail and our plans for the future. The pilot phase helped us to understand where the pressure points are, as well as how to structure our internal processes so that we can match providers with the help they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Just before Christmas, we launched our first round of funding and are pleased that we are awarding funding to 36 organisations in need. Applications were focused on sustainability of services, with a modest number of applicants requesting laptops and equipment (generally, “remote working costs”) that go some way to show the permanence of the home-working situations most of us are in.
Many of the successful applicants will be using these funds to digitise their services and ensure that they are able to continue for as long as needed online, whilst still reaching and supporting their beneficiaries in a way that is responsive. With further funding, our hope is that we can launch a second round to support even more organisations in their recovery from the pandemic.
We had a total of 206 applicants for funding, many of whom required assistance which could be better provided by matching them with a private sector volunteer in the relevant business area. We are therefore now looking at how we can support these providers through the volunteering arm of the Programme. We urgently need new private sector partners to join us who can contribute (in order of priority):
- IT/tech equipment such as phones or laptops;
- Website building and development, cloud based infrastructure support and cyber security;
- CRM and database support; and
- All other business areas and additional funding.
As a matter of priority, we need partners to join us who may be able to donate IT/tech equipment such as phones or laptops which our providers urgently require in order to bring their services online in light of the most recent national lockdown and the continued restrictions which will ensue. So many of these providers offered only face-to-face services before the pandemic, and have been unable to shift their services to a digital platform as they lack the funds and/or capability to do so. This means that those already facing the harshest of health inequalities may now miss out on the vital support being offered by these providers.
We are also particularly looking for partners who can offer support with website building and development, cloud based infrastructure support, cyber security, and databases. This is so that the providers who have been awarded funds for domain purchases and web hosting services are able to utilise those funds.
We continue, of course, to welcome with open arms any new private sector partners who wish to join us and offer funds or volunteering minutes in any business area, as we will soon have many more providers with diverse needs joining the Programme.
Many thanks in advance for your support. Together, we will continue to fight this virus, and to strive for mental health equality in society.
Many thanks from All at The Association