Yesterday England and Scotland were placed into new lockdown measures to curb the spread of coronavirus. Leaders in Wales and Northern Ireland had already announced similar measures in December.
This means that the whole of the UK is now under the tightest restrictions, much like those that came into force last March but with the key difference that support and childcare bubbles can continue.
For charities this means further pressures on the ability to fundraise, obstacles in delivering services and increased demands.
Here’s a reminder of what the rules are and where to go for further guidance.
Charity shops and all in-person fundraising cannot go ahead under the current requirements that people only leave the house for essential purposes.
While this will be a blow to many, last year charities were creative in adapting events to take place virtually or create new ways to engage with supporters.
Volunteering and supporting vulnerable people
Providing voluntary or charitable services, where it cannot be done from home, is a “permitted reason” to leave the house.
However, charities will also have to consider taking steps to protect volunteers, and be aware that some people will be sent letters telling them to shield again and may not be able to volunteer in the same way that they have been.
Volunteers will also be crucial to supporting people who are shielding while the NHS is under pressure and rolling out the vaccine programme.
The Royal Voluntary Service is actively recruiting volunteers to help people in their community with things like collecting prescriptions or shopping for those who cannot leave their homes. It has also created a new role as a steward for the vaccination programme
St John Ambulance volunteers are also preparing to support the NHS with the vaccination programme.
What help is available?
Today, Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, announced a £4.6bn package of support aimed at retail, hospital and leisure sectors, which may help some charities and social enterprises.
He has made one-off grants of between £4,000 and £9,000 are available to businesses forced to close.
A discretionary fund worth £594m in total has also been made available devolved administrations and local authorities.
Last year the furlough scheme was extended until the end of April. With schools closed to most children, it’s sensible to highlight than employers are able to furlough employees who are not able to work due to childcare commitments.
Links to further guidance
Government and regulators
The government’s full national lockdown guidance
Charity Commission for England and Wales - last updated on 22 December to add a section about mergers and collaborations
OSCR – the Scottish Charity Regulator
Charity Commission for Northern Ireland