Back in 2020, Hunts Forum worked with Huntingdonshire District Council to set up a network of Recognised Organisations to support local communities through the Covid-19 crisis.
What was a COVID-19 Recognised Organisation?
A COVID-19 Recognised Organisation was a volunteer-involved organisation that had a governing structure (CIO, CIC, Charity, Timebank, Association or Town/Parish Council) that was in place before the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic. This means that they already had policies and procedures to safeguard those both supporting and being supported by the group. They also could take on more volunteers within their organisations and have the resources to support those mutual aid groups surrounding them therefore they were in a position to support the public in the short term.
What did a COVID-19 Recognised Organisation do?
A Recognised Organisation supported their community – this could be an estate, village, town, or a few roads within Huntingdonshire.
All COVID-19 Recognised Organisations took enquiries and referrals from the district council surrounding neighbourhoods and then cascaded them down to suitable volunteers to conduct that request. Each organisation worked slightly differently depending on their community’s needs, the organisation’s make-up, and the number of volunteers.
Why did Hunts Forum set up COVID-19 Recognised Organisations?
As the epidemic developed, those Mutual Aid groups set up in good faith started to lose momentum or run into difficulties. Therefore, Hunts Forum identified that many active organisations could step in and support where needed for the short term. The mark was created to identify those membership groups working with and supported by Hunts Forum.
What did the COVID-19 Recognised Organisations get out of the mark?
It makes sense when an organisation is continuing its work to link up with others. Therefore, they received regular online catch-ups where information could be cascaded down and issued, talked through and supported.
Those groups also received a logo to promote their mark and were featured on the Huntingdonshire District Council website. They were also linked with HDC for other forms of communication with the council and direct support in their efforts in the COVID response.
The benefits of becoming one of Hunts Forums RO’s for our organisation has been huge. The accreditation has opened doors has bolstered the service we have provided, giving us access to a much wider platform, including much-needed funding streams. It has allowed us to expand this service and incorporate other professional organisations that now have a much better understanding of what CARESCO is capable of achieving. These are links I am keen to maintain and develop going forward. It has also given the community an additional level of security, reassuring them that everything CARESCO has set up regarding our RO status has been kept to a high standard. It’s amazing how that accreditation suddenly levels us up.
Hunts Forum and all its staff have been invaluable during the last 12 months. The support you have shown us, encouragement and guidance has been excellent. In what was a really scary and uncertain time for small charities and organisations like CARECSO. You gave us a voice and allowed us to stand up and do what we do best which is to help the community.
Being a Recognised Organisation by Hunts Forum during the COVID pandemic has been instrumental to support Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust to:
- Assure residents in uncertain times they could trust RNT
- Let volunteers new to RNT feel they were joining a trusted organisation
- Provide COVID specific support for Hunts Forum
- Enable RNT to become part of a network of organisations that supported each other and shared ideas etc.
- Open doors to other charities/organisations/statutory bodies/councils
- Provide a direct route to the ‘right people’ in the ‘right place’ making crisis response faster
- Increase the profile of RNT in our community and with councils and other bodies
- Open new channels of communication
- Build working relationships with GPs
- Enable our volunteers and staff to be vaccinated as ‘essential workers’.
- Discover new funding opportunities
- Give RNT, our volunteers and community a voice which we hope will continue to be heard far into the future.
We feel that without the RO status our COVID support would not have been as successful. The links we have made with HDC in particular have been invaluable and long may this relationship last. Moving forward RNT would definitely want to be part of some sort of replacement accreditation if it continued to have the same benefits provided to us as RO status.
Anna, Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust
‘The value I have gained from being an RO is the support from Hunts Forum, the meetings with other groups to create connections and learn from their experiences providing the same kind of community support as I am. The accreditation of being an RO has given us recognition with the district and county councils which has enabled us to be trusted by the larger organisations and therefore opens doors with them and with other larger organisations beyond this.’
What did the COVID-19 Recognised Organisation achieve?
The COVID-19 Recognised Organisations were hugely successful in their COVID response at the time the pandemic hit, and during the recovery. See the infographic below and article written in August 2020, which looks at the impact these few organisations made. Celebrating the Work of Recognised Organisations | Hunts Forum