Starting as a small charity in 1985, Help & Care has grown into an organisation that promotes dignity and independence for all people, particularly those in later life.

With 30 staff in their Bournemouth head office and around 100 out and about in the community they had to completely change the way they delivered their services when lockdown started.

Collaboration with their partners, including the local clinical commissioning group and primary care network, has been key to helping them continue to support their communities in new and innovative ways.

To tell us their story and share lessons for other charities, we're joined by Mark Sharman, Chief Executive, Help & Care. Watch the videos below to hear Mark explain more as he answers:

Each video is supported by a transcript.

How has your charity adapted to the COVID-19 crisis?

  • Video transcript

    How have you adapted to the COVID-19 crisis?

    So in the first week of lockdown we worked closely with a social enterprise in the South West called Cosmic and Cosmic delivered online training to all our staff in using Microsoft teams. That was the key thing. Making sure people got the kit and the skills to actually operate. 

    The other thing was having conversations with our funders early on. Making those connections with them about what they wanted us to be doing. We have quite a big contract with a commissioning group and early on they said 'forget about all your key performance indictors, do what you think is best with your partners'. It was really refreshing that there was that ability to do that. Then with all our contracts we made sure we talked to our funders early doors about how we could maintain what we do but in a different way.

    I think the really important thing to us was about governance during this time. We have our normal quarterly board meetings and the like but we've now been having monthly meetings and with their agreement we shelved our normal business format into something different.

    We talked about eight things:

    1. what we're doing about safeguarding
    2. how we maintain the safety and welfare of our staff
    3. what's our business continuity
    4. how's our money
    5. how do we refocus our work
    6. how do we communicate 
    7. how to keep the wheels of governance turning

    And importantly right at the beginning we actually started to work on what's going to be the legacy of this. So rather than getting immersed in the here and now, also saying what are we going to learn from this as we go. What's the legacy of that both organisationally and also in our service delivery. 


What have you learnt from the crisis?

  • Video transcript
    What have you learnt from the crisis?

    We've been really clear that we're not going back to work, we're going forward to work. I think that's quite an important strapline.

    It's reaffirmed the importance that collaboration is key, innovation is key, keeping things personal is key but also for us it's made us ask questions about social justice. It's a really key part of this as the whole pandemic has really exposed the inequalities that exist in our communities. We've got a role as a service delivery organisation but fundamentally we are a social enterprise and a charity and we have a role to speak up for those people.

    It's really played up the value of local organisations, local relationships and collaborations with local authorities, primary care, the NHS and other voluntary community organisations. It's strengthened our relationship with our sector locally and got rid of some of that competition rubbish. People have understood that the collaboration between us is far more important than that race for tendering against each other.

Survive. Adapt. Thrive.

Explore more actions to survive, tools to adapt and strategies to thrive during and after the Covid-19 crisis. Use the links below or get an overview of the resources available now

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Monica Brown shares her tips for writing a good grant application (5 min watch).

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How charities are adapting to Covid-19

Susan Pinkney shares our research into the ways charities are innovating (3 min watch).

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Nailing and communicating your mission statement

Beth Clarke on how to get your mission across to donors (5 min watch).

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