What is the VCS Emergencies Partnership?

Primary interest
Voluntary sector

Reading Voluntary Action is the Thames Valley liaison lead for the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership. This article is a guide to the partnership and how you can request support from it.

What is the VCS Emergencies Partnership?

The VCS Emergencies Partnership is made up of a range of organisations within the sector and co-chaired by the British Red Cross and NAVCA. It aims to improve coordination at national and local levels before, during and after emergencies, helping people prepare, respond and recover. The VCS Emergencies Partnership is currently responding to the evolving Covid-19 crisis. Longer-term, the partnership’s goal is to establish a framework of response for future local or national emergencies.

The VCS Emergencies Partnership works to improve connections between the local front line and national bodies to better meet needs in an emergency. In the most recent VCS Emergencies Partnership bulletin, Director Jehangir Malik explains:

We know that local VCS are amongst the first to respond in an emergency and this response is often ‘challenging and complex’ as this Third Sector article explores. We’re hearing that many are still fatigued from responding during the last spike in cases. That’s why we are working hard to facilitate better connections between  the local front line and the national bodies. The Emergencies Partnership never looks to replace existing systems that
work, but we recognise the added impact that closer connections can have. Our co-chair, Jane Ide, has written about the crucial role charities played in responding to the coronavirus.

How can my organisation or community group request support in an emergency?

There are times when there is not enough local capacity to provide the support needed in an emergency. The VCS Emergencies Partnership aims to fill that gap. If local councils for voluntary service, local resilience forums and local authority hubs cannot provide the support a local organisation needs, the VCS Emergencies Partnership can step in to facilitate provision of that support. Read more and request support here.

What support has the VCS Emergencies Partnership given so far?

One example is a collaboration between the British Red Cross, Fareshare and Re:Act in the South West, which has prevented people falling deeper into poverty. Fareshare and Re:Act successfully collaborated to deliver food 2 days a week from Bristol to Exeter, which has provided 16 tonnes of food for frontline charities. British Red Cross provided 10 volunteers one day a week for 7 weeks, which supported the delivery of c. 220k meals across the South West. British Red Cross supported 8 pop-in food hubs by providing collection hub space at their Exeter site. One of the brokers involved commented:

Food insecurity was an issue for many prior to the coronavirus crisis. The last few months have exacerbated already fragile situations for people. Being able to get the basic need for food met will be for many the reason they do not fall deeper into more complex issues relating to poverty.

How is the VCS Emergencies Partnership funded?

The VCS Emergencies Partnership will receive £4.8 million in funding from the Department of Health and Social Care, to help strengthen the voluntary sector’s response to coronavirus and future emergencies. This funding will be used to improve coordination across the voluntary and community sector through:

  • a network of regional hubs to provide additional capacity to the VCS when demand outstrips supply at a local level
  • a national cell to match and coordinate demand for volunteers across the country, and
  • a new data platform that pools sector-wider understanding of unmet need across the UK and informs a more effective response to emergencies.
Further information
Job alert

The VCS Emergencies Partnership is currently looking for an Equality Lead for a 3 month secondment in October to December. See the vacancy here. Closing date for expressions of interest 7 October 2020.