Adapting our programmes in response to COVID-19

I wrote last week about how we were approaching our response to the crisis and outlined a set of principles which are underpinning our approach.

Across our programmes we continue to be led by the needs of our partners and we seek to respond to how the crisis is impacting on their work. As a result of this we have agreed a number of changes to how the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) and Local Access will develop.

The four sector partners in our EDP have been revising their plans in light of the crisis. The EDP is designed to help organisations to explore and develop new enterprise models, supported with a range of interventions from grants to peer learning and specialist financial expertise. Cohorts of organisations are expected to participate in the programme for around a year.

For most organisations this will not be the time to begin to develop new enterprise models, although some will have opportunities to respond to the crisis in this way. The four sector partners are therefore approaching this year’s cohorts more cautiously, recognising that the assessment process may be a challenge at this time. Applicants for new cohorts will have more time to submit and decisions will be made later in the Spring. For those who have already submitted applications, the sector partners will work with successful applicants to understand how the crisis may have impacted on plans, revise them as necessary, and only take forward organisations for whom this is now the right intervention at the right time.

The homelessness and youth sector partners will also work closely with the cohorts of organisations which were supported through the pilot year of the EDP in those two sectors to provide bespoke support where needed and to also seek to identify which of those business models supported are particularly impacted by the crisis and where more systematic support might be required.

The pace of development in each of the six Local Access places is also being driven by the local partners. At this stage two of the places are keen to proceed with their plans quickly, and four are likely to delay in some ways as they respond to the crisis in their communities. However we remain responsive, recognise that this is a rapidly changing situation, and if local partners want to either accelerate again or slow the place then we will adapt as necessary.

With the changes to the pace of the EDP and Local Access, we will now probably spend less on these programmes this year than we anticipated. Over the last week we have been looking closely at the implications of this on the spend from our endowment, as well as the impact of the crisis on the risks within the endowment itself. From this we have sought to identify how much flexibility we have in spend over the coming months to address the crisis more directly. We are currently working closely with our delivery partners across all of our programmes to identify the best way to target this support and what significant gaps are emerging in the support for the sector and where we can most effectively fill those gaps. We will provide more detailed updates as these plans crystallise.

Throughout this time we have also been working closely with partners in BSC and SIB around the development of the liquidity facility and supporting the broader case to government about the need for significant grant support for the sector.

As always please get in touch with any views on our response to the COVID-19 crisis.