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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

730 days later...

This opinion piece is about 2 years old

As it winds up, Beth Mukushi reflects on the challenges and the successes of SCVO's Third Sector Coronavirus Information Hub

It’s been exactly two years since I set up a regular coronavirus standup meeting with colleagues from across SCVO. 

We gathered around our webcams each day as the pandemic lurched from one unprecedented situation to the next.  

Collectively we steered SCVO’s pandemic response, doing all we could to support organisations and advocate for the sector. The Third Sector Coronavirus Information Hub was the public face of our work.  

Although the Hub was hosted on SCVO’s website, it was informed and made successful through a collective effort. Funders, TSIs (Third Sector Interfaces), national intermediary organisations and others came together to highlight problems, interpret guidance and award emergency funding. 

We worked hard to strike a difficult balance with the hub, making sure it was comprehensive enough to help the majority of voluntary organisations. But not going into so much detail that it felt unmanageable.  

“The SCVO website is one of the most helpful resources to us…every time I come to the site you've already thought of it and it's really reassuring- I've been forwarding to people left right and centre and I really do appreciate it." – Helen Bain, YTAS 

Last week we held what we hope will be our final coronavirus working group meeting. We took the decision to wind down the Information Hub, and fold future content updates into our core information. 

A review of the traffic to the hub tells me that this is the right decision - people are now familiar with risk assessments and building ventilation. Funders are no longer in emergency mode, and most organisations have implemented hybrid working policies.  

I am glad we have reached this point, and personally I am overjoyed to be meeting colleagues in real life. I was in dire need of an energy boost and a gossip over a cuppa.   

But the Coronavirus Info Hub has been a big part of my life over the past two years, and before we close it down, we would like to take a moment to run through some of the greatest hits:  

  • 1.25 million pages were viewed in the two years from March 2020 to March 2022. 
  • The most popular content was about funding – receiving 75% of all traffic.  
  • Other key topics were coronavirus restrictions (10% of traffic), employee support (10% of traffic) and digital change (5% of all traffic). 
  • Eight funders, 250 grant assessors, 32 infrastructure organisations, 48 business advisors and the Scottish Government came together in a unique collaboration to award emergency funding.  
  • £75 million of emergency funding was awarded – the information hub was the single entry point for applications, assessment, awards and monitoring of grants.
  • The hub sections were reorganised five times to respond to the changing environment (thanks to the web team for over 40 redirects to help us all get to the right pages!) 
  • Traffic and queries received through the hub gave us insights into needs across the sector. We used this to develop hundreds of webinars - eg the Digishift and Opendoor channels - with help from our partners. 

We know that organisations have found new ways to work over the past two years and moved at a pace we rarely see.  

I’ve made new connections and been consistently amazed by the impact the voluntary sector has in all parts of Scottish society.   

The most positive message we can take from the pandemic will be remembering that we can achieve much more together than apart.  

Thanks to everyone who helped us make the Info Hub a huge success - and if you’re also desperate for a cuppa and a gossip, I hope to see you at The Gathering in June.

Beth Mukushi is head of support services at SCVO