Coronavirus / COVID - 19 update for the VCSE Organisations 3rd April 2020

Halton and St Helens VCA

If you need a contact for our volunteering portal and volunteering during the Covid-19 response across both Boroughs it’s Claire Redford-Kerr

If you need a contact for the Covid-19 response in St Helens it’s Annie Lawrenson

If you need a contact for the Covid-19 response in Halton it’s Matthew Roberts

You can also contact Sally Yeoman our Chief Officer for issues in both Boroughs. She will also be picking up LCR work with VS6 colleagues

For comms/website and information queries contact  or

Our phones will be temporarily redirected and you will be able to contact us by using our usual numbers 01744 457100 / 01928 592405

Below is the latest news / updates for VCSE organisations in Halton and St Helens 

If you want to find out what is happening with local services take a look on our homepage 


Letter of support from Conor McGinn MP

Support for the sector from local MP 

Click here to read the letter of support from Connor McGinn MP 


The Silent Solution - Message From St Helens Police

Merseyside Police is committed to keeping everyone safe but know there are a number of vulnerable people living in our communities who will be additionally concerned about the prospect of staying at home for a number of reasons - including those who have been the victims of domestic abuse.

They are encouraging everyone to become familiar with options within the 999 System - a part of the 999 system allows for people who are not free to speak, but are able to either make a noise or press 55, which alerts the BT operator to the fact that you need help, and they can then connect to the police. The system enables all 999 callers, to access support in the manner described, it is important that a noise is made or that 55 is pressed. For example if you can only make noise, such as tapping the handset, coughing, crying or even talking to the offender, then these actions will alert the attention of the BT operator.

The full message can be found:

DWP update 2020420

High streets begin to receive £22 billion coronavirus boost, with grants of up to £25,000 already being paid into bank accounts of high street businesses. 
Sanctions (This is temporary during the Coronavirus situation) 

  •  Given the rapidly changing situation, they have taken the decision to temporarily suspend the requirement for face-to-face Jobcentre Plus appointments from 19 March for all claimants in UC, JSA, ESA and IS. They will continue to receive benefits as normal and they will not be sanctioned for not taking part in appointments with Jobcentres.
  • Recognising the need for staff to focus on the processing of claims, they will not be checking conditionality compliance regarding work preparation, looking for and being available for work for the next three months. Claimants won’t receive any new sanctions if they are unable to meet these commitments. This means that claimants are not expected to contact Jobcentre Plus about their commitments while this temporary suspension is in place, unless they are declaring a change of circumstances or they require support.
  • They would, however, like to encourage claimants to continue to prepare and look for work where it is safe to do so. These are difficult times, however, new jobs are being created. Retailers have announced tens of thousands of new jobs in response to the coronavirus outbreak and claimants are encouraged to explore these opportunities and others, where able to do so. Where possible, they will continue to offer support to our claimants through their online journal.
  • Claimants who have a sanction can apply for hardship payments to cover their most essential needs. Any other elements of UC, or other passported benefits in legacy, that they are entitled to will also continue to be in payment during their sanction. They continue to review their policies as the situation evolves. 
  • Claimants who have an open-ended sanction and who want to re-comply to bring it to an end should contact their Work Coach through the journal if they are claiming UC, or by phone if they are claiming ESA or IS.  

 Reminder to read for regular updates click here 



View the latest webinar on Coronavirus (COVID-19) entitled  – helping employers to support employees, click here to watch recording 

Tesco Bags of Help

Community groups and local organisations that are currently supporting vulnerable residents.
Tesco Bags of Help is responding to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis by setting up a new short-term fund to support local communities. Due to the need to respond quickly to the emergency we have created a streamlined application process and payment process to make it easier to get funds distributed quickly. If your application is successful the fund will provide a single payment award of £500 to organisations who are supporting vulnerable groups. The programme is set up to support organisational need in this time of crisis rather than fund specific projects.

Click here for information 


Association of British Insurers

Information about car insurance from Association of British Insurers relating to volunteers and volunteering

Click here 

If you have volunteering requirements please register them here 

and also encourage people wanting to help out to do that safely by registering here 


If you'd like to sign up for your own copy of the daily update, please follow the link below and sign up for our ebulletin:

Get In Touch

Halton & St Helens VCA 

Halton Office: 01928 592 405
St Maries
Lugsdale Road

St Helens Office: 01744 457100 
2nd Floor Beacon Building
College Street
St Helens
WA10 1TF



Halton & St Helens VCA is an infrastructure organisation that provides advice, information and development support services to voluntary, community, not-for-profit and faith organisations and volunteers in the Boroughs of St Helens and Halton.