COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update.

By now we are all well-aware that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will have a huge impact on our day-to-day lives over the coming weeks and possibly months.

Setting up and running a social enterprise can be a challenging journey at the best of times and we recognise that social entrepreneurs will need our support now more than ever.

So first of all we wanted to reassure you that we are open for business and ready to support you through whatever the coming months throw at us! We have been putting contingency plans in place to ensure that we can deliver our services as safely and flexibly as possible, so you can access our one-to-one support, workshops and enquiries service when you most need it.

With this in mind, we wanted to give you an update on what we have been doing to date and the changes that you can expect to see from us over the coming weeks and months: Following on from the Government’s most recent advice, the Firstport team is now working from home.

This measure is to protect both our clients and our staff, by minimising travel and potential crowded places. As a company and a team, we have the infrastructure and digital tools in place to carry out our day to day work as normal. However, you will notice some changes, for example:

  • All calls will be initially diverted to voicemail. Our team will check our Voicemail inbox regularly, so you should hear back from us within a few hours of your call. We also encourage you to use the contact form or the LiveChat function on our website.
  • We will conduct our one-to-one support via telephone or video conference facilities.
  • Our workshops will now be delivered as webinars. If you are already signed up for one of our upcoming workshops, you will be emailed a link to join the webinar in the coming days.
  • If you are due to deliver a pitch for one of our funds, we will make provision so both pitchers and panellists have the facility to dial-in
  • We are following all official government advice and we will update our policies and plans accordingly.

We don’t know how long this situation will last or what the coming months will be like, but we know it won’t be easy, so here are some of the ways we think we can help:

  1. If you are due to close off an award or a financial review for one of our funds, we can be flexible with timescales and deadlines. Please contact your Relationship Manager to discuss your individual circumstances.
  2. You may be wondering how to manage cashflows over the next few months or what to do regarding staff, etc. Please, please get in touch! Do not feel you have to sort it all out alone, our advisors are here to help.
  3. We are working closely with all our delivery partners to build flexibility and agility into our programmes to ensure we can continue to run them.
  4. Are you worried about your and your team’s ability to work remotely? Don’t know which tools to use? There are many organisations (see below) providing free support to help. SCVO’s John Fitzgerald is offering free 15 min calls to help charities with remote working, and Ross McCulloch from Third Sector Lab can help if you are looking into taking your support, information or advice services online using livechat, video calls, webinars, WhatsApp Business and other tech. Our own IT provider Illuminate IT is happy to provide free advice regarding tools and procedures to work from home safely and effectively.

These are unprecedented times and we are all working out the best way to carry on with our daily lives, please continue to follow official government advice and stay safe! If there are other ways you think we can help, please get in touch on info@firstport.org.uk.