Coronavirus (COVID-19): supporting people at higher risk - survey of third sector organisations

This report examines findings from a survey of 530 third sector organisations in Scotland who supported people through the COVID-19 pandemic over March to August 2020.

7. Types of support provided to those at risk during the Coronavirus crisis

More than two thirds of responding organisations (68%) have been providing befriending and isolation support for people at risk. Almost half of responding organisations have been providing food support whether by supplying food boxes (45%) or arranging for delivery of food (48%). Figure 3 shows that considerable support has also been provided for medicine deliveries, financial support and support with energy bills and meters.

Figure 3: Types of support offered to those at risk (n=489)
Percentage of responding third sector organisations offering particular types of support.

Some respondents detailed support activities and services within these categories. For example, financial support included support with applying for benefits and jobs, advice on debt, direct financial support and assistance with applying for grants.

Almost half of responding organisations (49%) have been providing other types of support. Other support and services provided to individuals and households during Covid include: 

Information, advice and advocacy, including through helplines.

Transport, including for hospital outpatients and delivery of samples and Covid tests.

Digital support including IT equipment (e.g. ‘computer tablets to care homes, to enable residents to see and speak to relatives online’), help with connecting and processes to interact with others such as Facebook/Whatsapp/Zoom groups.

Mental health support services to help with anxiety and isolation.

Resources and support for carers including PPE, respite breaks and mental health support.

‘Kindness boxes’, activity packs and other resources to help with isolation, particularly for children.

Gardening and dog walking.

Home maintenance and items of furniture.

Many responding organisations have been supporting or working with other organisations such as:

Intermediary bodies helping smaller third sector organisations with direct funding, helping them to apply for funding, providing resources, providing or signposting to information, transportation and other logistical support, setting up Covid helplines and websites, sharing learning and good practice.

Businesses – ‘by helping them deliver goods (hardware shops, chemists, vets, food etc) to any member of the community’.

Offering use of their community spaces to other organisations for distribution of food and other essentials.

Seconding staff and volunteers to emergency response groups and other organisations.

Responding organisations have also been supporting key workers with childcare and summer camps, provision of PPE including masks, and bicycle maintenance.  While it is unclear how much of this is new since Covid, some respondents highlighted adaptations to their support services or expansions in their capacity:

‘All of our support services have been transformed during this crisis to provide alternative support utilising telephone support, online groups, information, activity packs, helpline support, telephone befriending etc.’

‘This was a combination of a usual service the NHS contracts us to deliver but we got […] funding  to increase the frequency and include some costs’.

Some respondents referred to fluctuating demand, particularly an intensive early period which, for some, declined over time:

‘The requirement for our services steeply declined as people found ways of shopping, chemists delivered etc.’



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