COVID-19 Response

Given the fluid and changing nature of the situation we have assigned roles and a clear decision making process. For the purposes of this process the responsibilities are as follows:

    1. Scrutiny: lead trustee: check in and ensure good decisions are being made
    2. Oversight: Matt: ensure that this policy is compliant with current employment legislation, updated advice and guidance is provided for all staff, trustees are updated regularly and that a current risk assessment is in place
    3. Implementation: Imogen, Deborah, Rowan, Chris and Charlotte:
      1. Action is implemented in line with risk assessments and team agreements
      2. Any changes are taken back to the team for discussion.
      3. Inform their line manager if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with others displaying symptoms
      4. Observe all social distancing, hygiene and infection controls in the workplace, and ensure that hazards and incidents are correctly reported.

Within the workplace POP is further reducing the risk by:

  • Restricting office working
  • Using back to back or side on working layouts
  • Ensuring that each person has their own equipment
  • Initiating a clean surfaces policy to help keep the risk of infection low.

Our main aim is to ensure that staff, volunteers and trustees under this policy are met and that they are treated fairly.

Decisions will be made on the basis of:

  • Government guidance
  • HSE guidance
  • Plymouth City Council Public Health advice and guidance
  • Individual staff circumstance
  • Effective fulfilment of POP+s mission and purpose
  • Funders requirements
  • Availability of safeguarding measures.

How decisions will be made:

  • Any new proposal will be taken to monthly team meetings
  • If there is disagreement/difficult judgement, it will be taken to the trustees for input
  • A plan will be put in place and implemented
  • It will be regularly reviewed in line with the roles and responsibilities set out in point 2.

The following are measures we can take in line with government guidance and in agreement with staff and trustees. They are grouped as follows:

  1. Home working
  2. Social distancing and hygiene in the workplace
  3. Shared premises
  4. Wellbeing and support
  5. Information and guidance
  6. Accident and incident reporting.

Homeworking (temporary)

There are measures to keep everyone safe, well and achieving at home.

  1. Regular opportunities to keep in touch with weekly calls and a weekly social drop in
  2. Availability for basic adjustments and equipment to be bought or replaced as required.
  3. Self assessment for safe working at home (link to HSE guide here)
  4. Check in during staff one to one meetings for work, but also health and wellbeing.
  5. Ensure that good data protection practices are in place, as required by GDPR.
  6. A WhatsApp group for out of hours communication.

Social distancing and hygiene in the workplace

These are measures to keep everyone safe, well and achieving in the workplace. Staff and volunteers must observe these at all times.

  1. There will be a shift system for office working set up in agreement with staff, specifying who will be working there between what hours on what days.
  2. Start and finish times and breaks will be staggered.
  3. There will be markers on the floor to help staff observe social distancing correctly at all times.
  4. Visitors will not be allowed to the offices until further notice and so virtual platforms will be used to hold meetings with trustees, volunteers, members, associates etc.
  5. Hand sanitiser and paper towels will be provided to support hygiene and to keep work areas clean.
  6. There will be regular reminders to staff for wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and water and the importance of proper drying of hands,
  7. Where possible remote working will replace face to face working until further notice.
  8. Workstations will be moved if possible, to implement back to back or side on working.
  9. Screens will be installed to prevent the spread of infection.
  10. Staff will be provided with separate equipment to enable them to work safely
  11. Sanitising equipment will be provided to be used with a ‘clean as you use’ process in place.
  12. Staff will wear PPE issued to them when using public transport.
  13. There will be disposable face masks available in the office in the event that first aid needs to be administered.
  14. A ‘clear surface’ policy will be implemented to keep surfaces free of objects, which will make them easier to keep clean. Staff will be required to wipe down their desk area and equipment with antibacterial wipes provided ag the end of the working day.
  15. Staff using the office will bring their own utensils and food/drink items with them and take them home again at the end of office working.
  16. Shared equipment will be cleaned using a ‘clean as you use’ process and sanitising equipment will be provided. This includes such items as printers, shredders, kettle and coffee makers etc.
  17. Taking receipt of goods delivered ; have specific drop off points at the main door. Nominated individuals to collect the packages. Additional manual handling training. Minimise contact with delivery person in line with guidance.
  18. Ensure that clear signage is in place to help people know what is expected of them.

Shared Premises

These are measures to ensure staff feel safe and are able to work well and achieve in the workplace.

  1. Prior to staff returning to the workplace POP organise a deep clean and undertaken a site specific risk assessment. This will involve common areas of work, such as door handles, handrails and keypads, together with shared work equipment.
  2. Ensure that staff know how to make use of other facilities, such as toilets, particularly in a shared premises.
  3. Arrange for a deep clean of the office once a week and for bins and waste paper baskets to be emptied twice a day.
  4. Where possible, doors (excluding fire doors) to be left open to reduce the numbers of people touching door knobs etc.
  5. Taking receipt of goods delivered: have specific drop off points at the main door. Nominated individuals to collect the packages. Additional manual handling training. Minimise contact with delivery person in line with guidance.
  6. Ensure that clear signage is in place to help people know what is expected of them.

Information and guidance

These are measures to ensure that you get the information and guidance you need to remain safe, well and achieve whilst at work.

  1. Any changes to agreed office working rotas, when and where breaks happen, arrival and departure times from work, when staff need to clean parts of their work area and hygiene procedures will need to be communicated using Microsoft Teams and discussed at team meetings.
  2. Guidance on these measures will be updated in line with newest government advice.
  3. Trustees will be updated at monthly board meetings, even when there is no change, so that they can exercise their due diligence and governance roles effectively.
  4. The COVID-19 risk will also be updated at every board meeting, including new mitigating measures to be put into place and any revised likelihood or impact ratings. A copy of the specific risk and measures taken will be included with this guidance.

Wellbeing and support

This is an unprecedented time which can leave individuals feeling uncertain and seeking additional reassurance. These are measures to ensure appropriate levels of support for each individual staff member.

  1. A regular one to one meeting is held with all staff members once a week to talk through any concerns they may have about their current working set up or returning to an office environment. This meeting can also be used to update them on what has been done, so that they perceive they are being listened to and their concerns alleviated.
  2. Where an individual has specific requirements for homeworking an individual risk assessment will be completed for that individual and measures taken to meet those needs. This may relate to software or hardware, for example.
  3. Remote working can be isolating, particularly for those unused to it or where it is for a protracted period of time. As well as regular one to one meetings, POP will also provide links and access to online resources to support people with their mental wellbeing and homeworking. all on Teams.
  4. If a staff member is shielded or clinically vulnerable, or is living with someone in those categories, then arrangements will be made to see how work from home can continue in a socially distanced way.
  5. POP will agree with staff members what work can be done from home and ensure that the technological support is in place to facilitate homeworking. This includes the issue of equipment to enable people to work remotely.
  6. POP will make optimum use of the existing meeting structure to ensure that team meetings, one to one meetings, informal catch ups etc. take place as scheduled. Where a staff member is in need of additional COVID-19 related support, this will be put in place.
  7. Remind all staff about keeping themselves up to date with government guidance on social distancing etc.
  8. POP must ensure that each staff member has a contingency plan so that key work can continue to be undertaken if an individual falls ill or has to self isolate.
  9. If a staff member needs to self isolate, they must inform their manager by phone as soon as possible, stay at home and follow NHS guidance. Likewise any staff member who is contacted by the NHS testing and tracing service must stay at home. The manager will immediately inform the rest of the team and any other member of the team in the office will be sent home and advised to follow control measures.
  10. Before any staff member returns to the office, they will be issued with an up to date copy of guidance for working in the office and have the opportunity to ask any questions of
  11. In the event that a person develops symptoms while at work they need to go home, if they are well enough to do so, or call 999 if they need to be taken to hospital. If the staff member is not well enough to make their way home independently then a taxi or NHS responder will be called.

Accident and incident reporting

POP is committed to the safety of its staff. In order to safeguard those working in the office, POP will undertake the following.

  1. Ensure that staff are adequately trained in first aid, safety and fire emergency procedures in the event of an incident at work while operating at reduced occupancy.
  2. Ensure that the reporting of incidents and accidents that are work related continue to happen where people are working from home.

Like any risk, the threat from coronavirus in the workplace needs to be assessed on a regular basis. To undertake this, it is important to consider what may cause harm in the workplace (identified as a hazard). This includes consideration of:

  • How people work and what equipment they use
  • What chemicals and substances are used
  • What safe and unsafe working practices exist
  • The general state of your premises.

The accident reporting log can help identify less obvious hazards, as can employee ill health records. Account also needs to be taken of non routine operations, such as office cleaning. This may occur more frequently given the ingoing risks posed by the COVID-19 environment.

When identifying hazards to health, such as handling equipment, working in the same office and social distancing, think of how staff members and others may be harmed by the hazard.

Then assess the risk:

  • Who might be harmed and how
  • What is already in place to control the risk
  • What further action is needed to control the risk
  • Who needs to carry this action out
  • When the action is needed by.

To control the risk:

  • Assess if it is possible to eliminate the hazard altogether
  • If not, explore how the risks can be further reduced by things such as
    • Job redesign
    • Organising work to reduce exposure to coronavirus infection
    • Identify and implement practical measures needed to work safely
    • Provide PPE and ensure it is worn
    • Put the controls in place.

Record your findings.

As POP employs 5 people, it has a duty under law to have a written policy in place, a robust risk assessment procedure and it must also record any significant findings. These include the specific hazard, who might be harmed and the controls in place to reduce the risks.

​​​​​​​Review the controls

POP will need to review the controls to assess their effectiveness and assess how changes in the office affect existing controls. This could be a new starter, a ne process or new equipment, for example. Finally the risk assessment record ad register must be updated with any changes that are made.

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More in this section

COVID-19 Response

As the coronavirus spreads and we all take measures to keep those most vulnerable safe we will have to adjust the way we work. POP is working with Plymouth City Council and other key partners to plan and respond to this. 

We are committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to support those people worst affected by this. We will see people directly affected through self-isolation and illness, but we will also see those affected by panic buying and the economic impact on people self employed or in precarious employment. 

We want to work with you to show how the people of Plymouth can come together and support one another through this. It is important to us that we stress that it is physical distancing and not social distancing. We must stay connected and increase social solidarity. 

Events are rapidly changing so for the moment we have the following messages: 

POP news

  • Our team of seven staff and seven associates have been liaising with people all over the city, to ensure that our mission – more relevant than ever – to build strong grassroots organisations, charities and social enterprises by supporting them to work together and take a lead role in creating change.
  • We have had over 50 people attend our Zoom “Play & Learn” sessions, ensuring that individuals are able to continue to host and ‘attend’ meetings, continuing their work, without (much) disruption.
  • POP continues to work with Our Plymouth – it’s role to match volunteers with organisations that need them, even more relevant in these current times.
  • We have set up a Facebook page dedicated to grassroots organisations across Plymouth to let us know about critical issues, share support with one another and connect. Join the group here.

Plymouth VCSE Survey

POP has carried out a survey of the VCS sector to quickly try and identify the challenges – financial and otherwise – that members are facing and to establish how we can best offer support. 

Plymouth VCSE survey – April 2020 – Summary

POP Response to Plymouth VCSE survey – April 2020  

POP ideas

POP ideas’ training workshops have now been moved online.

The POP ideas team are still available to support you in helping to draft funding bids. Funding application processes can take anything between 3-12 months, so now is a good time to apply for funding so that you can be looking to deliver in the Autumn and onward.

POP has been liaising with the City Council (including its Public Health Department and Adult Social Services); community organisations, such as Nudge Community Builders in Stonehouse; STARS (Stoke Traders and Residents Association); The Hoe Neighbourhood Forum and Whitleigh Big Local to help create and support what are loosely being called Neighbourhood Care Networks, maximising local expertise to support neighbours-in-need.

But what makes these networks unique is the intent to combine ‘community experts’ – people with a real understanding of where they live and the people that live there – with those employed in a ‘professional’ role who work in the same area, such as, district nurses, social workers, ‘faith’ leaders, GPs and police officers along with local volunteers. This collaborative approach ensures that a person, at risk or in need, benefits from a concerted effort to give them the care they need.

Click here to find out more


Plymouth groups can claim up to £250 from our £250 a POP fund for incidental costs since 16 March. Click here to find out more.

If your organisation is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and you receive funding from us, we are committed to the same statement issued by other funders – click here to read more.

Positive People

In order to support people we are running daily meet-ups on Zoom covering various topics and having general check-ins. These tend to be fun and informal and a place to share concerns, bust some coronavirus myths and gain some skills to help battle our loneliness, anxiety and anger in lockdown. Sessions include:

  • Breathing meditations
  • Simple group exercise class
  • Games galore (charades, name that tune, quizzes, pictionary…)
  • Self development workshops
  • Happy memory sharing
  • Skills sharing (e.g. photography)

We are also calling more vulnerable people on a regular basis to check-in but also signpost to help when needed. If you know anyone who might benefit from joining in please call Chris Maccullie on 07951 313163 or email

The Plymouth Good Neighbours Scheme will see the Council join forces with community groups and charities across the city to provide a central place for people to put their hat in the ring to help.

The Council will collect names and skillsets and then help groups by distributing volunteers with the right skills to right places at the right time, directly and through the many great voluntary sector organisations in the city, and key partners such as the Plymouth Octopus Project and Our Plymouth.

Caring for Plymouth is an alliance between the Council, Livewell Southwest and a large number of VCS organisations. It will ensure that Plymouth’s most vulnerable are provided with emotional support, shopping, medicine collection, support with paying bills and accessing money. Staff providing the service will have had background checks to provide added piece of mind.

In addition, the Caring for Plymouth Support Hub will support other vulnerable older and disabled people who are affected by Covid 19 and who have no-one to support them to maintain their independence.

Covid-19 Mutual Aid Local Groups are small groups of people setting up independently in communities to support vulnerable people in their local area through the outbreak. Support could involve activities from running errands to the shops, to making phone calls, to providing a friendly voice of reassurance. Lots of existing local charities and community groups are putting in place plans to ramp up trained volunteer support. Click here to find your local group, or click here for resources on starting up your own group.



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