2. COVID-19: Help for Communities

Let’s all help to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on communities, especially for those who are the most vulnerable.


The potential consequences and disruption of COVID-19 on our communities is a growing concern and businesses are acting to mitigate the negative impact. Income to the voluntary sector will be severely challenged by this crisis, caused by postponed events and cancelled meetings with prospective funders alongside disruption to previously planned fundraising activity. This Business Response Network Hub has been developed to provide a range of support to communities.

Support available


Find out more or volunteer to help

Other support

How business can support communities

  • Charity Partnerships – Business in the Community can guide you on how to do this and assist with helping you to identify the most relevant charities. A great opportunity to motivate and engage your entire staff team in a way that will make a real and tangible difference to people’s lives. Contact hilary.hanberry@bitcni.org.uk
  • Adapt methods for volunteering – with traditional volunteering being cancelled business needs to deliver ongoing support differently or respond to the community need flexibly. You can register your support now.
  • Donations – support the voluntary and community sector with financial or resources donations
  • Reviewing products and services – to provide additional support for those that are particularly vulnerable at this time

Great work happening in the community

Business can provide valuable flexibility in responding to the needs of vulnerable communities.

  • Lidl Northern Ireland has implemented priority shopping hours from 9am-11am for elderly customers across its 39 stores and Asda has implemented a limit on a number of items that can be purchased to make sure everyone can get what they need
  • Iceland introducing elderly only shopping hours
  • SPAR NI has introduced taped areas on its floors to ensure social distancing
  • Chemist are admitting one person at a time into their stores
  • M&S stores opening for NHS staff only
  • Some local petrol stations offering reduced priced petrol to those frontline NHS / Care workers in Belfast
  • Tesco Knocknagoney applauded all NHS / Care workers when they entered the store
  • Age NI has a video to show how you can help the local community. Also downloadable neighbourly volunteering postcards to give out
  • BBC Licence Fee: BBC chiefs and the government have postponed plans to end free TV licences for the over-75s for two months during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Network Resilience: EU is urging Netflix and YouTube to lower the resolution of streams in order to reduce network demands across the continent. Ofcom is also working with providers to combat this.
  • Phone data: it will not cost anyone any data to use the NHS website.
  • Keeping children entertained at home: Joe Wicks (AKA The Body Coach) will be doing online PE lessons every weekday morning at 9am.
  • Mini print is offering free copies of poster / leaflets for those who are at high risk
  • Lidl Northern Ireland has a large recruitment drive for people who have lost their jobs recently due to the Coronavirus
  • One-off grant of £250 available for hospitality workers
  • Crumlin Road Jail is opening their car park free of charge for NHS staff for Mater Hospital.
  • ASDA donating 5 million pounds to support food charities FareShare and Trussell Trust
  • Rishi Sunak revealed the Government would be increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year, and raising the working tax credit basic element by the same sum
  • B&M stores are launching a £1 million donation across 670 stores to local foodbanks. Every single store will provide a local foodbank with a £1,500 donation, so they can buy essential groceries, cleaning goods and toiletries. Go to bmstores.co.uk/news to apply.
  • Tesco has offered 12 weeks of paid leave to staff who are over the age of 70, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant.
  • Power NI has reduced its minimum top-up amount temporarily, from £15 to £5, to help to ease financial pressures on customers.
    Customers can top up:

Information from the Communities Minister and her Department

We are also sharing stories of what our members and doing and how. If you have any great examples of how your business has supported voluntary and community sector partners, please do let us know. Contact Suzi McIlwain at suzi.mcilwain@bitcni.org.uk or share your news at www.bitcni.org.uk/share-your-news.