Next Step Initiative

BLOG SERIES: Perspectives on the pandemic

More than a year on from the launch of the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal on 18 March 2020, we have asked our incredible funding partners – and some of their incredible grant-making partners – to share their unique perspectives on the pandemic.

Next Step Initiative Scotland National Emergencies Trust

Next Step Initiative

by Beltus Etchu, Chief Executive Officer

What difference has the pandemic made to the communities you serve?


The pandemic has highlighted generations of poverty experienced by the communities we serve. These include individuals. Several individuals from Black and other minoritised communities became unemployed, could not provide for their families. Poverty became prevalent (especially food and fuel). The hardship experienced, especially due to low levels of income, unemployment and underemployment experienced by these communities, made worse by the current pandemic, has contributed in no small measure to strains in relationships (especially marital), mental health and general wellbeing. Additionally, several BME led organisations who were keen to support members of the community, were also affected-struggling to remain sustainable whilst rising to the challenge of tackling the effect of the lock-down measures.


What impact did you see on your services as a result?


The funds we received as an intermediary partner has made a very positive significant impact on several fronts. Firstly, the individuals supported by the organisations we funded have attested to the positive impact on their lives. These include improved mental health and wellbeing, alleviation of food poverty, improved self-confidence, and resilience whilst others were able to establish businesses during the lockdown.


For the organisations we support, many were able to provide support to members of the community across Scotland. Some were able to recruit volunteers and seasonal workers, thereby creating employment which would not have been possible without access to funds.
As an organisation, we have also been able to improve our capacity to support the organisations we support. Again, this would not have been possible without the funds.


How has funding from the Coronavirus Appeal, via Comic Relief’s Global Majority Fund, made a difference?


Being able to provide grants to several Black and minoritised led community groups ensured that the necessary resources (financial and human) required to support individuals from these communities. For instance, whilst some organisations were concerned with mental health and wellbeing, others were looking ahead-focusing on recovery. Yet others were supporting individuals and local social enterprises towards recovery and sustainability, financial resilience, improved confidence as well as tackling social isolation. Furthermore, some of the organisations we funded took practical steps to provide food parcels and vouchers.


What challenges and/or opportunities do you foresee ahead?


The major challenge we envisage is that of sustainability. Firstly, the grants are short term in nature. To address entrenched inequalities and systemic issues, longer term funds will be paramount. Secondly, there is the need for more flexible use of funds. To ensure sustainability of these organisations, there is an urgent need for more flexible use of grants (especially for core costs) as well as multi-year grants. Otherwise, current gains will be lost in no time. It is good to see that funders are looking into the ‘colour of funds’, there is therefore the need to sustain the momentum.


The National Emergencies Trust partnered with Comic Relief in July 2020 to launch the Global Majority Fund. Find out more here.