Further details about the VCS EP

What is the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership?

The Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (Emergencies Partnership) is a government backed partnership between national and local voluntary and community sector organisations.

The Emergencies Partnership was formed based on learnings from the domestic crises of 2017, including Grenfell, and a sector-wide ambition to deliver a more coordinated response during emergencies.

The Emergencies Partnership is co-chaired by the British Red Cross and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA). Members include Business in the Community, British Red Cross, National Emergencies Trust, NAVCA, NCVO, Salvation Army, St John Ambulance, UK Community Foundations and Victim Support as well as government representatives from the Cabinet Office, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

While the current focus of the Emergencies Partnership is on responding to the evolving Covid-19 crisis, the partnership’s long-term goal is to strengthen connections across the voluntary and community sector, government and statutory agencies so that together we can deliver a more coordinated and effective response to emergencies.

When and why was the Emergencies Partnership set up?

The Emergencies Partnership was first established in 2018 following the domestic crises of 2017, including Grenfell and the Manchester Arena bombing. The partnership was born from a recognition that local organisations are almost always the first to respond to emergencies and an ambition from national charities to better support and collaborate with local voluntary organisations.

Prior to Covid-19, the partnership was a place for voluntary and community sector leaders to build better connections. More recently, the partnership began to shift towards a more operational model which will enable us to provide actionable insight and resource for organisations responding to emergencies.

Who are the members of the Emergencies Partnership?

Current members of the Emergencies Partnership are:

Business in the Community

British Red Cross

National Emergencies Trust



Salvation Army

St John Ambulance

UK Community Foundations

Victim Support

Between them, our members have access to tens of thousands of volunteers who work in communities across the country each day.

We are currently reviewing how our membership can flex and change depending on the nature of an emergency.

Can you share examples of how this new partnership is working in practice?

Since the set-up of the five multi-agency cells in May, and the rollout of their ‘request for support’ service, the Emergencies Partnership has been able to start lending additional capacity to organisations who are unable to meet needs through their existing local networks.

So far, we have:

  • Delivered almost 800kg of food to a foodbank in Leominster, after they saw a 487% increase in demand
  • Carried out Covid-19 tests at care homes across Lancashire
  • Delivered iPads to patients at St George’s Hospital, London
  • Helped direct patients at a medical centre in Nottingham, ensuring they maintained social distancing guidelines
  • Helped marshal pedestrians in Maldon as they reconfigure the high street to allow for social distancing

While the multi-agency cells haven’t been established for long, and although the first Covid-19 peak is now well behind us, the nature of the current crisis will change and needs will continue. Particularly as restrictions are lifted and volunteers return to their day-jobs, we believe the pressure on the voluntary and community sector will begin to increase.

Through its multi-agency cells, the Emergencies Partnership can offer additional capacity to local organisations who can’t fulfil a task through their existing local networks. So, don’t forget to reach out to us if you know of a local organisation struggling to meet growing demand.

You can find out more by watching this presentation about the VCS EP.