Submitted by Wisal Ibrahim Mohammed ABDELRASOUL on April 6, 2021
The Social Change Nest
ELSWICK COVID-19 MUTUAL AID EXPENSES POLICY (Adapted in part from Oxford Mutual Aid Expense Policy, also with thoughts from Arthur’s Hill and Elswick Mutual Aid) For a formatted version of this policy, please see the link below: https://tinyurl.com/ybzwvonz
Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid group was set up as a grassroots community response to the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020.
This policy details what expenses are deemed appropriate and how expenses are to be submitted and reimbursed within this group.
The aims of this policy are:
To safeguard people who interact with Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid by ensuring a public facing, transparent and accountable handling of finances To safeguard volunteers of Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid group, so that nobody faces financial hardship as a result of their involvement with the group
Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid group uses The Social Change Agency on the OpenCollective platform as our fiscal host to allow people to pay for things without exchanging cash or bank details between individuals.
Expenses will be paid for purchases made to support our efforts to bring aid to those in need during the Covid-19 crisis. Expenses will only be paid for purchases which directly contribute to our aid efforts, which is to say either (1) goods and services for those in need or (2) goods and services which facilitate Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid delivering that aid to those in need.
Expenses will include but are not limited to:
When we purchase food on behalf of self-isolating people, we will generally be reimbursed by them. However, this is not always possible, and we will be bringing aid to many people who are unable to pay for their own food. In such a case, whenever possible we will source donated food from larders, supermarkets, etc. for these people, but we will purchase food for those in need when necessary and if we are able.
When we purchase medicine on behalf of self-isolating people, we will generally be reimbursed by them. However, this is not always possible, and we will be bringing aid to many people who are unable to pay for their own medicine. Where possible we will attempt to access free medicine through the NHS, but we will purchase it for those in need when necessary, where we are able. Similarly, we will also purchase baby supplies on behalf of new parents, and we will generally be reimbursed by them. Where this is not possible, we will purchase food for those in need, again where we are able to.
- Other expenditure examples
Funds raised and donated to Elswick Covid 19 Mutual Aid might on occasions also be spent on other needs as and where appropriate. For example, on poster printing supplies to let people know we're here and what we can help with; on purchases of food and other supplies to donate to those in need in the community; possibly on funding an individual's utility bills if the individual is in dire need and has no other options in the short term (although people in such a situation will always be encouraged to pursue other options, such as contacting their utility provider to explore the support schemes available to them, and such cases will be considered by us with discretion and on a case-by-case basis, rather than guaranteed or funded as a standard and frequent measure); and on other general costs such as sanitising products for our temporary community larder. These are all examples - spending is not limited to these situations; we basically just try to use our funds to help our community.
General note about volunteers purchasing for others:
Each transaction requires its own expense claim, and claims are to be restricted to £30 or less. This is an upper limit (aligned to the maximum contactless card spend) to protect volunteers from financial hardship.
Our fiscal host, The Social Change Agency (SCA)through the Open Collective platform, requires at least three collective administrators to ensure someone is there at all times to approve expenses.
IT IS UP TO US TO DECIDE WHETHER THERE IS ANY ADDED CRITERIA FOR COLLECTIVE ADMINISTRATORS (e.g. mix of genders, inclusion of BAME), AND WHETHER WE WANT THE ROLE TO ALTERNATE IN THE GROUP AFTER A GIVEN PERIOD OF TIME.
All expenses need to be approved by a collective administrator before SCA releases the funds. All expenses and who approved them (except personal information contained on receipts) are public for transparency purposes. The SCA will process these every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Therefore, depending on the availability of both Elswick Covid-19 Hill Mutual Aid administrative volunteers, and the SCA’s designated days for financial processing, please be patient
HOW TO SUBMIT AN EXPENSES CLAIM
Expenses can only be paid if there are enough funds to cover the expenses within the collective. Expenses must be documented with a receipt or an invoice and approved by one of the collective administrators.
Volunteers who’ve bought shopping for people can submit a claim on the group’s funding page, for reimbursement. You must upload a valid receipt or invoice clearly showing the total amount, date, legal address, and what the payment is for (quote from Open Collective in italics - to see such formatting, please view this policy using the Google Drive link given at the start). Please note, the content you put in the description category will be listed publicly on the page, so please do not include information you wish to remain confidential in that text box. For these reasons it’s advised not to specify your full name here (for example, use a nickname). A collective administrator will verify the expense and approve it as soon as possible. Thereafter, the fiscal host, The Social Change Agency, will process the expense every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and release the funds to be reimbursed to the volunteer. People who’ve had shopping bought for them will be sent a copy of the receipt (e.g. photo) from the collective administrator. They can then transfer money to us through the funding page, therefore providing the funds for us to reimburse the volunteer who has bought the shopping.
^THIS ORDER OF EVENTS ENSURES VOLUNTEERS ARE REIMBURSED PROMPTLY WITHOUT HAVING TO WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO PAY FOR THEIR SHOPPING. HOWEVER, REIMBURSEMENTS CANNOT BE MADE WITHOUT SUFFICIENT FUNDS IN THE COLLECTIVE, SO IN THIS SCENARIO AN INITIAL FUND WILL BE NEEDED TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE.
Some important points:
PayPal and Stripe charge for their transactions, so please be aware that PayPal / Stripe transactions will cost more (a cost to be picked up in most cases by the person needing the shopping, although this can be discussed where particular discretion is needed) There is no charge for bank transfers, so direct bank transfer is the recommended method of transaction (i.e. you enter your bank details but these will not be publicly visible). There is currently no management / admin charge from the financial organisations who make this page possible, Open Collective and the Social Change Agency, as they have waived such fees for Covid-19 aid groups for now, but this may change in future (we’ll try to provide more information on that as we get it). In order to pay for shopping, or be reimbursed, you need to set up an account with Open Collective (but you only need an e-mail address and a name to do this. Please avoid providing your full name when setting up your account - it’s even recommended to use a nickname - as that name appears on our publicly viewable list of transactions, so that our spending can be transparent and accountable. When you submit a claim for reimbursement, however, you are of course required to provide your name as given on your bank account, but those details are not shown on the public list of transactions). Reimbursements will be made when approved and during the SCA accountant’s office hours, which are currently every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, so depending on the availability of both Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid administrative volunteers, and the accountant’s working days, please be patient.
A record of expenditure by Elswick Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group, and donations to its funding, are publicly updated with receipts where possible, and that is also viewable here. https://docs.google.com/…/1bX18s0an4mIqHyqmMMPBr2-nOi…/edit…
At the end of the pandemic, any remaining funds with the fiscal host will be donated to local anti-poverty charities (TBD).
The Social Change Agency FAQs: https://tinyurl.com/y7yjzg2y The Social Change Agency Expenses Guidance: https://tinyurl.com/ycch4c7x The Social Change Agency: General information on fiscal hosting through them: https://thesocialchangeagency.org/nest-supporting-new-movements/fiscal-hosting/
APPENDIX 1: HOW TO HANDLE CASH?
The decision to sign up to a fiscal host was to ensure data protection, transparency of financial transactions and safeguarding of volunteers and the community.
However, this does not address the reliance on cash that many people in the collective and community continue to have. This appendix of the expenses policy seeks to propose solutions that mitigate this barrier to access, whilst still ensuring transparency in our finances and safeguarding against fraud and abuse.
CASH HANDLING Digital payments are a preferred option to reduce spread of infection. If accepting cash, treat it as contaminated.
Disinfecting Money protocol by Queercare (hyperlink, new window)
Covid19MutualAid national website https://covidmutualaid.org/faq/#money (as of 29.03.20) Extract from Frequently Asked Questions on website: We strongly encourage volunteers not to accept credit/debit cards from people asking for help in order to buy resources on their behalf as this is a safeguarding risk. To reduce the risk of fraud, we recommend that wherever possible you do your shopping and come back with a receipt before asking for money from people in self-isolation. We also recommend that volunteers not make purchases larger than £30 for any one person or family in self-isolation. You should keep a central record of any payments made. There should also be a central record of any concerns raised in respect of payments, and make people aware of how they can raise a concern*. Where possible payments should be made by bank transfer or PayPal to minimise the risk of passing on the virus, but if that’s not possible then you can disinfect any cash you receive using soapy water. You should also: Ask them to give you a shopping list via phone call or text message before you go to the shop. Agree whether or not they will accept substitutions. Ask if they have any allergies or dietary requirements. *Raising concerns If you are concerned about any of Elswick’s transactions, expenses claims or related matters, please get in touch with our Elswick group at [email protected]
Cases where volunteers / help recipients cannot use the funding page
Extracts in Italics (to see such formatting, please view this policy using the Google Drive link given at the start). are taken from Making Payment factsheet of “Getting Started as a Community Response Volunteer V1.3” guide, published by Royal Voluntary Service. https://www.goodsamapp.org/assets/pdf/GettingstartedasaCommunityResponseVolunteer.pdf
We want you to remain safe and ensure both yourself and the individual you are supporting are protected. We recognise that people who are self-isolating may not have access to cash, in which case they would need to pay using their credit/ debit card. We would prefer to avoid using cash where at all possible. We do not permit for you to pay for items out of your own pocket if the individual does not have cash to give you nor do we want you to take anyone’s credit/debit card or PIN numbers to purchase items. In the situation where you are supporting an individual with purchasing goods we advise the following steps (our note: if supported by the supermarket in question).
Option 1 (Preferred Option)
Use telephone contact to agree what support is required and confirm to them that you will not be able to enter their home or make physical contact.
Our preferred method would be that after you have spoken to the individual and you have agreed what is required, you explain that you will gather items from the store and go to the customer service desk or manager within the store. Advise them you will ask a member of staff to ring them to confirm the below details in order to authorise and process the payment.
A code word – that will be suggested by the person you are supporting and used by the supermarket to make the individual feel more comfortable giving card details over the phone:
Expiry date Card security number Transaction amount and details
When you arrive to deliver the goods, knock on the door or ring the bell and step back to distance yourself at least 2 metres. You should not enter the individuals home and should remain at 2 meters away.
If the only option available is for the person you are supporting to pay in cash, then this method can be used, but it is not the preferred choice
Use telephone contact to agree what errand is required and confirm to them that you will not be able to enter their home or make physical contact.
If the only option is for the individual to pay by cash then advise them you will pay for the items and bring them the receipt so they can pay for the goods.
If you are unable to pay for the goods beforehand. Arrange with the individual to collect the money first. Please make sure you adopt the guidelines when supporting someone who is self-isolating.
When you arrive to collect money, knock on the door or ring the bell and step back to distance yourself at least 2 metres. When they open the door you can ask them to leave the money on the doorstep and collect this when the door is closed. You should not enter the person’s home and should remain at 2 meters away.
APPENDIX 2: Important guidelines for delivering and receiving supplies (in all cases)
Delivering supplies (Text in Italics from Newcastle Mutual Aid - to see such formatting, please view this policy using the Google Drive link given at the start).
RESTRICT CONTACT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: leave supplies on doorstep, ring bell, and text or call to say delivered. Stay at least 2 meters distance from people. wear gloves when handling supplies, bags, and money Wash your own hands with soap and hot water for 20 secs before and after every interaction Keep a regular eye on current advice and restrictions from gov.org.uk and NHS.
Receiving supplies (Text in italics from Preston City Council’s website - to see such formatting, please view this policy using the Google Drive link given at the start).
Ask the delivery person to leave the groceries outside your door and to keep a 2 meters distance from people.
You may want to request that the delivery person telephone when they are outside the property, this is so that the food is not left outside for periods of time.
All nonporous food packaging or containers should be disinfected with a suitable disinfectant spray or wipes before you store them away.
Thoroughly wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
All surfaces where your food bags have been placed should be disinfected as above.
Where suitable surface disinfectants are unavailable you should adequately clean any surfaces using detergent and hot water.
How do I get paid from a Collective?
How are expenses approved?
Is my private data made public?
When will I get paid?
The Social Change Nest