Step 2 of 5: PRIORITISE

Last updated: 6th July 2020, Checked 4th Nov 2021
Diagram showing 'prioritise' highlighted


Charities' sustainability is threatened by reduced staff and volunteer capacity, rapidly evolving client needs and an insecure funding landscape. With limited capacity, organisations must prioritise their most critical services to meet people's needs.

Establish the risks

What to do

  1. Determine risk level to members if needs are not met
    - Consider factors such as sanctions, homelessness, refusals, mental health crisis.
    - Rank each risk from low to high.
    - Read Refugee Action's how-to guide on how to conduct a risk assessment.

Decide which face-to-face services to deliver

As face-to-face interactions present higher risk of COVID-19 infection, the most important services will need to be prioritised. Venue capacity and social distancing will play a role in dictating frequency and intensity. 

Refugee Action’s how-to guide on delivering face-to-face services safely discusses how to assess capacity.

What to do

  1. Determine priority level for each service
    This should be based on level of risk and location needs. Rank priority levels as high, medium or low.
  2. Fill in impact vs effort matrix
An effort-impact diagram
  1. Understand what other services are currently operating locally
    Identify what client needs other organisations are meeting and whether they can meet demand.
    - Establish if there are any organisations that you can partner with to deliver services more effectively.
    - Ensure you collaborate to avoid duplication of work and creating confusing pathways for clients.
  2. Review your consultation with staff and volunteers
    - Assess your capacity and resources to deliver the services you have identified as priorities.
    - Rank priority levels as high, medium or low.

Factors to consider

Plan for services that are flexible. They may need to move between remote and in-person delivery due to changing demand, your organisation's capacity and government rules.

Prioritise face-to-face delivery for activities or services which are particularly challenging by phone.

Determine accessibility needs

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected some people, particularly those with underlying health conditions at risk of contracting the virus.  This will determine their ability to access face-to-face services safely, and influence what services are prioritised.

What to do

  1. Ask yourself the following questions:
    How will the following factors influence ability to access remote vs face-to-face services?
    Which groups of people will be affected most?

Health and well-being

Physical health conditions

Mental health conditions

Past trauma


Social and economic



Caring responsibilites


Language barriers

Race and ethnicity



Digital exclusion

Location from office or venue

Factors to consider

Involve the people using your services, ‘Experts by Experience’, to improve equality, diversity and inclusion.

One size doesn’t fit all. Ensure those who can’t access services through regular channels can access another way.

Resources from organisations

ACAS have equality, diversity and inclusion policy templates.

The HEAR Network have a useful Access to Services Checklist.

Charity So White’s Live position paper on Racial Injustice in the Covid-19 Response.

Refugee Women Connect have created guidance and practical recommendations for working with women to adapt services to reduce gendered harm.


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