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Celebrating 10 years of CSO

We strive to Inspire - Represent - Integrate

Census 2021

The census is coming on Sunday 21 March 2021. 

By taking part, you can help to inform decisions on services that shape your community, such as healthcare, education and transport.

It’s important that you fill in your census questionnaire online. It’s easy to take part, but if you need a little extra help there are a wide range of support services. 

There’s language support and accessible census guidance. You can also get help from census staff in the contact centre over phone, in a web chat or on social media.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will send you a letter in the post with an access code and instructions. You can fill your census questionnaire in online as soon as you get yours. 

If your household circumstances change on Census Day, you can let the ONS know.

Remember, if you, or anyone you know, needs help, there’s plenty available. 

For more information, visit 

Resources for CSO Members


What are Census Engagement Managers (CEMs) and Community Advisors (CAs)?   

Census Engagement Manager information for your postcode 





Free Bid Writing Support for Members

We have been awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to cover bid writing support for our members. Through this we have now hired a pool of bid writers to assist our members to apply for funding.

We are now offering a free package of support for all of our members made up of two days of bid writing and one day of financial and budget planning support in order for you to apply for funding for your organisation. Please note that the bid writing support and financial support come as a package - you will not be able to select just one of these services. Full support and mentoring for these funding applications will be provided throughout the whole process through our pool of bid writers.

There will be four rounds for members to apply for support, with applications being accepted for the first round from 16th November to 20th November 2020. Bid Writers will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. Each round will be open for one week on the following dates: 

  • 16th - 20th November 2020

  • 30th November - 4th December 2020

  • 4th - 8th January 2021

  • 1st - 5th February 2021

There will be a Cab-Rank rule in place. We will also place a limitation on the allocation on a geographical basis of 50% to London based organisations and 50% to those in other regions.

Please note all members will need to do their own research to find the funding they would like to apply for before applying for this support. For help with this you can access some useful information at the Charity Excellence Framework Website.

For more information and to apply for this funding support please click here to visit our website where you can complete the application form.

Once your form has been received we will be in touch to let you know the next steps of the process.


Somali Speakers Urged to Download NHS Covid-19 App

  • The NHS COVID-19 app is now available in Somali
  • Downloads of the app have passed 16 million across England and Wales
  • Somali speakers are being encouraged to download the app to support the national effort to stop the spread of Covid-19

Somali has been added to the NHS COVID-19 app, as the number of languages available increases to twelve to increase accessibility.

The app, which has now been downloaded over 16 million times across England and Wales, forms a central part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme - identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The contact tracing element of the app works by using low-energy Bluetooth to log the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other. 

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get your test results.

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus not people, and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth (not GPS). These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity. 

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed. No personal data is shared with the government or the NHS. 

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of England’s NHS Test and Trace Programme, said:

“We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service. Making the app available in Somali is a great step to increase accessibility. 

“I encourage everyone who can to download the app, to help prevent further spread of the virus.”

Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS COVID-19 App, said:

“It’s great news that the app is now available in Somali. It’s our aim to get as many people across England and Wales using the app and to make it as accessible as possible.

“I urge anyone who hasn’t downloaded it already to do so - the more people who use it, the better it works.” 

The NHS Test and Trace team behind the app has worked closely with major tech companies, including Google and Apple, scientists within the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University, Zuhlke Engineering, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and teams in countries across the world using similar apps – such as Germany, to develop an app that is safe, simple and secure. 

As well as contact tracing the app has a range of additional, enhanced features that will help to reduce personal and public risk from COVID-19 as part of the wider testing and contact tracing service:

  • Alert: letting users know the level of coronavirus risk in their postcode district
  • QR check-in: enabling users to check-in at a venue and alerting them if they have recently visited somewhere they may have come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19
  • Symptoms: allowing users to check if they have coronavirus symptoms and see if they need to order a free test 
  • Test: helping users book a free test through the app and get results to know whether they have COVID-19
  • Isolate: if a user is told to self-isolate, a timer feature will help count down that period and access will be provided to relevant advice



For more information on the NHS COVID-19 app, visit



Community Update on Social Media Postings on Corona Virus Act 2020 & Children’s Commissioner’s letter to the Government.

This is a Public Interest Health Update for Circulation to CSO Members and the Somali Community in the UK

It has come to our attention thanks to a member of the Somali Community, a teacher in West London, that social media posts have been circulated in response to the letter dated 12th August 2020 written by and on behalf of the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield.

We have investigated the issue having listened to the concerns of the Somali community and the actual WhatsApp message in relation to the scare mongering about “detention of children” for 14 days.

We have contacted the Children’s Commissioner’s Office and they have directed us to this link.

In summary the Children’s Commissioner’s initial letter was taken out of context. They say “Now, in light of the social media posts that appeared in August 2020 we have sought further clarification on the nature of the question posed in many of those posts. ​We have had confirmation from the DfE and DHSC that a parent, carer or legal guardian has to be present for a screening to take place under these powers.”

The Government's own guidance to Public Health Officers can be found on the this link.

CSO would like to advise the members of the Somali Community it is very important that we do not share stories which create hysteria, confusion and panic. The Government has public health duties and the Corona Virus Act 2020 is a very complex and detailed legislation, which should be not taken out of context.

Please think carefully about circulating such stories and its impact on our community. If in doubt please contact CSO and we will find the proper channels to get clarification for the Somali Community.

Contact CSO’s Director, Kahiye Alim on​.


CSO Resilience Program 2020


Download PDF with this information: CSO Resilience Program 2020 PDF


Dear Members and the Somali Community,
I am pleased to share with you that as result of the work and ideas generated from CSOs Working Groups over the last few months we got a national grant from the National Lottery Community Fund for delivery of multifacet resilience capacity building program for Somali led CVO's composed of the following:

  • Funding to Hire Bid Writers,
  • Mental Health training
  • Benefits & Money Debt advice training,
  • Creation of the first UK Wide Somali Community Hub Website and
  • Needs Assessment of Somali-led Mosques.

These programs will commence from 1st September 2020 until end of February 2021. This funding will deal with issues arising from Covid-19 and building resilience in our member organisations to deal with issues such as the predicted recession related issues such as access to benefits, debt advice and mental health awareness. It is all for the benefit of the Somali Community in the UK.

CSO is recruiting for 4 new posts in support of this work please visit our website this week for details.


1. Funding for Bid Writers:

We will be offering a free package of support for all our members, on a first come a first served basis, to assist with accessing funds by supporting and mentoring funding applications through a pool of bid writers.

The funding will cover 135 days of support in bid writing and dealing with budgeting/cash flows to document the impact of Covid-19 on organisations. We will be hiring a pool of bid writers in relation to the first aspect and also making available the services of an accounting firm to assist with the second aspect.

Each organisation must make individual requests on the Pro forma Work Plan and also the Pro Forma Financial Form which can be downloaded from our website following the links.

Every organisation has initial allocation of 3 days of support (2 days bid writing and one day financial information support). There will be a Cab-Rank rule in place. We will also place a limitation on the allocation on a geographical basis of 50% to London based organisations and 50% to those in the regions.

The Funding for Bid Writers page with its two downloadable files can be found at:


We will also continue to update members on new funding opportunities. The Fundraising page can be found on:


2. Capacity Building in Resilience: Benefits, Money & Debt Advice and Mental Health Awareness:

We will be offering the following by Zoom online:

Training in Benefits Advice by the Benefits Training Company, will result in advice sector recognised certificate in the following four areas:

  • Introduction to Welfare Benefits - this course teaches the main principles which underpin the wider benefits system and provides a foundation. There is a focus on recognising entitlement across the whole benefits system and maximising income for people in the community.
  • Universal Credit Overview - we consider who should claim UC, how the rollout of UC affects the wider system, how amounts are calculated, the claims process and work requirements in UC.
  • Personal Independence Payment - this course focuses on making successful applications, particularly the disability criteria and how to fill out the application form effectively.
  • Benefits for EEA nationals - we look at the various tests which affect European nationals focussing mostly on the Habitual Residence Test and theRight to Reside requirement. 

Each course is split into four parts or modules which together make up the equivalent of a one day course. The delivery will be over 8 consequent days of ½ days. Each 1/2 course will consist of two modules of 2.5 hours each.

This training will permit organisations to have the qualified staff and volunteers in order to become formally an advice centre on benefits.


Training in Money & Debt Advice which will result in Certificate which is accredited by the Advice UK and recognised by the Money & Pensions Service & FCA.

The training will involve pre-course reading, a live online 2 hour Zoom session with the tutor, homework such as case studies and exercises then a final 2 hour live online session about 5 working days after the first live online session.

All organisations offering money and debt advice have to individually apply to the FCA for a licence to practice once the staff have completed the accredited training. They can thereafter access specialist debt advice training through the Money Advice Trust.


Training in Mental Health Awareness  will result in a Certificate of Attendance.

This course will allow participants to recognise the symptoms of mental health issues and provide initial help, signposting and guide a person towards appropriate professional help. This course is for ½ day over 2.5 hours.


Who can participate in the Training?

Organisations- We are offering this training to CSO Member organisations in the UK. There are 30 organisation places on offer. We will also place a limitation on the allocation on a geographical basis of 50% to London based organisations and 50% to those in the regions. We will offer on a first come first served basis.

Individuals- We are offering 300 training places for employees of CSO Member organisations and their volunteers. This offer is also open to Somali graduates who are unemployed and looking for job opportunities in the advice sector. If it is possible we will link volunteers for work experience within our CSO Member organisations if organisations indicate willingness to offer places.

Duration of Offer:

The training will be offered in 15 cohorts of 20 participants and will run from mid September 2020 to end of February 2021. We will notify participants close to the date of the scheduling of each cohort and you will be expected to continue with the training within the allocated cohort time table. We will try to accommodate choices where we can but the dates will be fixed well ahead of time in order to permit a wide selection of options.

Conditions of the Offer:

It is mandatory that each person who signs up for the training programme to complete all the training for the certificates to be issued.

Incentive for Participants/Organisations:

CSO is offering a participants incentive of £150 for each participant who completes all the training. Each participant must also complete any course work required as part of the training. Payment will only be made once the training provider certifies that the participant has completed all training and confirmation is received of completed training from all the providers.  Pro rata payment will be made for part participation only if 90% completion rate is achieved.

Additional Incentive Organisations:

CSO will be offering each organisation that signs up for the training with a minimum of 5 staff and/or volunteers 2 tablets with headsets valued at £550. Organisations will keep these equipment for future training opportunities and use them for their work also. This offer is not open to individual participants.

Registration Process:

Organisations and volunteers would need to register their details.

For individuals we would ask your consent to keep your details beyond the training in order for CSO to continue to inform you of further opportunities. Please follow the Link for Individual registration. We would require your name, address and telephone (mobile) and email address.

You can find the training page:

And its two forms:


3. Creation of the first UK Wide Somali Community Hub Website:

We will also be commissioning the first ever UK Somali Community Hub website, which CSO’s members can access for free, subject to moderation, in order to;

  • showcasing their work and services,
  • provide information relating to their areas,
  • advertise job and volunteer opportunities,
  • Sharing ideas on projects and best practice,
  • Educating the Somali Community
  • upload their videos of their work (subject to them fitting in the thematics of CSO’s work on Education, Health & WellBeing, Employment and Criminal Justice System.

The content to be copyright free for use of the Somali Community and be in accordance with the law of the land. Moderation will be at the sole discretion of CSO.


4. Needs Assessment of Somali-led Mosques:

CSO is also funded by the National Lottery Community Fund to do a Needs Assessment.

CSO and many Somali community leaders are concerned that the Somali led mosques are not able to access guidance and support during this period. We wish to reach out to these mosques and understand their needs in this critical period.

We would like members of the Somali community and CSO Members to inform us of the details and contacts of the Mosques which are Somali-led.

The Mosques registration online form can be found at:


Finally, we ask all our members and the community to join CSO in making a success of this massive program of capacity building which will benefit our community in response to the impact of Covid-19.


Bulletin 3 Covid-19 Funding

Dear Members,

CSO is continuing to support our members through this difficult time. If there is anything we can do to help or support you at this time please contact us by using the email and will come back to you asap. All of our staff are set up for home working, using video conferencing etc.

Read more

Consultation Open to Members

CSO Covid-19 Parliamentary Inquiries and Government Consultations

Read more on our Members page

CSO's letter to the Prime Minister - PDF

UK Somalis Response to Covid-19

Press Release - 27 charities across the U.K urge policy - makers to consider the extreme impact of COVID-19 on Somali communities - PDF

COVID-19 in the Somali community urgent briefing for policy-makers in the U.K - PDF

CSO Survey April 2020

Dear colleagues, members,

I hope you are all well and keeping safe!

Council of Somali Organisation has joined the Refugee council to conduct a consultation with MRCOs who may be potential members of the social network map to find out how, the social network map could be designed to meet the needs of its members and to bring about positive change for the benefit of their community members or service users.  

We have compiled this simple questionnaire because by completing it you will help us to understand your organisation’s motivations and capacity to connect with others and your answers will help us design the map format and its supporting communication tools as well as determining its overall functionality. We would also like to know the impact of COVID 19 pandemic so that we know how to support your organisation.

If you require any help with filling in this form, please contact Muna Asmail on Mobile: 07432435339, with any questions or assistance.


Bulletin 2

Dear Members,

“Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return.”- Surat Baqarah 

CSO wishes heartiest condolences to the members of the Somali Community who have suffered tragically under Corona virus.

CSO is continuing to support our members through this difficult time. If there is anything we can do to help or support you at this time please contact us by using the email and will come back to you asap. All of our staff are set up for home working, using video conferencing etc.

Read more

Bulletin 1

Dear Members,

We hope you are all well and keeping safe during this unprecedented global challenge. It is a huge test that calls for new levels of co-operation and resilience in all sectors and we recognise the significant challenges you will be facing. We look forward to working with you.

Read more

Download Coronavirus Leaflet Somali PDF

COVID-19 translated advice

Doctors of the World are really pleased to be able to share with you the Coronavirus (Covid 19) advice for patients in 21 languages, which were produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice:  English, Albanian, Dari, French, Pashto, Portuguese, Bengali, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani is available at the moment, but more languages coming soon: Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Malayalam, Turkish, , Farsi, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali

Please find them here:

The guidance is based on the government’s updated advice and health information. We really hope it will help to ensure this important guidance reaches migrant and asylum-seeking communities in the UK.

We would be happy if you could please share these with your patients, service users and your networks widely so that we reach all communities who would like this crucial information in their own language.

If you know someone who would find emails on this subject useful, then please do forward this to them. They can subscribe by sending an email to this link (Subscribe) with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.

We will replace these documents with the new ones once the NHS advice is updated, and will send you notifications. If you do not want to receive emails on this, please click (unsubscribe) and send a blank email. Thank you for your understanding and for any help you are able to give in sharing these resources.

And a big thank you to Clear Voice for providing translation services quickly and pro-bono!


Our key thematic priorities for 2020-2023 are: 

  • Health & Wellbeing

  • Criminal Justice

  • Education

  • Employment

CSO is always interested in collaborative work and partnerships.  If you would like to discuss potential collaborative work related to our thematic priorities please contact us on