This guidance is for people who run volunteer-involving organisations, groups, or manage volunteers. If you would like to volunteer yourself, please read guidance on how to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic: https://www.gov.uk/volunteering/coronavirus-volunteering
Further information for voluntary organisations and groups on how they can safely and effectively support the country during the outbreak: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-guidance-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-organisations
Who can volunteer?
Anyone can volunteer during the pandemic but there are restrictions on where and how volunteer roles can be completed.
People who can volunteer from home should do so
People can volunteer outside their home, including within a workplace, if the following apply:
- they can't volunteer from home
- they don’t need to self-isolate
- they are not classified as clinically extremely vulnerable
- they follow social distancing guidance f volunteering in a workplace
- their workplace has not been ordered to close
This advice also applies to clinically vulnerable, including those 70 and over as these people are at higher risk from coronavirus and might need extra support following social distancing rules.
In addition, clinically extremely vulnerable people who wish to volunteer should volunteer from home.
It should always be a volunteer’s personal choice whether they want to volunteer, including outside their home.
From 5th November the government ordered closure of some workplaces and specific activities. This also includes workplaces/activities involving volunteers. Read the guidance on workplace closures here to find out about your organisation: http://guidance on workplace closures
Volunteering in groups and around others
It is important for volunteers who meet in groups or with others from outside their household/support bubble to follow social distancing guidance, especially the following key behaviours:
- HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
- FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you don't live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place
The workplace must be COVID-secure when volunteering in a workplace where social distancing is difficult.
Travelling to volunteer/ while volunteering
People are allowed to travel to volunteer or while volunteering in England. It is advised to walk or cycle if possible.
If people need to travel to another nation in the UK to volunteer, they should check the restrictions of that nation beforehand.
People must wear a face covering by law in some public places unless they are exempt due to an illness, impairment or a disability.
Volunteers in retail, hospitality and leisure must also wear a face covering. Volunteers should also wear a face covering indoors if they will be in:
- an enclosed public space
- a place where they cannot stay 1 metre apart from other people
- a place where they will come into contact with people they do not usually meet
Coronavirus testing for volunteers
Some volunteers will be classified as essential worker roles. Volunteers in essential worker roles are prioritised for coronavirus testing.
Ensuring volunteers and their workplaces are safe
Your organisation should:
- make sure your workplace is COVID-secure in line with HSE guidance
- display a notice in your workplace to show you have followed the necessary steps in making sure it is COVID-secure.
Organisations/groups should assess the risks in volunteering roles and take steps to keep volunteers safe including:
- the physical environment the volunteers are in
- the role’s activities and tasks
- the individual needs of the person doing the role
Guidance for organisations and groups on working safely during coronavirus: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Volunteers should be recognised throughout your organisation/ group’s safeguarding policies.
Read information on how DBS guidelines have changed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-how-dbs-is-supporting-the-fight-against-coronavirus#covid-19-frequently-asked-questions-faqs
Organisations which are employers should read guidance on DBS checks for employers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/dbs-check-requests-guidance-for-employers
Insurance and volunteers
You will need to consider which type of insurance cover you need to protect your volunteers and your organisation/ group. Read NCVO guidance on insurance and volunteers.
Volunteers who claim benefits or who are ‘furloughed’
People who get benefits can volunteer while receiving their benefits, as long as they still meet the conditions of the benefit they get. Read http://guidance on volunteering and claiming benefits.
Employees who are furloughed through the http://Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can (during the hours they are furloughed), volunteer for another organisation or employer. http://Read guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Involving volunteers in mutual aid groups and community support groups
If you run a mutual aid/ community support group, or would like to set one up, you can read the following:
- http://guidance for local mutual aid groups
- http://planning the coordination of spontaneous volunteers
- http://safeguarding guidance for mutual aid groups
- http://safeguarding guidance for informal volunteer-led group
- http://advice on what volunteer-led community groups need to consider about data protection