Supporting volunteers in a COVID-19 crisis

Please note: we are in regular contact with colleagues around the country and will update this guidance in line with good practice as it emerges >> Last updated: 27 March 2020

If you are setting up a new group to help people with shopping and practical support, please read the information below and get in touch with us for further help.

 *If you are involved with an existing organisation and have queries related to COVID-19 and volunteers, please also do get in contact.*

  1. Volunteer recruitment
  • Create simple descriptions and volunteer agreements for new COVID-19 related volunteer roles so that it’s clear what volunteers are being expected to do. You can download a simple template here. 
  • Have a simple criteria in place to help screen people’s suitability to volunteer, for example ensuring that they do not fall into the high risk categories. NB People in high risk categories may be able to volunteer in some roles, e.g. as co-ordinators, whilst staying at home
  • DBS checks: Changes to DBS ID checking guidelines
  1. What support are you giving your volunteers?
  • Training: think about how this can be delivered safely to groups of volunteers, for example using tools like Skype, Zoom or YouTube to do this online. More training videos can be found here
  • Volunteers should have a named person as their main point of contact; this could be a volunteer supervising a team of others. These are uncertain times, and it is important that volunteers feel supported and listened to
  • Give volunteers clear guidance on what to do if they have a problem, for example how to report a safeguarding concern, or if they have concerns about a person’s health
  • Out-of-pocket expenses: whilst it may be impractical to offer these, some volunteers may themselves be experiencing financial difficulties so try to make expenses available to those that might need them.
  1. How are you protecting your volunteers?
  • Health and safety of volunteers is paramount. Ensure that your volunteers are aware of guidance given on the government website
  • Ensure that you have up-to-date personal and emergency contact details of volunteers, and ask them to let you know if these details changes
  • Check with your insurer that your insurance will cover the work you’re doing, including your volunteers
  • You should always keep your volunteers safe. Here’s a template lone working policy you can use – make sure you make it available to your volunteers: click here.
  1. How are you protecting the people you want to help?
  • If the people that you are helping are vulnerable, it is good practice to complete a risk assessment, particularly in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and the risk of fraud when the exchange of money is involved.  There is a simple template here.

Acknowledgment with thanks: Voluntary Support North Surrey, and Wales Council for Voluntary Action for provision of some of the above content, including sample documents.

For all COVID-19 advice and guidance, go to our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.