New national restrictions and volunteering

Page last updated on 9 November 2020

Please read below the information that we received from the Office for Civil Society (part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) on 2 November 2020 in our role as the Volunteer Centre for Buckinghamshire accredited by NCVO:

The Prime Minister announced tougher national restrictions in England from Thursday 5th November 2020. We are aware that you will likely have questions around what these new restrictions mean for volunteering.

The new restrictions come into effect on Thursday 5 November. Until then, the current local COVID alert level restrictions apply.

The implications of the new restrictions for volunteering are outlined below:

  • Volunteering from home: where possible, people should volunteer from home.
  • Volunteering away from home: if people are unable to volunteer from home, they can volunteer outside their home if they follow the social distancing guidance and no one in their household has symptoms of coronavirus or has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Exemptions for voluntary and charitable activities: voluntary and charitable activities are exempt from a number of the new restrictions. This means that, where volunteers are able to volunteer outside their home (see above) they can:
    • meet in groups of any size indoors or outdoors while volunteering
    • travel to volunteer or while volunteering

As always, it should be a volunteer’s personal choice whether they wish to volunteer, including outside their home, and they should not be compelled to do so by their organisation or group.

  • Volunteer-involving organisations must ensure their workplaces meet coronavirus safety standards.
  • People over the age of 60, and those who are clinically vulnerable to coronavirus: people over the age of 60, and those who are clinically vulnerable, do not face any specific restrictions on volunteering and should follow the same guidelines as above. However, as this group could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, they may need additional support to follow social distancing rules and minimise contact with others.
  • People who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus: there is a further group of people who are defined, on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. Clinically extremely vulnerable people can volunteer from home; they are advised not to volunteer outside their home. As set out on GOV.UK, the full new (general coronavirus rather than volunteering-specific) guidance for CEV people will be published today  and the Government will write to everybody who is clinically extremely vulnerable to set out detailed advice while the new restrictions are in place.

As of 5 November 2020: existing GOV.UK coronavirus volunteering guidance pages Coronavirus: How to help safely and Coronavirus (COVID-19) volunteering have been updated in line with the new restrictions.

OCS will also work to bring forward the launch of our planned new guidance for volunteer-involving organisations and groups and publish it as soon as possible. This guidance will help organisations and groups understand how to involve volunteers safely in their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Update from the Office for Civil Society on 3 November 2020: The guidance is that if a venue/site has not been told to close and the volunteering that happens there cannot be done from home, then it is permitted to continue at the venue/site. This is the same as for paid work.  However, of course organisations may themselves choose to close or stand down volunteers even if they haven’t been legally compelled to.

For our advice for volunteers, visit our dedicated Advice for Volunteers’ web page. If you are part of a charity or community group and would like advice on managing and recruiting volunteers during the pandemic, visit our Covid-19 Volunteering webpage.  Please email with any queries.

Quick guide from NAVCA to decision making about volunteering activity during lockdown commencing 5 November 2020.