Volunteers are a vital part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. You may need more volunteers, have lots of new volunteers, or need to change how existing volunteers support your organisation. The resources below will help you to achieve this.
If you need guidance about running your community group or charity, please look at our comprehensive resources here.
If you are a volunteer looking for advice and guidance, you can find it here.
Volunteer Matching Service
More than 1,800 people signed up to help our communities as volunteers via the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Matching Service, which is run by Community Impact Bucks in partnership with Buckinghamshire Council and The Clare Foundation. Due to this fantastic response, recruitment is paused so that we can match people to where they’re needed most.
How it works
We contact volunteers by phone to collect information and help us create a pool of volunteers. We match volunteers from this pool with organisations in need of volunteers.
We understand that many people are keen to get involved and offer help. Volunteers are an integral part of tackling the impact of Covid-19 on our communities. Right now, we’re pleased to say, most of the need for volunteers in our communities is being met because of the huge amount of support that has been offered. For this reason, we are not able to accept new volunteers into the pool at this moment.
For further advice and guidance for volunteers please look at the information here.
Recruiting and supporting volunteers
Whatever your organisation’s size, it’s really important that you’ve got everything in place before recruiting volunteers for the first time, or when refreshing your current approach. Taking some time out to do this can save time, and possibly also confusion, in the long run.
Volunteers want to know that their time is well spent, that tasks are well organised, and that their contribution is well valued.
You can provide your volunteers with our simple Key Information for Volunteers’ guidance which looks at: who can help, ways to help, information on DBS checks, keeping people and data safe, handling money safely, scam awareness, and contains contact details for key organisations.
This 1 hour recorded webinar from NCVO covers good practice in safeguarding volunteers, and tips for volunteer well-being.
Not everyone can cover their expenses when they volunteer. If you’re able to reimburse volunteers for out-of-pocket expenditure e.g. petrol, this will ensure that volunteering is open to more people. This guidance on volunteer expenses(NCVO KNOWHOW) explains what you need to think about.
Insurance for volunteers is not a requirement in UK law, however, it can be useful where there is a risk of harm to volunteers or the public. NCVO KNOWHOW covers key points about insurance, as well as considerations when deciding about insurance.
Keyworker definition and furloughing
The keyworker definition applies to people in paid, and unpaid i.e. volunteer, roles. This information(NCVO KNOWHOW) clarifies what these roles are, and links to the Government’s key worker guidance.
At present, many staff from the private, public and voluntary sectors are in furlough. This NCVO blog clearly states that furloughed employees cannot do any work for their organisation, and whilst on furlough, they must not provide services or make money for (or on behalf of) their employer – this includes volunteering. It also provides handy tips on helping furloughed staff from another organisation to volunteer with yours – but remember that fixed furlough swap schemes, where one charity arranges for its furloughed employees to volunteer for another charity and vice-versa, are not allowed.
Keeping people safe
Whether you’re managing volunteers in an informal or formal group, you have a duty of care to ensure that they, and the people they’re helping, are protected, and that they have a good volunteering experience. There are some simple and practical steps that can be taken to ensure this, and these are explored in the resources below:
COVID-19: Key facts
This e-learning from the British Red Cross is designed for anyone responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and takes under 1 hour to complete. It covers key facts about COVID-19, looking after yourself, looking after others, and has FAQs and a quiz.
Testing is now available for all essential workers – this definition applies to both paid and unpaid i.e. volunteer roles. The test is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing. Remember: if a volunteer, or someone in their household, exhibits symptoms such as a cough or high temperature, they should self-isolate following the Government guidelines.
This short training video provides essential safeguarding information, what signs might indicate that a vulnerable individual is at risk, and how to report your concerns.
It is important to remember that DBS checks are just one tool to keep people safe. It is also a good idea to check photo ID for every volunteer to ensure that they who they say they are, and to take up at least one reference.
Shopping, driving and dog walking
Many volunteers will be supporting vulnerable people by doing their shopping. Our Shopping & Handling Money Guidance sets out the key Do’s and Don’ts, and preferred options for transactions, including using volunteer/regular e-gift cards available from the big supermarkets. Cash should only be used as a last resort as there is the risk of spreading the virus, and other methods of payment are easier to trace and less vulnerable to abuse.
Those volunteering to help their communities during the COVID-19 outbreakdo not need to contact their insurer to update their documents or extend their cover, the ABI has said.
Some volunteers may be involved with walking someone else’s dog if, due to their individual circumstances, they are unable to do so themselves. Following this guidance will help keep everyone safe.
Recognising and reporting scams
COVID-19 has led to an increase in scams and false offers of help. Download this useful poster from Friends Against Scams detailing how volunteers can protect themselves and others.
Supporting volunteers’ mental health
Remember to check in with your volunteers as often as you can. These are unsettling times for everyone, and sometimes a well -timed “How are you?” can make a world of difference.
In addition, Our Frontline offers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after the mental health of staff and volunteers involved in frontline health, care, emergency and key worker roles. If this applies to your volunteers’ roles, make sure that they know about this valuable service.
If you’re handling personal information belonging to volunteers and people your organisation is supporting, for example their phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses, there are some simple steps to take to minimise risks, as outlined by NCVO KNOWHOW.
This blog from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is also an excellent summary of what community groups responding to COVID-19 need to know about data protection.