COVID-19 Advice for volunteers

Volunteers are a vital part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak and it has been amazing to see so many Bucks residents step forward to help.

More than 1,800 people have 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. You can still get in contact directly with your local community response groups.   If you would like to offer your professional skills as a volunteer, you can create a profile on Reach Volunteering.

Aged 16-17? Check out Keep Doing Good, the FREE National Citizen Service programme being delivered by Action4Youth this summer in Buckinghamshire.  Learn new skills and get involved in socially-distanced fundraising and volunteering.

If you would like one-to-one advice about volunteering, do get in touch:

Support for volunteer-involving organisations can be found on our COVID-19 Advice about volunteering page. 

Key information for COVID-19 community volunteers

Whether you’ve volunteered to help your community before, or are completely new to volunteering, COVID-19 is something which none of us has ever encountered before.  We’ve compiled some great resources to help you have a positive volunteering experience, and to stay safe:

The information every volunteer should read:

Shopping, driving and dog walking

  • Many volunteers are 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.
  • If you’re shopping for people with dietary requirements, the Vegetarian for Life: Good grocery shopping guide is a great round up of what foods are suitable for people with specific needs.
  • If you’re with walking someone else’s dog, following this guidance will help keep everyone safe.
  • If you’re volunteering to help your community during the COVID-19 outbreak you do not need to contact your vehicle insurer to update your documents or extend your cover, the ABI has said.

How to help safely

It’s important that you let family and friends know what you’re doing, and that you don’t take on too much; there are lots of other people eager to help.

  • This Government guidance clearly sets out how you can stay safe and well as a volunteer, as well as what to do if you’re worried about someone’s health.
  • This Government guidance addresses staying alert and staying safe (social distancing)
  • This Government factsheet, Community volunteers during COVID-19 outbreak, is designed to address specific concerns that people involved in supporting their community may have at this time. It is accompanied by FAQs, which include advice for individuals wanting to assist people in their local community – the focus is specifically on Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks.
  • Our DBS Checks for community volunteers during COVID-19 outbreak guidance also contains comprehensive FAQs for both individuals and community groups.

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.

Training videos and e-learning

These short videos won’t take up much or your time, but will give you crucial information about a number of key areas:

  • Safeguarding – Covid-19: essential safeguarding information, what to look out for, and what to do if you suspect a vulnerable individual is at risk
  • Advice for Volunteers – Covid-19: general tips for keeping safe when volunteering
  • Tips for Telephone Befriending: tips for keeping safe and volunteering effectively
  • 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.

Other useful information

Lockdown, keyworker definition and furloughing

  • Drawing on Government advice, this NCVO blog clarifies that people can go out to volunteer if they’re providing help to vulnerable people, or if their volunteering cannot be done from home.
  • 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. You can still volunteer for other organisations.

COVID-19: Testing

Anyone in England who has symptoms of coronavirus, whatever their age, can ask for a test through the NHS website.

In England, priority testing can be accessed through GOV.UK by:

  • Essential workers – this definition applies to both paid and unpaid i.e. volunteer roles
  • Anyone over 5 years old who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with an essential worker
  • Children under 5 years old who have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker (this test must be performed by a parent or guardian).

Remember: if you, or someone in your household, exhibits symptoms such as a cough or high temperature, you should self-isolate following the Government guidelines.

Looking after your mental health

Bereavement support

6 bereavement podcasts have been produced by Health Education England since April 2020 on the training and support of volunteers dealing with the dying or people in bereavement. Recorded by Sally James with Alex James from

Volunteers can also email Alex confidentially for free practical online support and advice on caring for the dying and bereaved:

Additional resources include FAQs about volunteering and information about becoming a Trustee.