Volunteering during COVID-19
Volunteers continue to be a huge help to communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Make sure you protect yourself and the people you're supporting by following these simple rules:
Get tested regularly
You can have coronavirus even if you have no symptoms. You should take a symptom-free test every 2 weeks to check you are virus free.
If you develop symptoms, stop volunteering immediately and take a test.
Remember hands, face, space
Whether you're volunteering indoors or outside, make sure that you:
- always maintain the 2-metre social distancing rule
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use antibacterial gel before and after each visit
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth until you have washed or cleansed your hands
- wear a suitable face covering
- ask whether anyone has symptoms of coronavirus before entering a property.
Agree a payment method
If someone is self-isolating and can't leave their home, you may need to buy their shopping, medicines or other essential items. The self-isolating person can either pay for these up front or reimburse you later on.
The self-isolating person can:
- place their order online (through click and collect) and share the order reference number with you so that you can collect the order.
- order a voucher or gift card that can be topped up with money online or by phone. You can use the card to purchase shopping. Many of the large supermarkets including Aldi, Asda, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Waitrose offer this option.
- sign up to vHelp, an app-based service that helps organisations make quick, secure and low-cost transfers to reimburse volunteers' expenses. The process is cashless, online and fast.
- pay for their shopping over the phone at the checkout, after you have picked it up. Check with your local supermarket to see whether it's a service they offer.
- give their debit card details to a trusted family member to pay for their shopping. They should never give their debit card details to a volunteer who is not a trusted family member. Starling bank provides a debit card designed to be used by a volunteer who is a close family member to pay for shopping.
You must also be mindful of any allergy needs when purchasing food. Follow good food hygiene and do not allow frozen food to thaw (unless it will be used immediately). For food that should be refrigerated, make sure it is back in the fridge within 2 hours of picking it from the shelf.
When shopping for a self-isolating person, always remember to:
- give them receipts and vouchers with a balance remaining
- only ask them to share the details you need to help them and only share the same with them
- cleanse your hands or wear gloves to prevent transmission of the virus.
Did you know...
- You can volunteer to support your neighbourhood or community initiatives while on furlough.
- You don't need to update your car insurance to deliver shopping and essential items to people who are self-isolating.
Keeping others safe
Don't encourage vulnerable people to display requests for help via notes or cards in their windows or doors, as criminals can take advantage.
Abuse can take many forms including physical, emotional, financial and self-neglect. If you are worried about something you have seen, including injuries without explanation or malnutrition you should report it.