How to help safely - Volunteering Guidance

The information below has been taken from the the GOV.UK website here and was updated on 8th January 2021.

1. Stay safe as a volunteer

If you are volunteering, you must follow social distancing guidance. If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.

You must volunteer from home unless it is not reasonably possible for you to do so.

You can volunteer outside your home if:

  • - you cannot volunteer from home

  • - you follow the social distancing guidelines

  • - you’ve not been told to self-isolate by NHS test and trace

  • - you’re not self-isolating for any other reason

This also applies to clinically vulnerable people.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you should volunteer from home. You should not volunteer outside your home.

Where you are unable to volunteer from home, you are allowed to travel in order to volunteer or while volunteering. You should:

  • where possible, stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live, unless absolutely necessary

  • walk or cycle if you can – where that is not possible, use public transport or drive

  • plan ahead and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times

  • follow the safer travel guidance.

If you are volunteering outside your home, you can meet in groups of any size indoors or outdoors while volunteering.

Taking part in a volunteering activity does not mean you can meet in person as part of a social activity.

If you volunteer at a formal support group, there cannot be more than 15 participants (aged 5 and older) in the group itself but there is no limit on the number of volunteers. For example, 5 volunteers could support up to 15 parents and children in a group session, to make a group of 20 in total. Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support - but they must take place at a premises other than a private home.

When meeting people from outside your household or support bubble, you should be especially careful to follow social distancing guidance and observe the following key behaviours:

  • - HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.

  • - FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

  • - SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

Within workplaces, the risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

If you are volunteering in a workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

Organisations should not knowingly require or encourage volunteers who are being required to self-isolate to volunteer at a location other than where they are required to self-isolate.

If you are volunteering through a voluntary or community group, contact that organisation for advice on how you can stay safe.

Your local authority can support you to help others. You can also find tips and guidance from NCVO.

If you volunteer in a critical worker role, you are allowed to send your children to school or other educational settings.

Further guidelines on staying safe can be found on staying safe outside your home.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 — a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia, however mild — you should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started OR if you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19 you should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken.

If you have tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, you should restart the 10 day isolation period from the day you develop symptoms.

You can find information on the NHS Test and Trace service guidance page, including what happens if you test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.

1.1 If you’re worried about someone’s health

Contact the NHS:

- Online: NHS 111 online Coronavirus service (for help and advice)

- Phone: 111 (if symptoms get worse)

- Phone: 999 (if someone’s life is at risk)

If you are worried about someone’s mental health, tell them to get help and support from Every Mind Matters.

2. Stay safe if a volunteer is helping you

Read the guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing). Your safety is important and must come first.

The below are recommendations you should follow when a volunteer is helping you, especially if the volunteer is unknown to you.

If a volunteer is helping you while you stay at home:

- do not give them your credit or debit card numbers or other financial information

- ask for ID if someone you do not know calls at your home

- only share your phone number or address if you need to

- only give your information on a need-to-know basis

- do not let them pressure you into giving information

Remember that volunteers should not enter your home, unless it is absolutely necessary.

If you have serious concerns about the behaviour of someone who is helping you, report this to the police.

3. Face coverings

You must wear a face covering by law in some public places unless you have a reasonable excuse for not wearing one (for example, you are not able to wear one because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability).

From 24 September, staff and volunteers in retail, hospitality and leisure settings will be required to wear a face covering.

You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

When disposing of face coverings and PPE, people should do so in a ‘black bag’ waste bin or litter bin. Face coverings or PPE should not be put in a recycling bin or dropped as litter. Businesses should provide extra bins for staff and customers to dispose of single-use face coverings and PPE, and should ensure that staff and customers do not use a recycling bin. Full details on how to dispose of your personal or business waste during the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the Coronavirus (COVID-19): disposing of waste guidance.

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