New national restrictions and volunteering

The Prime Minister has announced tougher national restrictions in England from Thursday. Until then, the current local COVID alert level restrictions apply. The implications of the new restrictions for volunteering are outlined below:

Where possible, people should volunteer from home. If they cannot do so, 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.

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 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. 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. Existing GOV.UK coronavirus volunteering guidance pages will be updated in line with the new announcements later this week when the new rules come into effect.

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.

Source: COVID-19 Volunteering Policy, Volunteering Team, Office for Civil Society

Last updated: 3.11.20