Published 31st October 2020
Good Practice Guidelines for Volunteering during COVID-19
If you are considering volunteering your time to support a volunteering opportunity in relation to COVID-19, you need to be mindful that safeguarding people from abuse, harm and infection is paramount – and that includes you!
At Community Calling, we endeavour to communicate with you about safe methods and systems for doing things that protect everyone. Key things to consider:
- Your safety is your number one priority. Do not put yourself (or others) at risk, follow all the guidelines for infection control around hand-washing and social distancing: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/secondary-care/infection-control/
- Be clear about what activities you will be doing and the expectations and boundaries around the role.
- Your willingness to help is fantastic, however be clear about what is realistic for you to do under difficult circumstances as your wellbeing is important. Be careful that you do not overstretch yourself. A guide to protecting your wellbeing as a volunteer during COVID-19 has been developed: https://www.volunteer.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Your-Well-Being-as-a-Volunteer-During-COVID-19.pdf
- For volunteering opportunities with organisations, make sure you have clear contact details of the main contact person for the opportunity, so you know who is coordinating the activity and who to contact if you have any questions or concerns.
- Community Calling or the organisation that is coordinating your activity may have to carry out certain checks before you start volunteering. Please be patient as this is for the safety of everyone including yourself.
- Do not volunteer if you yourself are feeling unwell or are sick. You must inform the person in charge immediately – either Community Calling or the organisation that you are volunteering for.
- Do not enter the homes of people at risk of harm or anyone you are providing support to unless this has been specifically agreed and the necessary background checks including enhanced Access NI have been carried out within the relevant timeframe.
- Think creatively about the role e.g. how to get shopping lists over the phone, leave shopping at the door, only buying essentials so as they can be carried by the person from their doorstep into the house.
- Avoid handling and exchanging money and under no circumstances accept credit/debit cards, PIN numbers or details of people you are supporting. For example, if doing shopping, methods other than cash exchange are easier to trace and less vulnerable to abuse or infection e.g. taking pictures of receipts and sharing with Community Calling or the organisation you are volunteering for may work for some. See Guidance on Money Issues: https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/app/uploads/2020/06/Guidance-on-Money-Issues-Covid-19.pdf
- Keep your distance at all times – maintain the 2 metre distance rule.
- Do not share any information that you gain about vulnerable people in your community – confidentiality is of paramount importance.
- Report any concerns, incidents or disclosures to Community Calling or the organisation you are volunteering for (the organisation must give you clear procedures for this). For more information see Volunteer Now’s Keeping Children & Adults Safe Factsheet: https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/app/uploads/2020/04/COVID-19-Keeping-Children-and-Adults-Safe-Factsheet-1.pdf
- Free online safeguarding courses here: https://www.volunteernow.co.uk/organisations/safeguarding/safeguarding-courses-online/
- You may wish to show ID with photograph and clearly presented name if interacting with vulnerable people.
- Be prepared to refer on any issues that you cannot deal with, you must report concerns to the relevant authorities such as police or the local Trust.
- Try to minimise your activity to e.g. doing shopping for others when you are doing your own and restrict to only essential items.
- If preparing food, follow good food safety guidelines: https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-safety-for-community-cooking-and-foodbanks
- If volunteers are called upon to support someone with sight loss, the following information may be helpful https://e-activist.com/page/59879/action/1
- Share good news stories when you can through the #CommunityCalling hashtag to highlight the amazing volunteering contribution that is taking place right across Northern Ireland in the fight against COVID-19. These stories can inspire others to get involved and raise everyone’s spirit during this uncertain time.
- For general government guidance see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely–2/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely
Who to contact if you have any concerns
Point of contact for all volunteering concerns: email@example.com
Publication date: 31/10/2020
Effective from: 31/10/2020
Review date: 31/03/2021