Guidance for volunteers and voluntary groups

All voluntary groups and volunteers need to take precautions in line with the most up-to-date advice.

We’re no different and, for the welfare of all, we are changing our working practices. To avoid non-essential face-to-face meetings, we have closed our volunteer drop-in until further notice.

We are still open for business and will support you as much as we can remotely, by telephone and online.

The new Covid-19 variant - Effects on the Voluntary Sector

The Voluntary Sector Emergencies Partnership has published the following summary:

On Thursday 9th December 2021, the Emergencies Partnership joined a short-notice meeting with DCMS about guidance for volunteering in light of the move to Plan B Covid-19 restrictions, announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday. Here’s what we’ve found out.

Government Guidance around Covid-19 comes in two forms:

Information for individuals on volunteering

Information for organisations on managing volunteering

These pages are in the process of being updated, over the next few days, in line with the move to Plan B. In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of key issues.

The ‘work form home if you can’ guidance

This also covers volunteering activity, so it’s ‘volunteer from home if you can’ too.

Activities such as administration, making or answering phone calls, updating websites should be done from home whenever possible. However, you can continue to have volunteers on your premises for these activities if the activities need to be done as part of a face-to-face team, using equipment or resources. If volunteers are continuing to go into a workplace, they should consider taking a lateral flow test regularly to manage their own risk and the risks to others. This comes into effect from Monday 13 December.

The extension of settings in which face coverings must be worn

From Friday 10 December face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.

The introduction of COVID status certification

From Wednesday 15 December, the NHS COVID Pass will also be required for visitors to nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people. Volunteers operating in these conditions will also be required to have the NHS COVID Pass.

The NHS COVID Pass can be obtained through being fully vaccinated (currently this means people who have had the two doses of the vaccine but does not require them to have also had the booster jab) OR have a negative lateral flow test (LFT). People who are not fully vaccinated will be able to show proof of a recent negative COVID test instead: if you’ve had a negative PCR or LFT result in the past 48 hours, and reported it on the NHS website, then the pass lasts 48 hours after the result. Find out more about the NHS COVID Pass.

More information on the requirements for people volunteering in a setting which comes under the CQC regime – hospitals, care homes, etc – to follow, when we have it.

Latest government guidance on volunteering

Step 2 in the Roadmap (12th April)

Coronavirus restrictions changed on 12th April at Step 2 in the Roadmap. Exemptions from restrictions remain the same for volunteering, which means:

• People can meet in groups of any size, indoors or outdoors, while volunteering, and can meet in groups for activities necessary for their volunteering roles, for example, recruitment and training activities.

• Volunteering which cannot be done from home can continue in a closed business or venue while it remains closed to the public.

• Businesses, venues, community centres and libraries that are otherwise required to close or restrict their activities are permitted to open and be used, including by volunteers, for a number of specific purposes only set out on GOV.UK. These are also set out in legislation.

• Accommodation, such as hotels and B&Bs, which is otherwise ordered to close, is permitted to open for people who need to stay for volunteering purposes.

As ever, people should follow social distancing guidance while volunteering outside the home, or COVID-secure guidance if in a workplace. While travelling to volunteer or while volunteering, people should follow the safer travel guidance on GOV.UK.

GOV.UK guidance setting out how volunteering can be done safely during coronavirus is up to date with the current restrictions. This includes guidance for volunteers and for organisations/groups which involve volunteers in their work.

Twice-weekly testing offer

Everyone in England without symptoms can now take a free rapid coronavirus test twice a week. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms is delivered through:

• a home ordering service (which can be accessed on GOV.UK)

• workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home

• community testing, offered by all local authorities

• collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows

• testing on-site at schools and colleges

• a new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service where people will be able to collect a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home.

Government advice is that people who need to leave the home to work or volunteer should be tested twice a week.

NCVO advice

The NCVO has published useful guidance on involving and managing volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic, which you can view here.

There is also a handy guide for individual volunteers, including how to prepare to be a volunteer during the pandemic and how to stay safe. Read that here.

Some of the key areas are:

• Hygiene measures

• Risk assessments

• Keeping people’s personal details safe

• Dealing with money

• Picking up prescriptions

• DBS checks and whether you need them

Victim Support

Victim Support have put some tips together to help keep you safe and to protect those you’re helping from fraudsters. You can read the leaflet here.