Coronavirus community groups advice

Volunteers have a vital role to play in supporting the most vulnerable in the community during the crisis, and their time and effort is much appreciated. This guidance is aimed at helping community volunteer groups to be consistent and to help make sure people's good will is used in the most effective way possible.

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General guidance

  • Ensure volunteers are clear what is being asked of them. You could use a volunteer description/agreement document. A sample agreement you can amend to suit your own group's purposes is available on this page.
  • Wherever possible use volunteers with a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance for activities involving deliveries to people's homes.
  • Do not use people in the Public Health England high risk health categories or those over 70 for tasks where they need to leave their homes. Some people in these categories could support 'back office' work.
  • Confidentiality of people's information is a legal requirement under General Data Protection Regulations (legislation) and consideration must be given to the way that volunteer and client details are filed manually or on computers. A sample confidentiality document you can amend to suit your own group's purposes is available on this page.
  • If your group is small or newly formed, consider the boundaries of what you are able to offer to residents, given your numbers and logistics. It is better to offer a small service and do it well and be reliable, than try to do everything and meet every request, only for your members to be overwhelmed and make mistakes.

Affiliated Voluntary Support North Surrey volunteers

  • Sadly, there are some people in society who might try to take advantage of vulnerable people at a difficult time by posing as volunteers. Affiliated Voluntary Support North Surrey volunteers will have an identity card showing their name and photo. Residents can call Voluntary Support North Surrey on 01932 571122 to verify whether someone visiting is one of its affiliated volunteers.

  • Should an affiliated Voluntary Support North Surrey volunteer be taking a delivery to a person requiring payment, Runnymede Borough Council is offering a payment service so the resident can pay the Council and the Council then reimburses the volunteer. The full process can be found on this page.

  • Delivery guidance

  • Volunteers should not go into the houses they are delivering to. They should leave food/goods outside on the doorstep, knock on the door and stand at least two metres back. They should then wait to see if the person comes to collect the delivery before leaving. If they don't answer, does the group already have a contact number so the person can be called to advise them the volunteer is there?

  • Volunteers should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before and after deliveries.

  • The social distancing rule of keeping two metres apart wherever possible should be adhered to.

  • Public transport should be avoided. In cases where it is unavoidable, disinfection of the items delivered should be carried out.

  • Wherever possible, volunteers should wear gloves when handling any items which may be given to people who have compromised immune systems. The virus can live on some surfaces for up to 24 hours. If volunteers cannot wear gloves, they should disinfect any surface that will be handled by the person being delivering to.

  • Unnecessary risks should not be taken.

    Medicine and prescriptions

  • Pharmacy2U offer a free delivery service. Encourage people to use this service if the medicine is non-urgent as typically the delivery takes one week. Further details are available on its website.

  • If residents cannot use the above service, be aware most prescriptions are sent electronically direct to a pharmacy from the GP surgery. To avoid wasted journeys the following should discovered in advance:

  • Has the person advised the pharmacy they authorise a volunteer to collect on their behalf?

  • Which pharmacist will it need to be collected from?

  • Is the prescription with the pharmacist already?

  • Is it ready to collect?

  •  What hours is the pharmacy open?

  •  Does it need to be paid for?

  • All the safety guidance outlined in the deliveries section above should also be adhered to.
  • Food and essential supplies

  • Clarify if there are any special dietary requirements in advance.

  • Follow all the relevant safety guidance outlined in the deliveries section above.

    Post

  • Ask if there are any special codes or information needed to post an item.

  • If they need to send a parcel rather than a letter, ask what it is inside the parcel as this information is required by the Post Office.

  • Follow all the relevant safety guidance outlined in the deliveries section above.

    How volunteers should be protected

    The health and safety of volunteers is paramount. Make sure that volunteers are aware of the guidance given here. Volunteers should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer regularly and avoid touching their face.

    If volunteers are worried about symptoms, they should consult the NHS guidance. If symptoms are severe they should call NHS 111. They should not go directly to their GP or other healthcare environment. They should immediately stop carrying out volunteer support work.

Due to the nature of the volunteering there are occasions when volunteers will be working alone, sometimes in remote or isolated areas or even at night. Volunteer leaders should think about a risk assessment, as a few simple precautions can reduce risk to a minimum. A sample lone working policy you can amend to suit your own group's purposes is available on this page.

Wherever possible use volunteers with a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance for activities involving deliveries to people's homes. If this isn't possible, and it is an emergency, consider sending two volunteers who are not friends or family members so there is a non-biased witness to protect each volunteer as well as the vulnerable person. Social distancing of two metres should still be adhered to.

Managing conflict

Volunteers who are in immediate danger should withdraw to a safe distance and ring 999.