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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely--2/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely
The most important thing you can do to fight coronavirus is to stay alert and safe by maintaining social distancing. This will help control the virus and save lives.
Whether you choose to volunteer will depend on the type of activities you would like to do, and the risks associated with that for you as an individual. We recommend that you check guidance on how to manage the risk of coronavirus before you volunteer. If you volunteer via an organisation you should also contact them for advice on if it is safe for you to volunteer.
When volunteering you should follow health and safety guidance, using safety measures appropriate to the risk.
This guidance applies to all 3 local COVID alert levels in England.
If you live in Scotland, go to Ready Scotland for the latest information.
If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI Direct for the latest information.
You can find coronavirus (COVID-19) volunteering opportunities in Volunteer placements, rights and expenses
1. Stay safe as a volunteer
If you are volunteering, you must follow the government’s stay alert and safe (social distancing) guidance. If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.
To help contain the virus, people who can volunteer effectively from home should do so over the winter. If you cannot volunteer effectively from home, you can volunteer outside your home.
At all 3 alert levels, whilst providing voluntary services:
you are exempt from social gathering restrictions
you can travel within and between different local COVID alert level areas to volunteer
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 (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
If you or someone in your household starts to show symptoms, or if you are at high risk of severe symptoms yourself, then you must stay at home.
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 clinically extremely vulnerable, you should volunteer from home wherever possible. If you cannot volunteer from home, you can still volunteer outside your home. However, if you live or volunteer in an area where formal shielding advice has been put in place, you are advised to not volunteer outside your home.
If you are volunteering through a voluntary or community group, contact that organisation for advice on how you can stay safe.
Organisations must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work, including to volunteer.
Please check your local council’s website for any specific rules to follow when helping in your local area.
Further guidelines on staying safe can be found on staying safe outside your home.
When travelling outside your home, walk and cycle if you can. Where this is not possible, use public transport or drive.
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.
This only applies to those who begin their self-isolation on or after 30 July.
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.
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).
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.