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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
National restrictions will remain in place until 2 December 2020. Find out about the new restrictions and what you can and cannot do.
The most important thing you can do to fight coronavirus is to follow social distancing guidance. 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.
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
If you run a volunteer-involving organisation or group, or manage volunteers, you can read guidance on enabling safe and effective volunteering during coronavirus.
1. Stay safe as a volunteer
If you are volunteering, you must follow social distancing guidance. If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.
Where possible, you should volunteer from home. If you cannot do so, you can volunteer outside your home. This also applies to clinically vulnerable people.
If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you should volunteer from home. If you cannot do so, you can still volunteer outside your home. However, you may wish to speak to your organisation about getting extra support to maintain social distancing and minimise contact with others.
If you are volunteering outside your home, you can:
- travel to volunteer or while volunteering
- meet in groups of any size indoors or outdoors while volunteering
- meet in formal support groups for up to 15 participants aged 5 and older
When meeting people from outside your household or support bubble, you should be especially careful to follow social distancing guidance and observe the following key behaviours:
- HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
- FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
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 (stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).
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 volunteering through a voluntary or community group, contact that organisation for advice on how you can stay safe.
Further guidelines on staying safe can be found on staying safe outside your home.
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.
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, unless it is absolutely necessary.
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.