Volunteer placements, rights and expenses

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) volunteering

If you want to volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can do this:

  • from home, for example by working on a telephone support helpline
  • outside your home, for example by delivering food and medicine
  • in a workplace, for example an office

This guidance is for volunteers in England. Volunteering is not affected by coronavirus tier levels.

If you run an organisation or group, or manage volunteers, find out how to involve volunteers safely and effectively.

There is different guidance on volunteering in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Volunteering from home

Anyone can volunteer from home.

This is the safest way to protect yourself and others during the winter.

Volunteering outside your home

You can volunteer outside your home if:

If you’re ‘clinically vulnerable’ (moderate risk from coronavirus), you can still volunteer outside your home.

If you’re volunteering in a workplace, it should meet coronavirus safety standards.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable

If you’re ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ (high risk from coronavirus) you should volunteer from home if possible.

If you do volunteer outside your home, tell the organisation you’re volunteering with that you are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They may be able to give you extra support to maintain social distancing and minimise contact with others.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

Do not volunteer outside your home if you have coronavirus symptoms or if you have tested positive for coronavirus.

You must self-isolate for at least 10 days from the date you started having symptoms or from the day you tested positive - whichever is the latest.

If you are self-isolating:

  • you cannot leave home (or the place where you are self-isolating) to volunteer
  • your volunteer organisation should not ask you to leave home (or the place where you are self-isolating)

Volunteering with others

There is no limit on how many other volunteers you can work with at a time. Volunteers can be from different households, and can meet indoors or outdoors.

If you volunteer at a support group, there cannot be more than 15 people (aged 5 and older) in the group itself but there is no limit on the number of volunteers.

For example, 5 volunteers could support up to 15 parents and children in a group session, to make a group of 20 in total.

When meeting people from outside your household or support bubble, follow social distancing guidelines.

Travelling to volunteer or while volunteering

You are allowed to travel in order to volunteer or while volunteering. 

You should walk or cycle where possible. If you need to use public transport, avoid busy times and routes and follow the safer travel guidance. This includes the travel rules on social distancing, wearing face coverings and advice on car sharing.

Wearing face coverings while volunteering

You must wear a face covering by law in some public places unless you have a reasonable excuse for not wearing one. For example, if you have an illness, impairment or a disability.

Staff and volunteers in retail, hospitality and leisure settings must also wear a face covering.

You should also wear a face covering indoors if you will be in:

  • an enclosed public space
  • a place where you cannot stay 1 metre apart from other people
  • a place where you will come into contact with people you do not usually meet

Ways to volunteer

You can:

  • shop for food and medicine (online, or in person)
  • deliver food and medicine
  • help with food banks and homeless services
  • work on a telephone support helpline

To apply, volunteer through your local council. Find your council’s website and search for information about volunteering during coronavirus.

You can also apply to volunteer through a charity or organisation.

Volunteer to help the NHS

If you want to help the NHS as a general volunteer, apply for the NHS volunteer responder scheme. You’ll need to check the scheme is recruiting in your area.

To volunteer in a hospital, including if you’re a doctor or nurse, contact your local hospital trust.

If you want to give blood, read the guidance about donating blood during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you want to take part in a research study for a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, sign up for the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry. An NHS-approved researcher will contact you once you have signed up. They will tell you about studies you can volunteer for, and you can decide if you want to take part.

Other ways anyone can help

You can donate to the National Emergency Trust whether or not you’re at high risk.

Volunteer the help of your business

You can offer support from your business to help with the response to coronavirus.