Guide Volunteering top tips and how to help safely

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1. Volunteering top tips

If you are concerned about yourself or any of your neighbours

  • If the crisis is life threatening, call 999
  • If you are worried about someone who is ill, call the NHS on 111
  • If someone needs urgent social care or you think may need protection, call:
    • For adults: Care Direct (Devon) 0345 1551007
    • For children: Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 0345 1551071
  • If you are concerned because someone is vulnerable then read or refer them to the government guidelines on protecting the vulnerable and encourage people to keep checking these for updates. 

Remember to never post identifying or private information about yourself or someone who is vulnerable, isolated or ill on any social media platform.

Follow the NHS advice on COVID-19 at all times.


It is important that volunteers and voluntary organisations are aware of the need to consider practical steps around the safeguarding of vulnerable adults in particular. Please see the Government’s guidance note on this.

Top tips for organisations and groups welcoming new volunteers

  • Before volunteering, individuals should consider their own health and wellbeing, other commitments they may have and the time period that they may be able to volunteer
  • Make sure volunteers are aware of guidance related to Coronavirus and that any tasks they do are in line with these 
  • Make sure volunteers are comfortable with any tasks that they are being asked to and that they are not being asked to do any situations that pose a risk to their health and wellbeing
  • Ensure the individual is aware of any expenses or other support they may or may not be able to access as a volunteer
  • Make sure that the volunteer knows who to contact if they have any questions or concerns and that they are able to contact emergency services if necessary

Top tips for existing volunteers or people wanting to volunteer for the first time

  • Before performing any task, it is very important to make yourself aware of up-to-date Coronavirus guidance and don’t perform any tasks that you feel do not meet these
  • Existing volunteers should contact their usual place of volunteering in the first instance, to find out if they are still open and whether they can attend the normal place of volunteering. Your volunteer role may need to change, for example you may be asked to contact service users by phone rather than face-to-face, or if possible you may be asked to work remotely   Consider what other roles are available and whether you would be able to help out
  • Before volunteering, please make sure you have considered your own health and wellbeing, any caring commitments you may have and who you need to make aware that you are volunteering. It’s also helpful to think about how long you may be able to volunteer for and share this with the organisation / group you are / will be volunteering with
  • Avoid any situations that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe and be prepared to leave any situations quickly if necessary
  • If someone near you does need help, if possible try and give that support in pairs, whether that be collecting something, delivering something or walking a dog
  • Irrespective of current advice on social distancing if you do not know someone, you should not enter their home. Leave any deliveries on the doorstep or in a safe place you have agreed
  • Ensure you know who to contact if you have any questions or concerns, check that you would be able to call emergency services if necessary
  • Make sure that you have thought about how you will travel to and from your place of volunteering and if there are any costs for you as a result of volunteering. If you are volunteering with an organisation check with them before you start if they are able to assist with any costs, not all organisations will be in a position to do this

Things we can all do

  • If you don’t know your neighbours, now may be the time to change that. Pop a note or card through their door and introduce yourself. If you can, do this with another neighbour as people may feel more confident to ask for help from more than just one individual. If you can, give contact number/s. It’s better to do this now, before they or you may need support
  • Check on neighbours, especially anyone who may live alone (regardless of their age), anyone elderly or anyone that may be potentially vulnerable. If someone is self-isolating or unable to get out for whatever reason – can you help by doing practical yet vital tasks such as:
    • Collecting a prescription or over the counter medications that may be needed
    • Doing some basic grocery shopping
    • If you are making a meal offer to make a portion for someone who may not be feeling able to cook for themselves
    • Take their bins out on bin day
    • Offering to exercise their dog if they have one and are not able to do this themselves
    • Litter picking – take a bin bag and some gloves on a walk and pick up litter while you go
  • Encourage others to stay active with online exercise classes which can be done from home
  • Revive the lost art of letter writing – send a message to someone who lives a bit further away, and even include a nice photo
  • The Government have advised that that this situation may be ongoing for several months. Please bear in mind that although your help may not be required immediately, over the coming weeks and months it is likely that you will be needed at some point

Top tips for staying safe in your home

  •  Don’t use signs of any type on windows and doors etc. to indicate that you need help. This can draw unwanted attention, instead contact the East Devon District Council Community Support Hub to ask for practical help:
  • Regardless of whether you are well or social distancing, do not let someone into your home that you do not know
  • If someone is offering to help you and you do not feel comfortable – trust your instincts and decline their offer of help. Never feel pressured into accepting someone’s offer of help
  • Always use common sense. Never put yourself or another person at risk
  • If you do not know someone avoid giving them money to go shopping for you. Is there someone you do know? Is there a local shop that you normally use – can you call them and make alternative arrangements for paying for what you need? It’s possible they may even deliver
  • If you need medication speak to the pharmacy first, if you can, to see if they can deliver to you.

 

When this content has been updated

Last updated 6 April 2020