Coronavirus Advice for Volunteers: Staying Safe When Helping Others

People separated by sign reading 2 metres
Monday, 23 March, 2020

If you’re volunteering, whether as part of an organised volunteer response team, with a local group such as Mutual Aid, or running errands for a neighbour, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your own safety and the safety of the people you’re helping during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We’ve put together some advice for volunteers to help you take care of yourself and others:

  • Make sure someone knows your whereabouts. Let a family member or friend know what you’re doing and where you’ll be.
  • Keep a safe distance of at least 2 metres from the person or people you’re helping.
  • If you’re dropping off shopping for someone, please don’t go inside the home. Knock on the door, leave the shopping on the doorstep and take a few steps step back.
  • Volunteer in pairs if possible, but make sure you stay 2 metres apart. Don’t volunteer in large groups.
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitiser if you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • Be clear about how you can help and only offer to do things you feel comfortable with.
  • If you’re volunteering for a local charity or community group, only carry out tasks that have been previously agreed.
  • If you have concerns about someone’s welfare, don’t try to handle the situation yourself. Pass on any concerns to a professional. If you’re not sure who to speak to, contact RedbridgeCVS and we’d be happy to help you make a referral.
  • Keep people’s personal information and circumstances confidential.
  • Don’t offer others medical advice unless you are trained to do so.
  • Don’t accept gifts. If someone offers you a gift, politely decline it.
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t take on more than you can manage.
Other steps you should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when volunteering are:
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Putting used tissues in the bin straight away and washing your hands afterwards
  • Avoiding close contact with others
  • Not using public transport wherever possible

The most important thing to consider is whether you’re well enough to volunteer. Some people with underlying health conditions have a higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus. The Government has produced some guidance on how you can protect yourself if you have a health condition that could put you at risk.

It’s also important to make sure that you don't run the risk of making someone else unwell. If you or any members of your household have symptoms of coronavirus you shouldn’t do any volunteering unless you can volunteer from home. Please do not volunteer outside of your home if you have either:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. If you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual.

Stay safe and stay well!

London Borough of RedbridgeNHS Redbridge Clinical Commissioing GroupCity of LondonLondon CouncilsMayor of LondonSkills Funding Agency  Big Lottery