Insurance and volunteering (NCVO)
- Insurance for volunteers is not a requirement in UK law, however it can be useful where there is a risk of harm to volunteers or the public. Here are some things to consider when deciding about insurance.
- Volunteer drivers will need to make sure they are insured, as well as making sure the vehicle is fit for use.
- People who are volunteering to help their communities during the coronavirus outbreak do not need to contact their insurer to update their documents or extend their cover, the ABI have said.
Volunteer Expenses (NCVO)
Volunteer expenses are expenses incurred as a result of a person volunteering.
- Not everyone can cover their own expenses when they volunteer. Paying expenses means volunteering is open to more people, including those from disadvantaged communities.
- Remember to pay volunteers for any expenses they may incur. This could include:
- fuel or mileage costs
- food and drink taken while volunteering
- hygiene items, such as disinfectant, plastic gloves or hand sanitiser.
- Having an expenses policy will help you be consistent over what is and is not an expense. NCVO’s guidance on writing an expense policy can help with this. If you are setting up a community group, you should still develop an expenses policy.
- To pay volunteers you can:
- ask them to spend the money, keep receipts and return them so you can pay them back based on actual expenditure
- give them money upfront, tell them to get a receipt and return any change.
- Make sure you keep a record of amounts paid, to whom and when. If volunteers are unable to confirm that they have received money, take screenshots or photos of conversations with them where they confirm they have received reimbursement.
- For more information read our volunteer expenses guidance.
Paying for goods or services (NCVO)
If someone is self-isolating, volunteers may pay for the food, other household shopping, medicines (prescription or otherwise) or other services. This is different to volunteer expenses.
- It is up to the volunteer if they wish to give their bank account details to the person they are helping, so that person can repay them by bank transfer.
- Volunteers can give receipts of any purchases made to the person who is self-isolating
- If you are worried about handling money from those who are self-isolating, consider contactless payment methods such as such as cheque or online payment (eg using Paypal).
- If you are handling cash, wear gloves and/or make sure you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds after to reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. Alternatively, use anti-bacterial gel and always keep your hands away from your face.
Safeguarding for volunteer managers (NCVO)
Coronavirus means that volunteers will be helping a broad number of people, some of whom may be vulnerable due to age, illness or disability. This includes people who have been asked by their doctor to ‘shield’ themselves (staying indoors at all times for 12 weeks), those who are self-isolating, or those at a higher risk from the virus. Before helping, everyone should have a basic understanding of safeguarding and who to report to if there are any concerns.
- If you are supporting or organising volunteers, you should understand:
- The risks of your volunteer roles or activities
- How you will manage those risks, including following rules on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
- How to handle safeguarding concerns if a volunteer tells you a vulnerable person is being harmed or is at risk of harm.
- Verify the identity of people who wish to volunteer, eg ask to see a driving license.
- Look at the roles being carried out and think about the risk to volunteers and the people they are helping.
- Based on the risks, organisations should choose the appropriate level of DBS check.
- Make sure everyone understands they have a responsibility to safeguard people from harm or risk of harm.
- If a volunteer is worried about someone, listen to their concerns and take them seriously. Record what you are being told. A safeguarding policy will help you set out how volunteers can report concerns. Tell the relevant authority – this could be:
- the local authority safeguarding team
- the police
- Action Fraud
Safeguarding for informal volunteer-led groups
- Informal groups or networks of people (such as mutual aid groups) who don’t have a process for recruitment decisions do not need to carry out DBS checks, however they should make clear to beneficiaries that volunteers have not been checked.
- If you think a role carries a higher level of risk that requires these checks or additional support, it is often best to work through an established organisation via a Volunteer Centre.
- Here are some ways you can help safeguard beneficiaries:
- Do not overstate the checks that have been carried out on volunteers – this might create a false sense of security for beneficiaries.
- Ask people to volunteer in pairs, observing social distancing rules where possible.
- Be clear why roles have certain limitations and stay within them, eg not going into people’s houses.
- Follow the up-to-date government guidance to stop the spread of the virus, including hand washing and keeping two metres away from people being helped.
- Have clear processes for handling money.
- Don’t collect or store personal details of people unless absolutely necessary. See the data protection section.
- Know how to recognise and report harm or risk of harm.
DBS checks and volunteers (NCVO)
Only a few roles need a DBS check by law. These are roles involving ‘regulated activity’. Regulated activities include transporting, teaching and caring, including personal care to those who are vulnerable due to age, illness or disability.
- Many common coronavirus-related volunteer roles are not regulated, and therefore do not require a DBS check or barred list check. These include:
- shopping for people who are voluntarily self-isolating
- picking up prescriptions
- driving (with the exception of transporting patients)
- posting mail
- delivering items or dog walking.
- If you think a volunteer in your organisation might be carrying out a regulated activity, use the government’s DBS online tool to find out whether you need to take action.
- If the purpose of the volunteer role is to support someone who is self-isolating or shielding, this does not make this regulated activity.
- Even if someone becomes ill while self-isolating or shielding, if the purpose of the volunteering role is to support them to distance themselves from others, it is unlikely this role is regulated.
- You don’t need a DBS check to help out a family member.
- As a guide, ask yourself ‘would supporting this person have been regulated before they self-isolated?’ If the answer is no, then it is not likely a regulated activity
- It is a criminal offence for barred individuals to undertake regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults. An organisation will be held liable if it knowingly places someone who is barred from regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults.
- There are three types of DBS check. A basic check costs £23 and there is no eligibility requirement. Standard and enhanced checks are free for volunteers but are only available for certain roles.
- Find your local umbrella body and they will manage the process of running checks with the DBS.
- Always weigh up the time and cost required to carry out DBS checks on volunteer roles. See the current information on fees.
NHS Volunteer Programme – Updated Information here
- Volunteers can help in four roles.
- Community response volunteer– which involves “collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.”
- Patient transport volunteers will support the NHS by driving discharged patients to their homes,
- NHS transport volunteers will move equipment, supplies or medication between sites.
- Check-in and chat volunteers will provide regular support calls to elderly people who are in isolation and at risk of loneliness.
- Volunteer matching has already started for patient transport, non-patient transport and check-in and chat tasks
- Community Response tasks will start to be rostered from today
The NHS Volunteers scheme has now been opened beyond just the shielded cohort – NHS and Local Authority referrals, as well as self-referrals, can be made for anyone that the referrer feels is vulnerable, but the 4 key tasks that volunteers can do remain the same.
Covid-19 Volunteers – Top Tips or Successful Dementia Conversations
Memory Matters have produced ‘top tips’ for successful conversations face to face, (2 metres apart), on the phone or online with someone living with dementia . To see more please Click here.