Guidance for volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic
Northern Ireland restrictions may have changed recently. Make sure you understand the current restrictions in place - what you can and cannot do.
Guidance if a volunteer is helping you can be found at the following page:
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.
Where possible, you should volunteer from home. If you cannot do so, you can volunteer outside your home, if you are able to meet the regulations and guidelines applicable at that time
Information including ‘when you can help', ‘who you can help’ and ‘how you can help’ is available:
If you volunteer via an organisation you should contact that organisation for advice to find out if it is safe for you to volunteer. Many organisations will have their own policies in place to make sure you can volunteer safely.
If you run a volunteer-involving organisation or group, or manage volunteers, read general guidance:
Vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable people who wish to volunteer
If you are vulnerable, including aged over 70, you should be especially careful. Follow social distancing and minimise contact with others. While you can volunteer outside of your home, you should first consider volunteering from your home.
70 year olds and over
While there is no upper age limit on volunteering some organisations’ insurance policies have age related restrictions - for example, they do not cover you if you’re under 16 or over a certain age.
It is recognised that those aged 70 and over can be absolutely fit and healthy and it’s not the case that everybody over 70 has a chronic health condition or an underlying disease. But unfortunately, as you get older, there is a higher risk of coronavirus having a more serious impact with infection. Complications and deaths are more common in older people, even those without pre-existing conditions.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you can volunteer from home. You are advised not to volunteer outside your home.
How to apply to become a volunteer
You can also apply to volunteer through your Local Council, a charity or organisation.
Volunteer Now - #HelpEachOther
Volunteer Now launched its ‘#HelpEachOther’ campaign to help safeguard those most at risk in the community and in response to the high number of people wishing to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you would like to volunteer, or you are an organisation with volunteering opportunities, you can find out more or register your interest:
Note: The call for NHS Responders via the GoodSam App is for England only and is currently paused.
Stay safe as a volunteer
If you are volunteering outside your home, 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.
Observe the following key behaviours:
- hands - wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- face - wear a face covering in accordance with current face-coverings-guidance
- space – maintain a social distance of at least two metres between you and anyone outside of your household
If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.
If you are volunteering in a workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines.
Within workplaces, the risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if Coronavirus: Workplace safety guidelines and social distancingare followed closely. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
Disposing of face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
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, volunteers and customers to dispose of single-use face coverings and PPE, and should ensure that staff, volunteers and customers do not use a recycling bin.
If you or someone in your household show symptoms
If you or someone in your household starts to show symptoms, or if you are at high risk of severe symptoms yourself, then you must stay at home.
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.
You can find information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing and contact tracing - including what happens if you test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.
If you are worried about someone’s health
If you are worried about someone’s health, guidance on next step is available:
If you are worried about someone’s mental health, encourage them to get help and support.
Volunteer Now has information sheets about COVID 19.
The Public Health Authority (PHA) has resources for organisations and individuals responding to COVID-19:
The resources features items that may be useful for council teams and community groups/volunteers responding to COVID-19. Some may be helpful for staff and volunteers for their own wellbeing, and others may be helpful for them in carrying out their role during COVID-19.
The Department of Communities has published a Protocol for Regulated Activity - such as handling cash on behalf of a vulnerable person.
More useful links
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: family and community
- Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines