Volunteering during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

There are different ways to volunteer during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However the most important thing you can do to fight COVID-19 is to follow social distancing guidance. This will help control the virus and save lives.

Guidance for volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic

The following guidance applies to Northern Ireland only. There is a different process for WalesScotland and England.

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 apply to volunteer through Volunteer Now or your nearest Volunteer Centre.

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:

NHS Responders

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

Other guidance includes guidelines on staying safe and in particular Staying safe when helping others.

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. 

Further information

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


Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:

For queries or advice about land registry, email:

For mapping queries, email:

What to do next

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) section, then for queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.