Covid-19/Coronavirus resuming activities

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This article sets out guidance on how you can safely engage volunteers as lockdown restrictions ease.

Guidance on resuming activities

Regardless of your organisation’s size, you need to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19 as you plan resumption of your activities. You have a responsibility and legal duty to protect your people (whether paid staff, volunteers or members of the public) from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practical to minimise them.

Before planning resumption of activities find out how your volunteers feel about returning:

  • Do they want to resume volunteering with you? Many probably will, but do not make assumptions. Lockdown may have prompted them to consider new activities.
  • Are they able to resume volunteering with you? Everyone must continue to follow government guidance for shielded people and those in high-risk groups, along with guidance on travel and use of public transport.
  • If volunteers are unable to continue volunteering with you, help them to consider other options. Direct them to our website or suggest they call us on 0131 225 0630.

In preparing for the phased resumption of your volunteers’ activities you should:

  • Identify what activities you can undertake at each phase of the easing of lockdown. This may be:
    • resumption (partial or whole) of previous activities
    • new or different ways of doing previous activities
    • completely new tasks or activities
  • Undertake risk assessments of all planned activities (see risk assessment template below).
  • Alongside your activities’ risk assessment, you may also want to assess the volunteers’ individual vulnerability to Covid-19. For doing so, you can use the Covid-age tool.
  • Check your Employers’/Public Liability insurance policies to ensure they provide adequate protection to you and your volunteers.
  • Be transparent in your communications with volunteers and keep their expectations realistic.
  • Ensure that information and guidelines about resumption of activities is clearly and consistently communicated to all volunteers, and that they agree to comply with the measures you are putting in place. You may wish to formalise this with written guidelines and agreement (see guidelines and agreement template below). It is essential that everyone involved with your organisation knows and understands what they can and cannot do.
  • Ensure all volunteers know who is responsible for their volunteering (manager/lead volunteer/Chair of management committee etc) and have contact details in case of emergencies.
  • The responsible person should know who and when is volunteering at any given time
  • Do not publically promote the time and place of intended events or activities to avoid the risk of large social gatherings.
  • Continually review your situation and amend when necessary e.g. in light of new government guidance, or as a result of your own experience.

This is also an opportunity for you to review your overall engagement of volunteers. Some organisations have processes for recruiting, training and supporting volunteers. Others are more informal. Whatever your structure it is important, now more than ever, to ensure that your volunteers have a good and safe experience. Volunteer Edinburgh can help with all aspects of your volunteer engagement, no matter how big or small your group. Our website explains how we can support you. Also, VolunteerWiki has resources, information and template policies, and you can call us on 0131 225 0630 too.

Risk assessment template

Click here.

Guidance and agreement for volunteers template

Click here.

Shared practice and guidance for volunteer management in NHSScotland

Although this guidance is focused on volunteering in NHSScotland, it provides suggestions for role development and the safe and measured return of volunteering that might be of interest to any volunteer-involving organisation.

Volunteering in NHSScotland COVID-19, Shared practice and guidance for volunteer management in NHSScotland.

Outdoor and greenspace activities

A positive feature of lockdown is that public appreciation and use of parks and greenspaces has increased. As an organisation involved in outdoor and greenspace work, you will obviously want to build on this and encourage people to continue their involvement in your activities. However you must proceed with caution and adhere to government guidance for each stage of the route map out of lockdown.

Outdoor and greenspace activities - Risk assessment template

Click here.

Outdoor and greenspace activities - Guidance and agreement for volunteers template

Click here.

Litter picking guidance and FAQ (Keep Scotland Beautiful)

Click here.

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More help?

If you would like more help or advice please contact Volunteer Edinburgh on 0131 225 0630 or email: hello@volunteeredinburgh.org.uk
Or you can drop in and see us:
Volunteer Edinburgh
222 Leith Walk, EH6 5EQ