Volunteers have made a huge difference during the pandemic. Here’s how to keep your volunteers safe in line with Welsh Government guidance when supporting their communities.
Volunteering efforts both formally and informally have made a huge difference to individuals and communities in Wales since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This type of support enables people to self-isolate where needed and to stay connected.
Now as the infection rate is at its highest and more highly contagious new strains of the virus are prevalent, it has never been more important to ensure that volunteer support is carried out safely. Below is a quick guide for organisations and community-based networks who are looking to make their volunteers’ experience as safe as possible. For more detailed guidance, check out our guidance on community response and safe practice.
HOW CAN WE ENSURE SAFE VOLUNTEERING?
- Organisations should carry out a risk assessment of volunteer activity (and of volunteers themselves) and put in place appropriate measures to minimise infection.
- They should train and support volunteers to carry out their roles in a safe manner. Experienced volunteers may be redeployed to more urgent or high-risk activity in some cases, as necessary.
- Wherever possible, organisations should adapt volunteering roles so that volunteering can take place from home, using for example the phone or internet.
- During COVID-19 voluntary organisations have come to work in close collaboration, drawing on one another’s strengths and expertise. For example, local community transport schemes may be well placed to safely transport individuals to health appointments including vaccinations.
- Key messages must be reinforced with volunteers about the need to follow agreed protocols, including hygiene measures and maintaining social distancing as far as possible.
- For many volunteers, meeting with others is an important part of the experience. Recognising this, many organisations are finding ways to introduce opportunities for volunteers to connect with one another online, for group discussion or social activity.
Community networks operate in local neighbourhoods, involving volunteers in responding to individual needs on a task-based basis.
They too are responsible for ensuring safe practice, for example by issuing training and guidance to those who volunteer and providing information to beneficiaries on how to keep safe and what they can expect from volunteers.
We have recently updated our guidance on community response and safe practice during lockdown.
This guidance, which contains useful information for people wishing to volunteer and for those who are organising community response initiatives, has been written to help support the incredible community volunteer response that has been generated by the onset of COVID-19.