The Office for Civil Society (part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) has issued new guidance on volunteering during the second lockdown in England, which is set to last from Thursday 5 November until at least Wednesday 2 December 2020.
New national restrictions will be in force across England, but voluntary and charitable activities are exempt from some of the restrictions, so it is vital that volunteer coordinators and managers can work out which of their projects and tasks will be allowed to continue in the weeks ahead.
The guidance was issued to volunteer centre managers and VCSE sector umbrella organisations by the Policy Advisor of the Volunteering Team at the Office for Civil Society.
- Volunteer from home where possible. If a volunteer role cannot be done from home, you must obey social distancing guidance and make sure nobody in your household has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus before volunteering.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people with serious health conditions are advised to only volunteer from home. In August 2020, the Office for National Statistics estimated there are 2.2 million CEV people in England.
- If a venue or site has not been told to close, and volunteering activities cannot be done from home, you are allowed to continue with volunteers on-site. However, managers of a venue or site may choose to close for lockdown or stand down volunteers even if not told to do so.
- Voluntary and charity activities are exempt from some of the new regulations on meeting others; volunteers are allowed to meet in groups of any size, indoors or outdoors, if volunteering outside the home.
- Volunteers are allowed to travel to and from their volunteering role, and to travel during their volunteer shifts.
- Volunteering must continue to be a personal choice, whether home-based or outside the home, and organisations or groups shouldn’t pressure volunteers to carry on.
- Any organisation using volunteers must make sure their workplace fits coronavirus safety standards.
Updated guidance for volunteer-involving organisations will be published by the Office for Civil Society very soon.
If you need support from Voscur connected to volunteering during the pandemic, don’t forget we have a new online peer support network for COVID-19 response groups, plus a range of resources from lockdown earlier this year. Our Development Team is also on hand to answer any questions – just fill out the online form and we’ll get back to you.