Ten things volunteers should know about coronavirus

1. Contagion: protect yourself

Covid - 19 is a respiratory virus which spreads through microscopic droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes (sometimes after lying on hard surfaces like door handles, hand rails or computers). People can spread the virus for up to two weeks before they themselves display any symptoms.

As a volunteer or carer, you can leave your house to help someone who needs looking after. But when you are doing this, you need to do so safely. Minimise the time you spend outside your home and make sure you keep 2 metres (6 feet) from anyone outside of your household.

2. Contagion: protect others

To protect others when volunteering:

  • limit the time you spend outside your own home for example by picking up their food or medicine with yours

  • stay outside other people’s homes - especially if they are at a higher risk from coronavirus or have symptoms

  • do not exchange money (coins or notes)

  • stay at least 2 metres (6 ft) away if you do not live with them

  • regularly wash your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds

  • if you are delivering anything (such as food or medicines) do not touch the items with your bare hands – use gloves or bags.

If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others

3. Basic hygiene

To help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially

  • when leaving or returning home

  • if you cannot wash your hands, use a hand sanitiser when

  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash

  • your hands

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

  • avoid contact with people who have symptoms

  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces 

4. Government guidance: social distancing

“Social distancing” is a range of measures designed to reduce physical contact and so reduce infections. At present, people are asked to stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or work (if they cannot work from home).

If your volunteer role requires you to go out, always stay 2 metres (6 ft) away from other people. Always follow this guidance even if you do not show symptoms.

5. Shielding and people deemed “extremely vulnerable”

People with particular conditions are considered to be “extremely vulnerable” to Covid-19 and will receive a letter from the NHS asking them to shield and:

  • Not leave their house.

  • Not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, family homes, weddings and religious services.

  • Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough.

The Government is currently advising people to shield until the end of June and is regularly monitoring this position.

6. Very vulnerable people

People over the age of 70 are considered to have raised vulnerability, even if they have no underlying health condition. This also applies to those who are pregnant.


7. Avoid unnecessary contact

Keep 2 metres apart at all times.

Where possible, do not exchange money. Talk to your host organisation about any systems they have to help with this.


8. If you display symptoms

If you develop any Covid-19 symptoms (a high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough) you must self-isolate for seven days and anyone who lives with you must self-isolate for fourteen days.


9. Other people displaying symptoms

If anyone living with you develops any Covid-19 symptoms (a high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough) then you must self-isolate for fourteen days.

If anyone you are working with develops systems, then they must. If any service users develop symptoms, they must self-isolate for seven days. Be sure that you discuss their situation with your host organisation as they may need other support during this time.


10. Getting support

A ‘clinically extremely vulnerable person’ can register and request support via the Gov website. Anyone can contact their local council or local CVS to find out what support is available. Many councils have a website or telephone number where people can request help.

Within Hertfordshire, there is the HertsHelp line: 0300 123 4044.

Gov.uk gives guidance to volunteers on How to help safely.