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Tips for setting up a volunteer group to respond to Covid-19

People and communities need help now more than ever.  If you want to respond by setting up a local volunteer group, follow these top tips.

  • Identify a core team to run the group – we wouldn’t recommend one person taking on all the responsibility.
  • Ensure roles are clearly identified, such as volunteer coordinator, promoter of group, link person to other services etc.
  • Clearly set out your priorities – what do you want to do and achieve? More importantly, what can’t you do?
  • Do some research – don’t duplicate the work of other volunteer groups covering your patch – see what’s being done and establish what value you can add or additional services you can provide. Speak to your ward coordinators
  • All new volunteers should be supported by the group to ensure they fully understand their volunteer role and the boundaries which need to be put in place due to COVID-19, such as volunteer agreement, health and safety, lone working, confidentiality, safeguarding, handling money, confidentiality.
  • Create a basic volunteer registration form that also sets out the do’s and don’ts of your group including safety and confidentiality arrangements.
  • Make your presence known to other local organisations/ services so you can coordinate resources as much as possible – such as GP surgeries, parish councils, local charities – people will not likely want to be bombarded from lots of different groups.
  • Get a system in place that allows remote working – set up conference calls using FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.
  • Use WhatsApp or similar messaging services – it allows you to communicate remotely in real time.
  • Create material within your local community to tell them about the service you are providing. It just needs to be a simple, clear one-sheet of information.
  • Create a log/spreadsheet of requests which will allow you to manage priorities and identify gaps.
  • Treat clients’ information in the strictest confidence, in line with General Data Protection Regulations 2018.
  • Provide some simple manual handling advice to your volunteers.
  • Have first aid procedures and ensure you keep a first aid book.
  • Finally, look out for one another – this is a difficult time for everyone so regularly check that your team members are ok and ask if they need to talk.

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