Volunteering and Coronavirus Portal
As lockdown eases, organisations need to think about how staff and volunteers can continue to work safely. We have sample policies and risk assessments available for you to download and use on the Volunteer COVID-19 Portal
Scottish Government advice is that remote working should remain the default for all of those who can. If your organisation has successfully moved to home working and digital service delivery this might mean that you do not need to reopen physical services or premises for some time.
In this clip Jason Leitch (National Clinical Director) discusses why the majority of offices should remain closed:
If you do decide you need to reopen you have a duty of care towards staff and volunteers. You must do all you reasonably can to support their health, wellbeing and safety.
You should talk as early as possible about any plans to return to work. ACAS recommend talking about:
- when staff might return to the workplace
- how staff will travel to and from work
- how health and safety is being reviewed and managed – you should share the your latest risk assessment
- any planned adjustments to the workplace, for example additional hand washing facilities, staggering start and finish times to avoid overcrowding or floor markings to help people keep 2 metres apart
- if there might be a phased return of the workforce, for example some staff returning before others
- working from home arrangements
ACAS also recommend consulting with trade union, employee and health and safety representatives. Employers should check any agreements they have with a trade union or employee representatives to see if they must formally consult.
Wherever possible, you should speak to staff before making a decision or putting plans in writing. This can help staff understand, and feel included in, decisions. If you are reopening premises you will need to assess risks and make the workplace safe.
Please visit the SCVO website for more information on leaving lockdown and how to support your staff and volunteers throughout.
Volunteer Centre Western Isles supports the COVID-19 response in the following ways:
- Find you a volunteer opportunity, where possible and safe to do so;
- Support to COVID-19 volunteers who have signed up to help through the Scottish Governments Ready Scotland site;
- Help to promote local volunteer roles related to the COVID-19 community response;
- Providing advice and guidance on volunteering safely when dealing with vulnerable members of the public;
- Support to community groups and organisations with volunteer management, sample policies;
- Signposting to TSIWI partners for funding advice and support;
- Communicate with local volunteers and organisations to let them know what is happening and connect them where relevant
Sample policies to help you to safely engage volunteers as lockdown restrictions ease.
The Volunteer Centre is a hub for Community Clean up hub for Keep Scotland Beautiful – contact us for litter picking kits and local information.
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.
**New** online course available:
Keeping Volunteers Safe: Restarting your Volunteer Programme
This new course by Volunteer Scotland covers the essential things you need to consider to ensure a positive experience for individuals returning to volunteering following suspension of programmes in response to Covid-19. The overall aim is to help you prepare your volunteers, organisation and colleagues to return to supporting volunteer involvement in your work.
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 01851700366
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.
Any questions? Get in touch with any questions – we are here to help!