Coronavirus (Covid-19) advice for volunteers

19 July 2021

We've provided practical guidance and advice for individuals preparing to restart volunteering activity post Covid-19 restrictions.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced on Tuesday 13th July that Scotland will move to a "modified" form of level 0 of the five-tier system from the 19th July.

From Monday 19th July:

  • Face masks will remain mandatory.
  • Physical distancing will reduce to 1 metre in all indoor public settings and outdoors.
  • Informal social gatherings of up to 15 people from 15 households will be permitted outdoors without physical distancing.
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people from four households will be permitted in all indoor public settings with 1 metre physical distancing.
  • Under-12s will no longer count towards the number of households that can gather indoors in public spaces and homes.
  • Hospitality settings can open till midnight, if their current licence permits that, and customers will no longer be required to pre-book a two-hour slot to go to a pub or restaurant but will still be required to provide contact details to assist Test & Protect.
  • Up to 200 people will be able to gather at weddings and funerals.
  • Employers are asked to continue to support home working where possible until we move beyond Level 0.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers coming from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate.


If you are resuming volunteer activity with an organisation, please consider the following advice:

1. Does the organisation have a Business Continuity Plan or a Covid-19 policy?

This is the starting point for practical advice that will apply to volunteering. Read it and digest it. If volunteering is not included, advocate to leadership that information on volunteers be added asap.

2. Can you, as a volunteer, clearly communicate your needs?

Check that there is a clear system in place for getting in touch with your organisation (e.g. when cancelling a shift). If you're unsure of what this is, ask. Also, make sure that your emergency contact details are up to date.  It's important that you can discuss honestly your situation and that managers / organisations exercise their duty of care towards you. 

3. Remember volunteering is a choice, freely made.

If you decide not to volunteer for any reason your organisation will support your decision, including and up to a decision to temporarily suspend your own volunteering at this time. Please take all necessary precautions if you are immunocompromised or live with/care for someone who is immunocompromised. 

4. Does your volunteering meet the tests set by the Volunteer Charter?

Specifically, the Volunteer Charter states that 'Volunteers and paid workers should be able to carry out their duties in safe, secure and healthy environments'. Whilst the charter helps safeguard jobs (making clear the distinction between volunteering and paid work) it should not be interpreted as preventing a volunteering effort which is clearly welcomed by all parties, at this time.

5. Be clear on when to self-isolate.

Anyone testing positive for or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are still required to isolate for 10 days. Symptoms include:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate immediately. If you have a positive test result but do not have symptoms, stay at home and self-isolate as soon as you receive the results. Your household needs to isolate too. Full details here

Travellers who are fully vaccinated through a UK vaccination programme and children arriving into Scotland from Amber List countries will no longer be required to self-isolate and take a day eight test, but adults and children over 12 will still take tests before travelling and on day two after arrival.

6. Be clear on what to do if you become unwell whilst volunteering?

This advice is based on that provided by NHS inform. If you develop any of the COVID-19 symptoms, please inform your volunteer manager or another manager immediately and go home to self-isolate or if you are seriously unwell, call NHS 111 or dial 999. Please:

  • Keep at least 2 meters away from others
  • Avoid touching anything
  • Advise your volunteer manager (or other manager) of any areas you’ve been to or surfaces you may have touched in the office
  • Advise of anyone you’ve been in close contact with since feeling unwell
  • If you are able to drive home, you should do so. If you have arrived by public transport or car share, you should arrange a taxi or a driver to take you home.
  • If you are seriously unwell and require medical attention, we advise you be isolated while you wait for advice or an ambulance.

Your organisation should arrange for an office deep clean after any affected volunteer has left the building.

7. Follow best practice to prevent catching or spreading Coronavirus.

This advice is based on that provided by NHS inform. This was current at time of publish, as follows:  

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Avoid crowded places.
  • Clean hands and surfaces regularly. Wash your hands regularly with soap & hot water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands when you arrive at work & get home. Use hand sanitizer gel if no soap & water is available.
  • Stay 2m away from other people..
  • Self-isolate and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Avoid physical contact with others as far as possible including shaking hands or hugging.

Should you be given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to carry out your volunteering? If you are volunteering with beneficiaries, or you yourself are, at higher threat of serious complications, take all recommended precautions. This includes use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as and when guided by your organisation.

8. Get involved in planning around volunteering.

Volunteers should be included in decision-making around plans and policies affecting them. Having volunteers at the table will ensure that concerns are heard and addressed.

Organisations should ask their volunteers about their availability to continue volunteering. For those with high availability, they should be asked if they would be willing to increase their volunteering temporarily to help fill gaps. Organisations should track responses and keep a database/spreadsheet of volunteers who anticipate availability in certain situations.

Work with organisational leaders to prioritize programming/services delivered by volunteers and determine where volunteering services should be focused if there is a significant decrease in availability.

9. Consider if and how you can work remotely.

You may need to volunteer from home. Your organisation should determine what considerations need to be made around infrastructure, equipment and processes required to allow you to volunteer remotely and the ongoing support you need.

10. Avoid large-scale volunteer events or face-to-face training until it is clearly safe to do so.

Social distancing should be maintained (amongst other measures) and events that draw large crowds outdoors or even smaller gatherings indoors are still tightly controlled. The advice is changing and so it is best to regularly review the Coronavirus local protection levels from the Scottish Government.

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