Restarting your volunteer programme: what you need to know

15 September 2020

As we move through the phases of lockdown there are many things to consider before restarting your volunteering activities.

We want to ensure that you have familiarised yourself with all Government guidance and you are always considering the safest options for you and your volunteers.

It is important to remember that volunteering should be a free choice and if volunteers can volunteer from home they should continue to do so.

The first thing to consider is whether your area of volunteering can return. In our blog ‘going through the phases’, we have clearly listed (by date) the different areas that have seen an ease in lockdown restrictions since June, including the latest updates from 10th Sept. The Scottish Government website has also listed specific guidance for different areas, that might be relevant to your organisation. Some linked below:


In this short video via SCVO, Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, outlines issues to consider if you are planning to restart face to face support services:


Once you have confirmed whether can return you should then consider whether you should. Our new free online course‘Keeping Volunteers Safe: Restarting your Volunteer Programme’covers the essential things you need to consider to ensure a positive experience for individuals returning to volunteering. It will help you judge if it is appropriate to scale up/fully restart your volunteer programme; consider what needs to happen before and when you restart; draw on the core values and guidance around volunteer practice to keep volunteers safe, plus much more.  The course is accessed via the Open University and allows you to learn in your own time.

You should also ensure that risk assessments are carried out as part of the planning process. The aim of the risk assessment is to evaluate risks and hazards, then remove that hazard or minimize the level of its risk by adding control measures, as necessary. These are essential at this time to ensure you are not putting your volunteers or yourself at further risk.  HSE have provided a helpful What to include in your COVID-19 risk assessment guidance doc. Volunteering Matters also have a ‘Risk Assessment Template’ available to download on their site, including other specific Risk Assessment guidance in their Volunteer Safely section.


Key things to consider (specific to indoor venues):

Your organisation should implement additional measures to help limit the risk of coronavirus transmission in your working environments.

  • Limit the number of people in your building / working together at any given time.
  • Stagger start and finish times – this will help avoid peak public transport times as well limit the amount of people in your building at one time.
  • Add clear floor markings to help people maintain physical distancing
  • More regular cleaning – particularly in communal spaces (kitchens and bathrooms)
  • Introducing a one-way system (if possible) to reduce further contact
  • Display public health messages throughout the premises. The Scottish Government ‘We Are Scotland’ Campaign Toolkit provides you with posters and media assets to download and use.
  • Create hand sanitising stations
  • Ask volunteers/workers to wear masks


In this short vide Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, outlines the key points to consider if you are responsible for a shared use community building.


More relevant related resources: