For the latest guidance please see the Gov.uk website.
Many people want to volunteer at the moment to support the vulnerable, especially those who are forced to self-isolate. The love of neighbour is seen in action across London, not just in churches but also across the community.
However both the church and the London Resilience organisations have noticed that among those who genuinely wish to volunteer there are some who are taking the opportunity to prey on the vulnerable. As churches take initiatives to encourage their members to support their neighbours, here are some simple steps to stay safe.
- Check out whether or not there is a central volunteering hub in your borough. Many local authorities are establishing such hubs and it is good to work through them with their insurance, safeguarding and training if you would otherwise struggle to manage these areas yourselves. Also check with the police that your activity is one which they would support.
- Encourage people to be aware of scammers – check with your local trading standards and on citizens advice here.
- Make sure that any volunteers acting on behalf of the church in designated roles have a DBS check, have signed a confidential declaration, and are well known to you, and that their activity and role is clearly defined, preferably with a volunteer agreement. If necessary, have these DBS checked and trained volunteers take on an oversight role – eg handling any money (always working in pairs) and keeping an overview of people’s pastoral needs – whilst at the same time supervising other volunteers who may be deployed to drop off shopping, run other errands, or keep in touch occasionally by telephone with those who are isolated.
- Encourage others who in time could take on these oversight roles to apply now for a DBS check and to undertake C0 and C1 safeguarding training online, so that they can step in later if others are sick.
- Remember the need to ensure that you can follow through on offers which are made. In any pastoral contact it is not good practice to create a dependency. We are in this situation for the long haul and when the first flush of enthusiasm is over, and when a cohort of volunteers may be sick, it is necessary that work is sustainable.
- Make sure that volunteers work safely at all times, observing appropriate hand hygiene and physical distancing.
Churches are also encouraged to join with local WhatsApp groups or Twitter feeds or similar to support the local community and be present in these virtual spaces.
See also the London.gov website.
If you’re looking to make a difference during the COVID-19 crisis – or are a charity in need of more volunteers – please follow the link above. It is a regularly updated page featuring guidance for volunteers regarding local charities in need. If you represent a charity and want to be featured on this page, there is a link on the page to do so.
Self-isolation will be a particularly difficult time for many people in the community. Consider using these #ViralKindness leaflets to spread around your community and provide help to those who need it: click here to view the leaflet.