OCVA has compiled a list of some questions which have come in about volunteering during the COVID-19 situation and the answers. These may help you as organisations looking for volunteers and also people wishing to volunteer.

Please note that none of our team are lawyers and the information provided is to the best of our knowledge at the time.

Question

How can volunteers pay securely for shopping or other items for vulnerable people?

Answer

https://ocva.org.uk/2020/04/27/payment-methods-for-shopping-done-by-volunteers-for-others-during-covid-19/

Question

As an organisation/group, how can I get my volunteering opportunities up on oxonvolunteers quickly?

Answer

There are 3 options:

  1. If you are already registered on oxonvolunteers.org you have full admin rights to your account. Log in and go to your account, select manage account and from the drop down menu, select create opportunity. Then click Create Quick Opp and complete the form. In the main category, select Coronavirus (covid-19) Pandemic.  We will then do the rest for you and authorise the opportunity.

2. If you are not registered with us, please register, and then create the opportunity as in option 1 above. We will then authorise you as a provider and your volunteering opportunity

3. Alternatively for the emergency period,  you can just email us your opportunity details and contact information to vol@ocva.org.uk and we will temporarily put it on our emergency page Call for Volunteer Army for Oxfordshire

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Question

How are volunteers affected by the lockdown?

What kind of volunteering can I do ?

How can I volunteer safely ?

Answer

Please see Volunteering information on Government website:  Coronavirus: How to help safely:

Volunteering that requires going out of the house is now only permitted in certain circumstances. If you are well and are not at risk from coronavirus you can volunteer:

    • If you are helping vulnerable people
    • If volunteering cannot be done from home, whether related to the coronavirus response or not

Examples include

  • Delivering food
  • Helping people with their medical needs, such as picking up prescriptions
  • Providing essential care or to help a vulnerable person or person(s), including through essential public and voluntary services, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions
  • Leaving home to help a vulnerable person can be done through an organisation, or as an individual.
  • If volunteers must leave the house, they should spend as little time away from home as possible and follow government advice on social distancing.
  • Any volunteer may be stopped by the police and will be expected to explain why they are not at home. Send your volunteer a text or email listing their activities/tasks with your name and contact number, so they can show them. Be available on the phone in case the police call you to verify any details.
  • Gatherings of more than two people in public are currently banned, so make sure that volunteers understand this before they leave home.
  • Read the NCVO blog post for more information on volunteering during the lockdown.

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Question

We would however like to instigate a more managed volunteering opportunity on a farm with about 4-6 known volunteers on site at a time – with strict guidelines with regards to social distancing and hand washing and strict surface cleaning protocols in place (already written and we feel very enforceable). The aim of the volunteering is to enable us to maintain and even increase our food growing capacity to be able to increase the availability of fresh food to those in need as the pandemic unfolds.

Do you think these sessions are possible in the coming months or contravene guidance around staying indoors – I don’t think what we are saying is very different to working on an allotment?

Answer

The government’s guidance: Closing certain businesses and venues (see the table in section 1) – does not included your proposed project. So our reading here at OCVA is that you can carry on with the proposed sessions. However, the situation is constantly changing and if it worsens, they may tighten the rules even further. So please do check with the previous link or ocva.org.uk regularly to be kept up to date.

The relevant act, The Health Protection Regulations 2020, will be enforced by the Environmental Health and Trading Standards. Therefore to be absolutely sure you could contact Oxfordshire Trading Standards, or email Environmental Health foodsafety@oxford.gov.uk or telephone them on 0808 223 1133.  

Additional information:

Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Sections that may be relevant to you are:

 Food processing  Food safety practices in food processing plants should continue to be delivered to the highest hygiene standards including the use of some personal protective equipment and frequent hand washing.

All employers are expected to follow social distancing guidance, including food businesses, as far as is reasonably possible. Where the production environment makes it difficult to do so, employers should consider what measures may be put in place to protect employees. Once staff have left the food processing areas and removed protective clothing, social distancing and further hand washing guidance should be adhered to.

Food business operators should continue to follow the Food Standard Agency’s guidance on good hygiene practices in food preparation and their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) processes.

Outdoor food markets / farmers markets The main concern with outdoor food markets is to avoid crowds gathering. Local Authorities may have decided to close such markets as part of actions taken to maintain social distancing.

Where markets are still in operation, we encourage food market operators to consider how they can safely sell their products without encouraging crowds and ensure hygiene measures are in place. This can be done by:

  • taking orders online or by telephone in advance and pre-packing orders to limit face-to-face time in the market
  • considering delivery services if possible

Additional guidance can be found at:

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Question

Do our volunteers need DBS checks when working with adults and how do we get them quickly?

Answer

A NCVO flowchart detailing what is regulated activity is available at:

https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/tools-resources/volunteers-and-the-law/vulnerable-clients/AppendixB.PNG

The government has put a free fast track system for DBS checks in place. See:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-of-charge-dbs-applications-and-fast-track-barred-list-check-service

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Question

Do our volunteers need DBS checks when working with children and how do we get them quickly? 

 Answer

A NCVO flowchart detailing what is regulated activity is available at

https://knowhow.ncvo.org.uk/tools-resources/volunteers-and-the-law/vulnerable-clients/AppendixA.PNG

 

The government has put a free fast track system for DBS checks in place. See

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-of-charge-dbs-applications-and-fast-track-barred-list-check-service