Information for groups delivering Covid-19 support services

General advice for charities and community groups



Information for groups delivering Covid 19 support services

Thinking about starting a new group

Please check if there is already a group in your area and offer them your support. If there is not a group in your area and you decided to start one, please let your local council know you are operating so they can signpost people to you.

Cambridgeshire County Council  has of a list of lead local groups offering support to people during the crisis. 

Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK now has groups set up all over the UK with neighbour groups setting up under its umbrella using whatsapp and face book. 

To find a local group or set one up see their webpage They also have some useful guidance on safeguarding, risk assessment and data protection to keep everyone safe. 

You can also contact us here at CCVS if you want to talk anything through

There are some useful short information films on safeguarding, tips on managing volunteers and things to consider when telephone befriending on the Support Cambridgeshire website



The Government have now produced Safeguarding Factsheet:Community Volunteers during COVID-19 outbreak and Coronavirus:How to help safely.  This includes guidance on whether criminal records checks are required.

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Adults & Children Partnership Boards have produced a Power Point presentation on Safeguarding for community volunteers  which gives a comprehensive basic outline of what most volunteers will need to know to safeguard adults and children.   Each group should appoint a safeguarding lead who familiarises themselves with this information.  Volunteers relate their concerns to the safeguarding lead who passes the information on (unless it is an emergency when the volunteer should ring 999)

If you have concerns that a child may be a risk of harm call:

Cambridgeshire children: 0345 045 5203

Peterborough children: 01733 864180 or

Out of Hours Emergency Duty Team (EDT): 01733 234724

If you have concerns that an adult may be at risk of harm call:

Cambridgeshire: 0345 045 5202

Peterborough 01733 747474

Out of Hours Emergency Duty Team (EDT): 01733 234724

We have produced a  a guide to Keeping everyone safe which looks at safeguarding and practical ideas on issues such as handling money and collecting prescriptions safely and Support Cambridgeshire have a useful video for volunteers Safeguarding Advice

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adults and Children Partnership Board has started to develop a suite of virtual training that will be available free of charge for anyone to access.
A new page has been added to the website to include all the free virtual learning resources and webinars.

Safeguarding Adults and Online Abuse around Covid-19 and Safeguarding for Community volunteers are available now


Data Protection

The regulator responsible for data protection The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) have produced a really useful blog Community groups and COVID-19: what you need to know about data protection To operate as an effective group ICO acknowledge that community groups will need to handle sensitive personal data and this guide will help you do that safely and legally. 

We are available to offer support and advice, in the first instance contact us on and we will get back to you promptly.


Health and safety

There is the possibility that volunteers and organisations directing them are held liable for any actions that cause harm (this could be to the volunteer or the person being helped). You should carefully consider any risks associated with your activity and take steps to mitigate them. The Health and Safety Executive has more information on general risks here.

We have more general health and safety information here.



If your group has funding available, you should consider insurance to cover claims made against the organisation for any injury or damage the volunteer has caused (Public liability insurance) or for injury to the volunteer themselves (Employers’ Liability insurance). If you employ staff employer’s liability is a legal requirement, however this is not the case if you only have volunteers.

During this crisis we are aware of groups obtaining competitive quotes from Ansvar and Access Insurance

You can find lists of other insurers and brokers on the VolResource website

There is a really good document about insurance for new and existing groups here

However where funding is not available Individuals volunteering informally might get some protection from The Social Action Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 which supports the activities of a volunteer who is acting for the benefit of society or intervening to help someone in an emergency. If something went wrong and the volunteer (or the organisation who had been directing the volunteer) was sued, a court would take the factors in the Act into account when determining whether he/she were negligent.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have stated that those using their cars to help their communities do not need to contact their insurer to update documents or extend cover.

For existing groups

If you are an existing group that is changing what you normally do so staff or volunteers are delivering different services you should talk to your current insurer and let them know about any changes.

This is backed up in the government advice on spontaneous volunteers written last year. (Read this here).       This talks about insurance on page 15. The report says "Insurers do not need to offer anything specific to spontaneous volunteers, but what is important is that the insurer knows, understands and accepts the position of the organisation towards the use of spontaneous volunteers."



In most cases groups set up to respond to this crisis will be linked in to an existing group and will make use of this group''s bank account this is the easiest way of doing things and you should do this if at all possible.

If this is not possible groups will have to set up a new account. Most banks and many building societies offer accounts suitable for community groups, but with the current restrictions on going out, and with many bank staff working from home this can be a problem and can take time.

It is important that you look for accounts that deliver the facilities you need, and this should include the need for two signatories. The Resource Centre highlights some bank accounts that are available for community groups.

Metro Bank Cambridge

We have spoken to Metro bank and they are looking at fast tracking accounts for groups working around supporting people in the current crisis. Like all bank accounts you will need to either visit to verify your ID or have a solicitor or accountant do it and send it to the bank. They have some advice

  1. Keep the number of people on the account to a minimum, and no more than 2.
  2. Ask if anyone in the group is on a metro bank account with another group or business, if so they will not have to visit to verify their ID.
  3. They are able to accept e signatures for forms where this is not normally possible, but you still need identification to be verified.
  4. Expect delays as many staff have been moved to other roles.

If you want to find out more contact James Zimmer-Smith, the store manager and/or


Money Handling

Updated 6 April

How do we keep everyone’s money safe?

Where a shopping recipient (or friend or relative acting on their behalf) is unable to shop online (very few supermarkets now have any slots available), the next option would be for the recipient or their relative to phone a local shop that will take card payments.(The local community group should identify any shops that will take telephone payments and make recipients aware of them).  A volunteer could then collect the paid for shopping providing any pre agreed proofs of identify. If that is not possible, and the volunteer must pay for the shopping, the approach will depend on whether the shopping is a private arrangement between neighbours or one organised by a local group.

Private arrangements: ideally payments should be made by bank transfer or Paypal to minimise the risk of passing on the virus, but if that’s not possible then the recipient could pay by cheque or cash[1].  It is not appropriate for volunteers to accept credit/debit cards from people asking for help in order to buy resources on their behalf as this is a safeguarding risk.

Group arrangements: where the volunteer has been allocated the shopping task and the group has a bank account it would be best practice for the task allocator to establish how the shopping recipient is able to pay for their shopping.  If the recipient can pay online or by telephone banking, payment should be made to the group once the shopping is delivered – this will safeguard the volunteers bank details and the volunteer is then repaid by the group. If this is not possible payment could be made by cheque or by cash to the volunteer.  If a shopping recipient does not have access to remote banking, does not have a relative who can help and does not have cheques or cash available the group would reimburse the volunteer and invoice the shopping recipient on the understanding that payment would become due once their isolation ends.

Prior to reimbursement volunteers should take a photo of each receipt and create a central record of any payments made. There should also be a central record of any concerns raised in respect of payments and make people aware of how they can raise a concern.

Some groups may be in the position to purchase prepaid cards (most larger retailers have them) that volunteers can use so there is no need for them to be out of pocket and the group then seeks payment from the shopping recipient.

A number of supermarkets have both launched contactless volunteer shopping cards, where the cards are bought online topped up with credit and then a barcode can be emailed to a volunteer which can be used to pay for shopping. AldiAsdaMorrisonsSainsbury’s Marks & Spencer and Waitrose.

Starling Bank are providing a debit card designed to be used by a volunteer who is a close family member to pay for shopping

The'Companion Card' - Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank has launched a new card designed specifically for people caring for vulnerable people. The card is linked to the person's current account, but they can only deposit up to £100 onto the card every five days. Card details, pins etc. are not shared onto the card, and cash withdrawals are limited to £50. 

Post Office Payout – before the pandemic, this system was only available in the Post Office but now many banks and building societies have also signed up. An isolated person asks their bank/building society to send a one-time barcode to the volunteer (it can be text, email or post). The volunteer takes this into the bank/building society, and they can draw out the amount of cash designated to that barcode. Not all banks are doing this, so check with your bank first.  

To reduce the risk of fraudsters imitating community volunteers, recipients should not make any payments until the shopping is delivered with a receipt. We also recommend that volunteers do not make purchases larger than £30 per household.

Setting up to take card payments without a card reader

PayaCharity are able to offer:

The company need to do a ‘know your business check’ (relatively easy for a registered charity), the group need a bank account and an authorised applicant.  They then create a ‘merchant account’ and you are then able to take payments.  There is a card processing payment of 2.3% or 30p minimum.

Other providers are available but PayaCharity offered a clear and straightforward response and once they have the scanned proofs can set an account up by the next day.  CCVS have been talking to their business development manager Mike Greenall .  He is willing to help groups work out what they need to provide so they can get set up quickly.

[1] The World Health Organisation advised washing hands after handling money but have not issued a warning about using banknotes


Leafleting and post

Public Health England’s advice on handling post for businesses can be accessed: (updated 25/3/20)

This states that:

Staff should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of working; there are no additional precautions needed for handling post or packages”

Hence, our advice would be to minimise these risks by taking the following precautions:

Maintaining good hand hygiene:

This should include washing hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling leaflets.  Handling of leaflets should be kept to the minimum (for instance printed notes may be preferable to handwritten notes).  Anyone with possible symptoms of COVID 19 (or with a household member in the 14 day quarantine period) should not be involved in leaflet production or delivery and should follow the self- isolation/household quarantine guidelines: (updated 10/9/20)



General advice for charities and community groups

Useful links

There is lots of advice on the  NCVO website  

The Government have now produced Safeguarding Factsheet:Community Volunteers during COVID-19 outbreak and Coronavirus:How to help safely

The Small Charities Coalition have produced a briefing materials

The Charity Commission are regularly updating their guidance here

Any charity that needs to file annual returns during the coronavirus outbreak can contact the Charity Commission for an extension to time limits 

There are lots of helpful articles and links on the Catalyst website


Ideas on how to keep your volunteers engaged during lockdown

Many organisations are now out of physical contact with their volunteers as we self-isolate, but we know groups are still working to keep their volunteers engaged ready to step back into the fray when the situation improves.   

Groups are also concerned volunteers may also be missing the camaraderie of volunteering and have started to think about ways to address this.   We have pulled together some ideas on keeping your volunteers engaged - this is a starting point and not intended to be an exhaustive list, please let us have your ideas and recommendations/

Useful online learning available to staff and volunteers includes National Careers Service The skills toolkit


Information on funding and financial support

The situation is obviously fluid and this means that advice will change and you should ensure you are up to date.  If you are a registered charity you will be able to access some support from the Government .  At present this includes:

Business interruption loans - Charities that raise at least 50% from trade can apply but need to be able to pay it back.  

Deferral of VAT payments for those who are VAT registered you can find out how to defer your payments.

Good Finance have produced A guide for navigating funding possibilities during Covid-19 which includes a summary of the support available.

The Charity Finance Group are providing daily updates on the situation 

The DSC website has a list of funding sources that might be able to help cover costs.

There are also a number of funds being made available to charities which we will include in our regular bulletin - if you aren't already sign up here

There are some useful factsheets on which include information on loss of income, contingency planning, setting up an informal group and staying safe when volunteering.

If your group is commissioned by public bodies take a look at this article as the government has issued guidelines for commissioners.


If you are extending your activities

If you are extending your activities to meet local need during this crisis, risk assess  and contact your insurance provider to make them aware. 

This article from Ansvar insurance provides advice on employees working from home, unoccupied premises and highlights the need to consult your insurer on any additional activities you are undertaking.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have stated that those using their cars to help their communities do not need to contact their insurer to update documents or extend cover.


Guidance on HR

We also recommend the ACAS site for information on staffing issues ACAS recently ran and advisory webinar for employers View the recording here

You might also find this site useful


Rules on carrying over holiday leave

Mills & Reeve Charity law blog: Employment rules on carrying over annual leave relaxed because of Coronavirus                                                    Posted: 09 Apr 2020

Charities with employees should be aware of new emergency regulations which came into force on 26 March, relaxing the normal rules on the carrying over of annual leave.

Workers will now be able to carry over up to 4 weeks’ annual leave into the next two leave years if they are not able to take it because of the Coronavirus.

Under the normal rules, Working Time Directive leave cannot be carried over. The changes give employers more flexibility, while protecting workers’ rights to annual leave, and will be particularly welcomed in sectors working non-stop in the coming weeks in the national effort against the Coronavirus (for example, the health and care sector).

For more detail on the rule changes, head over to their blog hr law live.


Data protection and coronavirus: what you need to know

The Information Commissioner’s Office is aware that many groups are having to change the way they are working and may also be called on to respond to issues quickly and that this is causing concerns around data protection.  

‘We know you might need to share information quickly or adapt the way you work. Data protection will not stop you doing that. It’s about being proportionate - if something feels excessive from the public’s point of view, then it probably is.'

The ICO has published questions from groups and the answers it has given on its website


Tips for avoiding cybercrime

Cybercrime on the increase during pandemic

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) says there has been an increase in cybercrime - with coronavirus being used as a main theme.

They have produced some resources which provide advice for individuals and organisations on how to deal with this new trend.

Also they have produced guides on the following issues which may be on interest to you currently:

Home working: preparing your organisation and staff

Phishing attacks: defending your organisation

Top tips for staying secure online


Finance systems and home working

Some top tips on how you can keep up to date with finances whilst working at home.

From our friends at Hunts Forum.    Take me there.


Cashflow and budgets

Some important tips around Cash Flow and Budgets

From our friends at Hunts Forum     Take me there.


We are available to offer support and advice, in the first instance contact us on and

we will get back to you promptly