Guidance on “Vulnerable” Volunteers

Guidance on “Vulnerable” Volunteers

Clinically Vulnerable Volunteers

Anyone can volunteer. However, you should make sure volunteers, staff and service users are as safe as they can be.

All volunteering roles should be risk assessed and risks minimised to acceptable levels as part of your duty of care to your volunteers.

Decisions should be based on the specific risks considering:

  • the role
  • the physical and social environment
  • an individual’s circumstances.

Since the Stay Alert guidance was released, organisations are deciding whether or when to bring volunteers back on-site. Remember, there has never been a blanket rule stopping people from volunteering – if people cannot complete their volunteering from home, or they need to leave the house to support vulnerable people, then they can do so.

But a risk assessment should be carried out, including:

  • The role being carried out
  • The individual completing that role

Talking to volunteers about specific risks rather than blanket policies can help volunteers understand decisions you make and help avoid unnecessarily extreme policies.

The government is continually updating its guidance on the risks presented in certain workplace settings which can help you to manage risk.

Volunteers are often grouped with service users or employees on insurance policies, but it is worth checking if you are unsure.

Those who are self-isolating because they, or someone they live with, feels unwell should not leave the home, including to volunteer. These people should only volunteer from home while they are isolating, and only if they are well enough.

Those who are extremely clinically vulnerable (also known as shielding) should follow the government’s guidance to stay at home where possible. Organisations should continue to encourage shielded people to do this.

Everyone else should continue to stay at home as much as possible, work or volunteer from home if they can, and limit contact with other people. Those who are clinically vulnerable (aged over 70, pregnant or with an underlying health condition) should take particular care when choosing to leave the home, however there are no specific restrictions on them volunteering.

Showing symptoms

Self isolate / stay at home

Extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded)

You’re strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact to protect yourself.

Clinically vulnerable (high risk)

You are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.


It is still very important that people stay home.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) volunteering

There are different ways to volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic depending on whether you can go out.

Volunteering if you’re not at high risk

You can volunteer if:

You can:

  • shop for food and medicine (online, or in person)
  • deliver food and medicine
  • help with food banks and homeless services

  • You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.
  • With the exception of the organisations covered in guidance, the government has not required any other businesses to close.
  • All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.
  • As soon as practicable, workplaces should be set up to meet the new COVID-19 secure guidelines.