• Increase Text
  • High Contrast Mode

COVID-19 and Volunteer Management

We have developed some important information for you to refer to, as Volunteer Managers and Coordinators, supporting your volunteers during this epidemic.

Volunteer Management and the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.

As part of the Voluntary and Community sector, we are all facing uncertain times and dealing with unprecedented situations. Coming together during a time like this is essential and with this in mind, we have developed some important information for you to refer to, as Volunteer Managers and Coordinators, supporting your volunteers during this epidemic.

This page will be refreshed regularly, as new information becomes available. Please do keep checking here for latest updates.

COVID-19 Virtual Volunteer Managers’ Network

Now more than ever, it is important that we work together to help each other find solutions, share ideas and resources. You can join our a Volunteer Managers’ Network and find out more here.

To receive further instructions on how to join the call, please sign up here.

Best Practice in managing volunteers

As this is a time of great urgency, your organisation may have needed to create new volunteering roles specifically to cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. Your capacity may need to be larger, or you may have to work in a completely new way. With all that in mind, best practice in managing your volunteers should still apply, and be adjusted and adapted as conditions change. We are here to help you with this.

If you are creating new volunteer role descriptions and would like some guidance, please do send these to our Volunteer Management team and they will be happy to take a look and advise accordingly. You can contact Katy, our Volunteer Manager, and her team at: volunteering@communitysouthwark.org

General best practice guidance and resources for managing volunteers can be found here. We have also put together this: Top Tips on Volunteer Best Practice During Covid19 document.

Volunteer payment options to support vulnerable people during the Covid-19 outbreak

We know that issues will arise during this period when volunteers may be asked to shop to source food and other essential items for a vulnerable person. Here is some guidance on how to manage those payments.

Mental Health and Well-being

As volunteer managers, we are at the forefront of helping to provide essential services to communities, families and individuals at this time. We are being challenged from all sides during this crisis and our resilience is being tested.

It is therefore vital that we remember to look after our own mental health and well-being. The following websites provide guidance and resources for coping during this pandemic:

DBS checks

Many of you work with vulnerable adults and children. With the Government’s advice to  stay at home and maintain social distancing, helping these vulnerable people has become a bigger challenge.

Volunteers are classed as ‘key-workers’. As long as they abide by the Government’s recommendations, (including social distancing and hand washing), they can continue to carry out important roles such as delivering food, medicines, driving people to appointments, telephone befriending etc.

Standard vetting procedures for new volunteers must continue to be applied. The following sites provide further guidance on how to carry out DBS checks:

  • Government advice – will help you to work out if what you are doing requires that your volunteers are checked.
  • Community Southwark resource: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (being updated) – What is a DBS check and what does it mean to your organisation?


Safeguarding is paramount during this time – the safety of vulnerable people and your volunteers who are supporting them must be your top priority as volunteer managers. This is a very complex and new situation, and we have lots of different resources that can help and guide you.

See our COVID-19 Safeguarding and Risk Assessment resources here.

During this COVID-19 crisis, you should keep using your safeguarding policy that you have in place already. If you do not have a safeguarding policy, please contact us at Community Southwark for advice and guidance on how to put one in place: vcssupport@communitysouthwark.org 

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) also offers this guidance on supporting vulnerable clients.

Public liability insurance

What is it? – this is an insurance policy that covers your employees and volunteers who come into contact with third parties, including members of the public. All organisations that run external operations should have public liability cover in place, in case an adverse incident occurs and any claims for compensation are made.

We strongly suggest that, if you don’t already have public liability insurance in place,  you buy a policy now. Failure to do so could cost your organisation a lot of money and reputational damage, if damage or injury arising from an adverse incident were to happen.

NCVO provides some helpful guidance on this here.

Data protection & sharing data: what you need to know

Do I need to comply with data protection rules during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

  • Yes. To protect the privacy of your staff, volunteers and organisations you work with, you must continue to comply with all data protection rules including the GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act 2018.
  • You should also consult the ICO’s security tips to help you manage the COVID-19 crisis.

Can I share information with other organisations? If I can, do I need to collect an individual’s consent?

  • Sharing: Generally, you can share personal data with other organisations provided that you inform individuals that you will share personal data with organisations other than yours – you should do so before sharing any information. You could inform them via your online privacy notice, and you should ideally name the organisations or categories of organisations, (e.g. NHS departments, local councils, non-profit organisations), you will share the information with.
  • Consent: Consent is one possible option but you don’t necessarily need consent to collect personal data and share it with other organisations. For example, vulnerable people may not always be able to give consent, or it may be challenging for you to collect consent from whoever holds parental responsibility for a child. In such circumstances, and where it is essential to protect the life of an individual or their physical integrity, you may share their data with other organisations because it is in the individual’s vital interest to do so. For more information, see the ICO’s guidance on consent and their note for community groups.

Do I need to inform people about the personal data I hold about them?

  • Yes. Information and transparency are key so you should always inform individuals that you are processing personal data about them, tell them how you use it, for what purposes and tell them the rights they have over their personal data.
  • Use your own privacy policy as a guide. If you don’t have one, the ICO has published a template privacy notice that you can use as a starting point.
  • When the emergency is over, make sure you and your volunteers securely delete or destroy any personal data that you no longer need.

Who can help with data protection?

The ICO recognises the unprecedented challenges we are all facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need more help, contact the ICO or seek professional advice if you have a specific query.

ICO resources

General advice:

Here’s some more general Covid-19 advice that Community Southwark has pulled together.

Useful organisations & links: