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Coronavirus – Volunteering

The Covid-19 crisis has left many people isolated and vulnerable. The elderly, the infirm and the unemployed are just a few of the groups experiencing considerable difficulties at the present time.

Thankfully there are many kind-hearted souls out there who are willing to give of their time to help those in need. A great number of people have engaged in voluntary work in recent weeks and some have created ‘pop-up’ community resilience groups, adding to the work already done by established groups such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

However, in providing this valuable support, volunteers must remain cognizant of Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

Ready Scotland is the official Scottish Government resource providing information on how to safely and responsibly volunteer to help others during the Coronavirus crisis.

The information, below, is taken directly from Ready Scotland and should prove to be a useful resource for anyone wanting to volunteer at this time and for those who would like to set up a community resilience group.

Only help if you are well

Follow advice on nhsinform.scot/coronavirus to ensure it is safe for you to help.  

People who may be in need of help

You can help:

Neighbours, friends or family who have to stay at home because someone in the household has coronavirus/symptoms. 

Neighbours, friends or family who are 70 and over, or have and health conditions (that means you are offered the flu jab on grounds of health each year)

Providing practical help

There are simple ways you can help your neighbours without exposing yourself or them, if they cannot leave the house: 

You could do some food shopping for them when you are doing your own.

You could place an online shopping order for them or talk them through the process over the phone.

You could pick up their prescriptions or arrange a pharmacy delivery where available.

You could support with general errands such as posting letters or putting the bins out.

If you are helping with prescriptions, you should remind people that they must only order the medication they need in their usual quantities; nobody should be stockpiling.

How to do this safely

Try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for others only when you do your regular shop.

You should not physically visit people who are self-isolating as this would put you at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others. This means you shouldn’t enter their house or go on a car journey with them.

Keep a distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you are helping – if you have to see them on the doorstep

Leave any shopping or other messages on the doorstep, but make sure that they have been collected before leaving.

Remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

Do not place yourself in compromising positions where you may feel unsafe, for instance helping late at night.

Be aware that if you are helping someone you don’t know personally, they may not want to share personal details with you like phone numbers.

You should also warn those you are helping not to let strangers into their home – and not to give strangers money under any circumstances.

Providing emotional support

Self-isolation can be a really lonely time. However, Government advice is available to protect the most vulnerable in our society.  We can help each other by staying in touch – whether neighbours or friends and family who live further away. You can do all of these from your own home:

You personally can help with regular calls, text messages and contact via social media.

You can also help by talking people through the setup for video calls so they can connect with their friends and family remotely.

You can encourage people to stay mentally and physically active with activities such as cooking, reading, gardening, online learning or watching films.

Swap suggestions about how to keep busy. If people are well enough; encourage them to do some light exercise and keep active around the home, perhaps by using an online exercise class.  

Share trusted sources of information. It’s easy to become worried by online information, some of which may be deliberately designed to mislead people. Help your community by sharing trusted information from websites like 

NHS Inform

Scottish Government


Our list of services providing additional support


What should I do if I’m worried about someone’s health?

If the health of anyone you are in touch with or supporting is a cause for concern, encourage them to call their GP practice or NHS24 on 111 if the GP is closed.

Similarly, if they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, their condition gets worse or their symptoms do not get better after 7 days, please call NHS24 on 111.


Call 999 immediately if you believe someone’s life is at risk.

You can also click to find out more about where you or they can find additional support


What should I do if I have to stay at home and need help?

Please refer to guidance on staying at home here.

If someone you don’t know calls at your home, always ask for valid ID and always ensure you are comfortable sharing details like your phone number or address. Only provide information on a need-to-know basis and if you have seen valid ID.  Do not share financial details like credit/debit card numbers.

Do not feel pressured into providing information. If you have doubts about those who are approaching you, and are concerned, it is advised that you don’t engage, and report serious suspicious behaviour to police.

Remember that genuine volunteers have been instructed not to enter your home and should all have documentation proving their status.


Community Resilience Groups

There are a large number of local community groups that have already started to rally local support. Look out for these on Facebook and in local community channels, and join in.

If you would like to set up a new community resilience group, we have guidance available.  These groups provide great help not only during the current challenges, but also in future during bad weather or other disruption.