Safety tips for volunteers

Government advice (23 April) on staying safe as a Volunteer and when being helped by a Volunteer

Wash Hands

Although this seems so boring this is one of the main ways to stay safe. Supposedly 20 seconds of washing with soap and water kills the virus on your hands. Gloves are not an alternative as although they protect your hands they do not stop the gloves spreading the virus (see gloves video).

Hand sanitiser

If it is not possible to wash your hands then hand sanitiser can be used. Volunteers can get a tube from their area co-ordinator.

Physical distance

In line with Government guidelines volunteers should keep 2 metres away from other people – isolators, inside the shop especially at tills.


Recognising that gloves are a key way to protect volunteers then a quantity are being purchased and will be freely available. These should be worn to protect volunteer and isolator from cross contamination from items the volunteer touches while shopping etc. Items will include

  1. Basket handle
  2. Trolley handle
  3. Items on shelves
  4. Cash

Most shops provide sanitising material to wipe basket / trolleys. Gloves can be used to take items from shelves. Cash should be avoided wherever possible (but see below).


The best on-line advice we’ve seen is here

We don’t have totally safe system yet so are trying to get payment by card, online or on account. However elderly isolators sometimes only trust cash. It is unclear how long the virus can live on coins or notes – 12 hours and 72 hours have been mentioned in the press. The virus could be present in the isolator’s home or in the shop and we are looking to prevent cross contamination between isolator, volunteer and shop. In this case the best we have found is

  1. Volunteer wears gloves
  2. Isolator asks retailer for cost of goods and puts exact change in plastic bank bag (we have a supply of these – contact Russ/Peter)
  3. Volunteer gives bank bag to shop till and gets receipt for shopping
  4. If isolator puts in too much money (eg didn’t have exact change, all things on list not available) then person at till puts change back into plastic bank bag. Volunteer puts bank bag in with shopping

A supply of  plastic banks bags is available at 8 The Corner, 24 Main St, 29 Main St

Payment by phone

We have had instances where the person at the shop till has asked the volunteer to call the isolator for payment on the volunteer phone. The till person then uses the phone for payment details. We feel this is too risky and so either:

  1. Person at till uses shop phone or their personal phone to call the isolator or
  2. Suitable ‘barrier’ eg clean thin plastic used at butcher’s counter to catch sliced ham is put around volunteer phone.

Alternate payment methods

Some banks and stores offer alternative payment mechanisms.

The Co-op has a gift card scheme so if isolator purchases the card then they can give it to a volunteer to spend up to the amount on the card.

Lowdham Volunteers has it’s own Co-op Gift card for use in emergencies.

Other supermarkets may have similar schemes

Starling Bank offers a volunteer card where only set amounts are available to volunteers.