Here are some things you need to consider when you are volunteering with your local friends group.

Keep your distance from people outside your household

  • Numbers volunteering on a site or area may have to be restricted, at any given time to enable social distancing.
  • People may approach the group – be ready to politely remind them to maintain at least 2m distance.
  • It is advisable to volunteer at quieter times e.g. early mornings, to enable you to maintain a safe distance from others.
  • Stop volunteer activities if the park becomes busy – follow the Government guidelines, if you can’t use the park with-out adhering to social distancing, come back at another time.

Reduce the number of people you spend time within a work/volunteering setting

  • Volunteer alone or in groups of no more than 6 people (who can be from different households) following social distancing guidelines
  • Work in smaller contained teams, (ensuring numbers are sufficient to ensure tasks can still be carried out safely.)

Avoid crowds

  • Ideally, do not volunteer for a site where you need to take public transport, stay
    local if possible, walking or cycling to the site if you can. If you have to use public transport, think about how and when you travel and try to avoid peak times.
  • Please do not promote the time and place you intend to undertake any activities to avoid the risk of large social gatherings.

Avoid being face-to-face with people if they are outside your household

  • Work side by side to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Keep your hands and face as clean as possible
  • You should have hand sanitiser with you and wash your hands frequently.
  • There should be one set of gardening gloves per person (wash after use).
  • Avoid touching your face while working, even if you are wearing gloves.


  • Tools to be used by each volunteer should be identified at the start of the session and should not be shared during a session.
  • After the session, leave all communal tools for 72hours if possible. Disinfect thoroughly if not (with a suitable solution) after you finish, especially main contact areas, such as handles.
  • Remember that gates, locks, benches etc. are used by everyone, use hand sanitiser after touching surfaces.
  • Wash your hands when you get home.

Wash your clothes regularly

  • There is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics for a few days, although usually, it is shorter.
  • Therefore, if you are working with people outside your household, wash your clothes regularly.
  • If a high-viz vest is required, this should be washed before being used again.

Face coverings

  • Volunteers who wish to wear masks should provide their own and use as the packaging/guidance advises.
  • If a volunteer chooses to wear a face mask, this should not be in place of following social distancing.

Under existing guidance for Friends groups in assessing and managing risk associated with work carried out by volunteers, overall responsibility for volunteer health and safety remains with Torbay Council. However, this responsibility is shared in part with the Friends groups. Every volunteer also has a degree of responsibility for their own health and safety as well as those who their actions may affect.

Whether you choose to volunteer will depend on the type of activities you would like to do, and the risks associated with that for you as an individual. We recommend that you check guidance on how to manage the risk of coronavirus before you volunteer. You should also contact the Friends group for details on what they are doing to help people volunteer safely. If you are providing voluntary services, you must follow the Government’s stay alert and safe (social distancing) guidance. If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.

You can volunteer if:

  • you’re well
  • nobody in your household has coronavirus symptoms, for example a cough or high temperature
  • you’re under 70
  • you’re not pregnant
  • you do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus

If you or someone in your household starts to show symptoms, or if you are at high risk of severe symptoms yourself, then you must stay at home.

This is our guidance to support those who are able and wish to run sessions. It does not imply any expectation for you to do so. Please put your own safety first

Each Friends group must undertake a risk assessment to inform any volunteer work carried out during the outbreak of Covid-19, going by current government guidelines.

Plan to undertake only certain activities that that are suitable under the current conditions and may be deemed as necessary.

When planning and carrying out activities you should continue to follow existing health and safety guidance for the specific activity and location, using safety measures appropriate to the risk.

Remind volunteers not to attend sessions if they are unwell and especially if they have a persistent cough or temperature or loss of smell/ taste.

On the day

The session leader is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of any procedures to ensure that safe systems of volunteering and safe places of volunteering are always operated. They should not be as involved in the task as usual, as the first priority is ensuring safety. (Consider having a hi-viz vest for the designated leader to encourage members of the public with questions to only approach you.)

Ensure that volunteers are fully briefed and understand the protocols for volunteering and current government guidance; this may mean a telephone briefing session or written instruction beforehand.

When completing the attendance sheet for the session, sign people in yourself to avoid sharing pens Ask volunteers to let you know when they are leaving so you can sign them out yourself.

Remind volunteers of social distancing and measures in place to protect each other, as well as the session plan. Point out to the group if any volunteers are from the same household and therefore able to work together.

If the site is large and not busy, more than one group can be organised to run at the same time, but they must be entirely independent of each other.

Recommended PPE & equipment list

  • Fully charged mobile phone in case of emergencies.
  • One st of gardening gloves per person (wash after use)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • If possible, take a flask of hot water, soap and paper towels (and receptacle for disposal)
  • Anti-bac wipes may be useful

The onus is on park users to self-police whilst on site and to take responsibility for their own hygiene and actions when visiting parks and green spaces.

Please be aware that park users need to consider for themselves if they want to go outside and take up an activity.

Volunteers cannot police gatherings in parks or dictate what equipment people should use once on site.

Remind volunteers not to attend sessions if they are unwell and especially if they have a persistent cough or temperature or loss of smell/ taste.

If you’re worried about someone’s health contact the NHS: Online:

  • NHS 111 online Coronavirus service (for help and advice)
  • Phone: 111 (if symptoms get worse)
  • Phone: 999 (if someone’s life is at risk)

If you are worried about someone’s mental health, let them know they can get help and support from Every Mind Matters.

First aiders should be aware of the information from the Resuscitation Council (UK) on CPR