COVID-19 Volunteering - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Thank you for registering to volunteer in support of helping the residents of Wigan Borough, you are making a valuable contribution to keeping our elderly and at-risk population safer and reassured during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why do we need volunteers?

As a borough we are identifying additional capacity to mobilise volunteer resources and aid the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this includes supporting residents in our communities where people need it most.

What about the community groups and organisations already across the borough?

Our already established community groups and organisations across the borough have started to coordinate a sustainable volunteer offer in communities and are already doing some fantastic work. Additional volunteer capacity will continue to be needed to support our communities over the coming months as we face new challenges.

Can I volunteer in my local community if I have already signed up to other schemes, such as the NHS Responder Volunteer Scheme?

Yes - we know there will be Wigan residents that have already signed up to other volunteering schemes and we see no reason why people cannot do both. It will be the responsibility of the individual to manage how this works in practice.

What is your role as a #BeKind Community volunteers?

Be Kind community volunteers will work with people in need of assistance who may have self-identified as needed some help and assistance by ringing the Council’s dedicated helpline or filling in the webform. Alternatively, they may have been identified by the Council, as part of the government’s “shielded list” (people who have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks due to vulnerability) or by a partner agency as someone who may require assistance during this time.

The role will vary depending on your skills and experience but may include:

  • Supporting a food bank - packing food parcels, delivering to homes
  • Supporting a local community centre / group
  • Shopping for the client or picking up essential items that they have run out of, including if they cannot have deliveries or do a main shop, or if they cannot get supermarket deliveries
  • Talking to them on the phone - especially if they are alone, chatting to them and answering any questions about the current situation. Reassuring them and comforting them
  • Taking their dog for a walk.

I have applied to be a Be Kind volunteer, what happens next?

Once the web form referral has been received someone from the Council will make contact to give you a brief introduction. After this call your details will be held on a boroughwide database and will be used when we want to contact you.

In most cases you will be linked into a local community volunteer organisation (your Volunteer Hub) or the Wigan Borough Community Partnership. Their role will be to introduce the volunteers to the work required and help with any practical arrangements. Once you have been onboarded with a Volunteer Hub you may start to receive tasks from members of the community team as and when needed. They will call the number that you have given, explain the task and ask you to contact the person needing assistance.

I signed up to the scheme, but I haven’t been contacted

We would like to thank members of the public for their enthusiasm and commitment to supporting residents most in need. We have had an overwhelming response to our ask for volunteers, with more than 700 people now registered.

This has ensured we can run our community hubs and deliver vital support and services. We know how key your support will be over the coming months so it’s important that people continue to register. But please note that due to the high number of registrations, it will take longer for us to allocate you to a service and connect you with a community group or organisation.

My personal circumstances have changed - how do I update you?

We understand that everyone’s personal situation changes, however you may not need to contact us. We will keep you on our database and as/when you are contacted you can let us know if you are no longer able to volunteer due to a change in circumstance. If you prefer to be removed from the scheme altogether please let us know by sending an email to BeKindVolunteer@wigan.gov.uk

How will I be protected when volunteering?

The support you will offer will mean you will be out in the community, supporting the most vulnerable, as we come together to support the needs of the day and help people to live well through the COVID-19 virus outbreak. We are committed to keeping you safe and will provide you with any Personal Protection Equipment if needed. We anticipate however that in most instances you will be undertaking low risk / low contact activities and therefore it will not be required. We expect that all volunteers should always adhere to guidance on hand hygiene (hand washing or hand sanitiser) and applying social distancing approaches.

Can I volunteer with a family member (a child or partner)?

If you are volunteering, it is strongly advised that you complete this as an individual. There may be exceptions e.g. if some of the related activity is involved around ‘driving’ and your partner may be needed to transport you. Under no circumstances are volunteers allowed to bring a child under the age of 16 years old when volunteering.

Can I use my car when volunteering?

All individuals that are willing to drive their own vehicles for their Volunteer Hub must have the following arrangements in place:

  • A roadworthy vehicle as outlined by UK law, that has a valid MOT certificate where appropriate and is taxed for use on the roads
  • A valid driving license, that is in date and appropriate for the vehicle you are using.

If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by COVID-19, you will need to ensure you contact your insurance company and add business use onto your policy. Many of you may already have business cover and with most insurers it comes at no extra cost (or maybe an admin charge) but you will need to ensure they have this cover in place as it will be a legal requirement.

Will I get a letter in case I get challenged when volunteering?

You may be given access to a letter signed by the Chief Executive of the Council in support of the work you will be doing as a community volunteer. Your Volunteer Hub will have been logged with the police so that they can vouch that you are acting as a “keyworker” if you are stopped on an errand. This will be determined depending on the nature of the support you are offering.

What other information or details do I need to know?

For now – that’s it. When you are ‘onboarded’ with a local community group they will provide you with further advice and guidance on how to carry out any duty’s or tasks you are supporting with. This will include specific information depending on the nature of support i.e. food delivery etc.

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