We know that many of our own volunteers and others in the community are keen to support older people with collecting food and prescriptions etc at this time. 

Here are our tips about how to support others as safely as possible.

  • Only do it if you’re feeling well, and always follow the government guidance on regular hand washing, when to self-isolate and staying at home.
  • Think carefully before sharing information such as your personal contact details, or details of people in your community who may need help, on social media.
  • Don’t share personal information, such as contact numbers or addresses of people who need help, with all potential volunteers you are in contact with – make sure you have a secure system in place for sharing information with only those who need it. Only collect the personal information that you really need from the person who needs help.
  • Agree in advance what you will do for people, and how any money will be spent and repaid.
  • If you're running errands for people, stay outside of their homes and at least two metres (about three steps) away from people.
  • Let family and friends know what you’re doing.
  • See if there is a local Covid-19 group in your area who may also be able to offer support 
  • If you’re trying to help someone who needs a lot of support or care, don’t be afraid to talk to them about appropriate statutory services – it might be that they need some social care support from their local council, for example (also see below our information about protecting people from abuse).
  • Don’t take on too much – it's often better not to offer at all than to let someone down.

Tips for helping someone with their shopping if they are self-isolating

  • Check on your neighbours by putting a note through their door with your contact details on, so they can get in touch with you if they need help. You could also find out if there are any local groups offering help.
  • Before you do any shopping for someone, agree roughly how much you will spend and how they will pay - whether by cash, bank transfer or Paypal. Do not ask them for their bank card or bank details. Our FAQs page has advice to help people who are self-isolating and need access to cash.
  • Follow the latest government guidance on social distancing - when you deliver their shopping, keep a safe distance (3 steps away) or leave the items outside or on the doorstep.
  • Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds before and after collecting the items for them.
  • Make sure you get receipts for everything to avoid any misunderstandings.

See our shopping page for other ways to help someone to get shopping delivered to their home.

What if I'm worried that someone has been targeted by a scam?

Scammers are clever and ruthless, and may use the current situation as an opportunity to target people who live alone and may be feeling lonely or need some help – by offering to do shopping, or claiming to be able to test people for coronavirus, for example. If you are concerned that someone you know might have been targeted, you should:

  • try to speak to them about it. It’s not uncommon for people to feel ashamed or embarrassed if they have fallen victim to a scam, so reassure them that this isn’t their fault and that scammers use devious tactics anyone could be taken in by
  • help them to report it to the police (101) and/or Action Fraud (0300 123 2040) if they have been targeted by scammers and want to report it (even if the attempted scam wasn’t successful)
  • tell them about Victim Support (0808 168 9111), a charity providing practical and emotional support to people affected by crime, should they want someone to talk to about it.

You can find further information on our page about different types of scams.

What if I'm worried that someone is being neglected or is at risk of abuse?

If you are worried that someone is neglecting themselves (for example, they are not washing and dressing themselves properly, or not eating enough), or that they are at risk of abuse, you should:

  • explain to the person that you're worried and think adult social care would be able to help. Ask them if they feel comfortable calling adult social services at their local council to make a safeguarding referral to get support 
  • if they don’t feel able to do this, ask if they would like you to do this on their behalf
  • you may need to call 999 if the person is in immediate danger.

See our page protecting someone from abuse for more information. We also have information to support people who are experiencing or at risk of domestic violence.

Next steps

See our coronavirus resources for volunteers  

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