Although most Covid-19 restrictions have now been lifted, we know that some people will still need support while they self-isolate or shield. If you or someone in your community needs support, we advise that you contact NHS Responders to see if they can help. You can arrange support for yourself or someone you know by calling their helpline on 0808 196 3646 from 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.

If you choose to support others in your community with activities such as collecting food or prescriptions, here are some tips to help keep yourself and others safe.

  • Only do it if you’re feeling well and are not required to self isolate, and always follow the government guidance on regular hand washing and when to self-isolate, for example.
  • 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. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions such as wearing a face covering.
  • Let family and friends know what you’re doing.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • When you deliver their shopping, keep a safe distance (3 steps away) or leave the items outside or on the doorstep. Despite restrictions being lifted, the government still recommends that we take measures to keep ourselves and others safe.
  • 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.

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 or offer vaccinations, 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. 

Next steps

See our volunteering pages for covid-related advice and information for our existing volunteers.