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Update regarding Covid and Volunteering

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have issued an update regarding covid and volunteering.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations have provided a summary of the latest changes to government guidance and information which have an impact on volunteering.

Step 2 in the Roadmap (12th April)

Coronavirus restrictions changed on 12th April at Step 2 in the Roadmap. Exemptions from restrictions remain the same for volunteering, which means:

  • People can meet in groups of any size, indoors or outdoors, while volunteering, and can meet in groups for activities necessary for their volunteering roles, for example recruitment and training activities.
  • Volunteering which cannot be done from home can continue in a closed business or venue while it remains closed to the public.
  • Businesses, venues, community centres and libraries which are otherwise required to close or restrict their activities are permitted to open and be used, including by volunteers, for a number of specific purposes only set out on GOV.UK. These are also set out in legislation.
  • Accommodation, such as hotels and B&Bs, which is otherwise ordered to close, is permitted to open for people who need to stay for volunteering purposes.

As ever, people should follow social distancing guidance while volunteering outside the home, or COVID-secure guidance if in a workplace. While travelling to volunteer or while volunteering, people should follow the safer travel guidance on GOV.UK.

GOV.UK guidance setting out how volunteering can be done safely during coronavirus is up to date with the current restrictions. This includes guidance for volunteers and for organisations/groups which involve volunteers in their work.

Twice-weekly testing offer

Everyone in England without symptoms can now take a free rapid coronavirus test twice a week. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms is delivered through:

·  a home ordering service (which can be accessed on GOV.UK)

·  workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home

·  community testing, offered by all local authorities

·  collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows

·  testing on-site at schools and colleges

·  a new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service where people will be able to collect a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home.

Government advice is that people who need to leave the home to work or volunteer should be tested twice a week.

Workplace testing

The deadline for organisations registering to order free rapid lateral flow tests to carry out testing of their employees/volunteers was 12 April.

Organisations which have already registered can still order free rapid lateral flow tests until 30 June; they can order the tests to use in the workplace or for their employees/volunteers to collect and take home.

Organisations which did not register before the 12 April deadline cannot order free tests, however they can ask their employees/volunteers to check if they can get a rapid lateral flow test to do at home or at a test site or they can choose to pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for them.

Fundraising

Following the changes to restrictions on 12th April, door-to-door, street and private site fundraising are now permitted to take place. The Fundraising Regulator and Chartered Institute of Fundraising have published new guidance on fundraising during the pandemic.

Organised events guidance for local authorities

The Government has published organised events guidance for local authorities. This guidance is aimed at local authorities in England and is designed to assist them in ensuring that organised events are able to go ahead safely and in accordance with what is permitted at each step of the Roadmap.

To note: this guidance relates to restricted organised events, and sets out which of these events are permitted to take place at each step of the Roadmap (for example, volunteer social events). Group gatherings which are necessary for the purposes of delivering voluntary services will remain exempt from coronavirus restrictions throughout the steps of the Roadmap. This means people can meet in groups of any size, indoors or outdoors, while volunteering, and while undertaking activities necessary for their volunteering roles, for example recruitment and training activities. Organisations should ensure they follow working safely guidance while involving volunteers in their work.

Updated guidance: civil society sectors and the EU

The government has published updates to its civil society sectors and the EU guidance. This includes a link through to guidance on how people can apply for the EU settlement scheme and a link through to guidance on the Temporary Worker – Charity Worker visa (T5) which has replaced the Tier 5 visa.

ICO and ACAS guidance on testing

ACAS have published guidance on workplace testing, and the ICO have published a set of FAQs regarding data protection and testing.

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