Virtual Volunteering

This refers to volunteering using the internet, phones at home or their own place of work.

If you are moving your service to virtual or telephone volunteering here are some hopefully helpful tips

Equipment and Accessibility

  • Check volunteers have access to suitable equipment
  • If you can, lend these to volunteers (laptops, tablets, phones)
  • Ensure any equipment that you lend has been cleaned appropriately
  • When choosing a platform for volunteers to work with the public, make sure they are set up to comply with your GDPR and data protection policies.

Safety and Safeguarding

Confidentiality

To avoid any potential breaches of confidentially or GDPR

  • Make sure your volunteers are aware of your confidentiality policy and data protection policy
  • Phone calls and online chats should only happen in a confidential space – in a separate room to other people in their home
  • Use an online platform where possible. This may include Microsoft 365, Google Docs or similar. This way any work will be automatically saved to a cloud programme and not on the volunteer’s computer.
    • It will reduce the chances of volunteers saving confidential or personal information onto their own computer.
    • It also makes it easier for you and the volunteers to share work and edit work without trying to keep up with which version is the current version
    • If a volunteer does have confidential information on their computer, they should delete when complete and delete again from their ‘recycle bin’. Heads up , if they downloaded information, they will also need to delete form the download folder (Office programme)
    • Encourage good practice of volunteers locking their computers or signing out of works programmes when not in use.
    • Use meeting passwords where available.
    • Don’t save passwords when signing in first time

Phones – Where possible, volunteers should block their number.

Boundaries

  • Be clear with volunteers about their role.
  • Volunteers do not have to be available 24/7. Volunteers need to be clear when they are available and when they are not.
  • This needs to be communicated with clients.
  • Clients may contact volunteers outside of these times. There may be an emergency – do volunteers know your procedures for this?
  • Volunteers need to be clear with clients about their remit. If people are requesting additional support, such as help with shopping, prescriptions etc. make sure volunteers are aware of other services including local Mutual Aid groups.

Safeguarding

  • Ensure volunteers are aware of your safeguarding protocols
  • Volunteers to take regular breaks
  • Check that is safe for volunteers work from home
  • You may want to review some of your policies to take account of the current situation
    • Safeguarding
    • Confidentiality
    • Lone working
    • Working at home
    • Remote working

Training

Update and refresh volunteer skills to account for telephone and online work.

Using phone, text of online platforms we lose a lot of information that informs our converstaion – tone, eye contact, body language. New skills may be required to adpat to these types of conversations

  • Active listening skills
  • Managing difficult and challening conversations
  • Opening and closing a call
  • If volunteering online, it is useful to sense check with the person you are conversing.

Expenses

If volunteers are using their own equipment, phones or internet, can you cover any additional costs – electricity/phone charges.

For more information go to our volunteering from home page

Support

  • Make sure volunteers know how they can to contact you
  • Ensure they are aware of what times you are available
  • Allowance for emergency contact
  • Group support through online programmes (ZOOM/ Whatspp groups etc)

New opportunities for you

  • Online recruitment and induction
  • DBS is still important for certain roles, but DBS have made some concessions including the use of older DBS checks and use of email or scanned document checks. Check with Safety Net
  • This is an opportunity to reach new volunteers – people who do not want to do face to face but happy to do online support
  • Appeal to people who usually housebound