On this page you will find advice on how to help during the Covid-19 pandemic. The most impactful thing anyone can do is follow guidance on how to be a good neighbour which you can find on this page. Below you will also find an FAQ giving additional information.
Please note that opportunities to volunteer for voluntary organisations and public services are very limited at this time. More volunteers will be required over the coming weeks and as these opportunities become available they will be added here.
Meantime thank you and please Think Local, Act Local.
The Government's advice is that you should not leave your home except for a few very specific reasons, which includes providing support to someone vulnerable or self-isolating.
You should only provide essential support to someone who is unable to leave their home if you and everyone in your home is healthy and does not have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough (the symptoms of coronavirus).
If you are over 70, pregnant or have any underlying health conditions you should not leave your home.
If you are already a volunteer and you are healthy and not in an at risk group then you should contact the organisation you normally volunteer with to find out whether you should attend your regular place of volunteering. If you are still required it is likely that your volunteer role will change, for example you may be asked to contact service users by phone rather than face-to-face, or if possible you may be asked to work remotely. It is also likely that organisations will require volunteers to do new and different roles, please consider what roles are available and whether you would be able to help out.
If you are not currently volunteering but would like to help out then thank you, that is fantastic. Our advice is very simple: Think and act locally! Basic neighbourliness is absolutely vital in a crisis, whether it is extreme weather or coronavirus. There are many ways in which you can make a real impact right where you live: Check on neighbours, especially anyone who may live alone (regardless of their age), anyone elderly or anyone that may be potentially vulnerable. If someone is self-isolating or unable to get out for whatever reason – can you help by doing practical yet vital tasks such as:
- Collecting a prescription or over the counter medications that may be needed.
- Doing some basic grocery shopping. *
- If you are making a meal offer to make a portion for someone who may not be feeling able to cook for themselves.
- Take their bins out on bin day.
- Offering to exercise their dog if they have one and are not able to do this themselves.
It is often the little acts of kindness that have the most impact. * If you are helping with shopping, we advise only exchanging money with people you know. If you are refunding someone ensure you have a receipt.
This is your chance to connect with them! Pop a note through their letterbox, exchange contact details and keep in touch. Just as you may be able to support them, they can support you if you have to self-isolate at any time. If there isn’t anyone in your immediate area that requires help, check noticeboards in your local area for anyone looking for help, or look on online forums such as Nextdoor, Helpfulpeeps or the Gumtree community pages. We have listed some Edinburgh specific pages and groups further down this document.
It is not just elderly people who can feel lonely and isolated. Check on all neighbours who may need help, or who are having to self-isolate. There will be neighbours around you who are living on their own and may not have a network of friends to call on. If you are having to self-isolate and have no one to help you, it doesn’t matter what age you are.
Please follow the latest Scottish Government and NHS Scotland health advice at all times. We would ask that you make sensible decisions and minimise the risk to your own and others health at all times.
If you are unable to help at this time, remember that your help may be needed in the weeks to come.
In the sidebar (below on mobile) you will find a 'Being a Good Neighbour Safely' document available for download with further details on how to keep safe while helping others.
We understand that many people would like to do much more to help. While this situation develops it is important to be patient. New opportunities to volunteer will emerge over the coming weeks and months. It is important that when they do that there are still people who want to and are able to volunteer. We will be updating this page continually and highlighting where there is a need for help. It is also important to remember that to minimize exposure and spread people should limit travel, therefore helping in your immediate building, street or neighbourhood is the most impactful thing that you can do right now.
If there is already a community or voluntary organisation (including churches and housing associations) organising in your neighbourhood, please make contact with them and offer to work with them rather than setting up something new. Established organisations will already have in place safeguarding and data protection policies, and will have appropriate insurance. Check out our list of organisations who need volunteers. This will be constantly added to.
It is likely that this situation will be ongoing for several months and more people will be needed to help over the coming months. Thank you for wanting to volunteer, your help will be needed but it may be in some weeks that more volunteers are needed.
Please share this information far and wide with anyone who may be thinking about volunteering or helping out during the current situation.
In the first instance ask, “What can I do to help?” There may be a need which you can help with directly for example phoning a utility company on someone’s behalf, contacting a local foodbank, or doing a delivery for them.
If you have concerns for someone’s welfare please refer to the information below:
In an emergency
If the crisis is life threatening, call 999.
If you are worried about someone who is ill, call NHS 24 on 111.
Urgent social care or someone at risk of harm
If someone needs urgent social care or you think an adult or child needs protection call Social Care Direct on 0131 200 2324.
In the evening and at weekends or public holidays, you can call Emergency Social Work, free of charge from a landline. Your mobile phone provider may charge for 0800 calls. 0800 731 6969.
Monday to Thursday 5pm to 8.30am, weekends from Friday 3.55pm to Monday 8.30am.
If you are unable to help an individual directly, there are other things you could do to help out in the local community, for example:
- Litter picking while you take your daily recommended exercise - take a bin bag and some gloves on a walk and pick up litter while you go.
- Encourage others to stay active with online exercise classes which can be done form home.
- Revive the lost art of letter writing – send a message to someone who lives a bit further away, and even include a nice photo.
- Microvolunteering – have a look at this list of informal volunteering opportunities (N.B some of these may be currently unavailable.)
- Take an online course and learn something new – please see the list in the sidebar (below on mobile) for some ideas.
Do you need volunteers?
I know many volunteer involving organisations across the city have been adjusting and adapting to the current crisis. Your available volunteer numbers may well be down as a result of self-isolation or it may be that there are more or different opportunities that you need volunteer support with. We are being approached by many people who want to volunteer. If you need volunteers please use our existing online advertising routes here.
If you have not used this before and need support to do so contact us on 0131 225 0630 or email email@example.com.
If your opportunity is COVID-19 related please use COVID-19 in either the title or the role description as this will mean your opportunity is automatically added to our COVID-19 volunteering opportunities listing.
Appeal to volunteer managers
If you are an experienced volunteer manager but you are not currently engaging or managing volunteers, for whatever reason, we are looking for your help. If you think you can support some of the work that we will be doing over the coming weeks please let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. We are currently working hard to coordinate a wide volunteer response to support vital services over the coming weeks. We are likely to need some help from volunteering professionals. So if you think you can help please let us know.
Engaging new volunteers at this time
Anyone engaging new volunteers during this crisis knows that normal best practice processes that we use may be difficult to maintain. It is important to consider how you can adapt your practices and be pragmatic while safely engaging volunteers. It may not be possible to get references for example. Social distancing requirements may make orientation challenging. Here are a few ideas which you might find useful:
Can you put your applications on line? Perhaps consider using Google Docs?
Can interviews and indeed orientation/induction be done via Skype/Zoom/WhatsApp?
References are likely to be impracticable at the moment. Can you ask for people to verify their identity more than you usually do? Remember many larger employers will undertake a variety of checks on employees, so if someone can prove they work for a particular company consider whether that can provide you with additional confidence.
Can you record your orientation/induction on a phone so that you can use it repeatedly? This is not the time to be worrying about production values!
You can find out further information about regulated work and PVGs here.
If you have a genius idea on adapting your volunteer recruitment please share it with us and we will let people know.
Check out out Volunteer Wiki page here for more guidance:
Support from EVOC
Our Third Sector Interface partner EVOC would like to know what support organisations might need from them at this time. Please take a moment to complete their survey.
EVOC are also soon to launch a downloadable resource which will detail some of the emerging third sector and community groups work across the city. Remember that EVOC can signpost your organisation to networks or to similar organisations who are looking to collaborate around themes. For this contact email@example.com.
If organisations are looking to source free training on anything that this is useful at the moment, can they email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Please get in touch if you have any other ideas by emailing email@example.com, we will be updating this page regularly and are happy to share any suggestions.