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Information for volunteers and potential volunteers during the Covid-19 pandemic


On this page you will find advice on how you can continue to help during the Covid-19 pandemic and as we progress from lockdown.

Needing Help?

Volunteer Edinburgh has a team of dedicated Community Taskforce Volunteers. These volunteers are fully trained, fully insured and able to help anyone who needs support with practical tasks, such as shopping/pet care/dog walking etc. If you need help or support or someone you know needs help please contact us on 0131 225 0630 or email us here.

Want to volunteer?

We have new opportunities to volunteer, both in response to the pandemic and general opportunities so your help is needed more than ever. Please check out the latest opportunities below.

Being a good neighbour continues to be important and there is useful information on how to do that on this page.

Volunteering Opportunities

Here we will feature some of the latest volunteering opportunities related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please hover or click on one of the boxes below for further details. For a full list of opportunities related to the pandemic please either hover or click on the grey ‘Search for More’ box, click on the orange ‘Covid-19 volunteer opportunities’ button in the sidebar (below on mobile), or search for ‘covid’ using the keyword search on our opportunity search page here.

Delivery Driver
This role exists to assist our food team to deliver emergency food packages and pre-cooked meals to vulnerable people in South West Edinburgh.
Distance Mentoring for Adults
Mentors spend one hour per week supporting an adult from an ethnic minority community in the areas of language development, employability, education or personal development. Mentor training will be...
Kindness Digital Volunteer
Help us and join Scotland’s fight against coronavirus. Volunteering as a Digital Kindness Supporter means you will be helping the most vulnerable people in Scotland to stay safe and well at home.
Response Befriending Opportunity
Human contact is vital. As we are all finding out, without it, life changes. Community Alcohol Related Damages Service is a befriending service run by Rowan Alba. Healthcare specialists, GP’s, hos...
Search Covid-19 Opportunities
More volunteers will be required over the coming weeks to and as these opportunities become available they will be added to our site. Please click on the button below for a full list of Covid-19 re...
Search All Opportunities
Search our site for all volunteering opportunities across the city. The choice is huge and you can search by location, the type of volunteering that you want to do, who you would like to help or ev...

Food and Prescription Deliveries Maps

We have compiled these handy Google Maps which mark out a number of the city’s charities, companies, social enterprises and co-operatives working hard to get essential deliveries out to people.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section you will find answers to some commonly asked questions related to volunteering during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please click on a title to view the answer.

Am I allowed to give help or volunteer?

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.

I am already a volunteer what should I do?

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.

I’m not currently a volunteer what can I do to help?

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, and it is often the little acts of kindness that have the most impact. 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), and anyone elderly or that may be potentially vulnerable.

If someone is self-isolating or unable to get out for whatever reason you may be able to 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.

* 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.

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak criminals are targeting the vulnerable and those who live alone, offering to help with shopping and then taking off with the money. Fraudsters are also going door to door offering ‘cures’ or testing kits at a cost.  

  • Don’t give people money or your bank details/cards if they knock on your door and offer to do shopping on your behalf if you don’t know them.
  • Don’t keep large amounts of cash in your home.
  • Never be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ and close the door.
  • Never be pressurised, if in doubt contact a friend or family member for advice.
What if I don’t know my neighbours?

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.

Another extremely valuable way to be a good neighbour is to send a Wishing You Well, Thinking Of You card to a nursing, care or residential home near you, elsewhere in the UK or even worldwide.

As you have probably seen in the news, residents in care homes cannot receive visitors and many are beginning to feel isolated and possibly forgotten. Also care staff are going way beyond the extra mile looking after the residents.

By sending a card you can let the residents know you are thinking of them and that you appreciate the dedication and hard work of the workers.

You might know of a home near you or you might have a connection with one elsewhere in Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK or abroad.

If you are not aware of a care home you can find names and addresses here. Enter a postcode in the search box and order them by 'Distance'.

Cheerful, colourful cards are probably better than letters. If you don’t have a card, cut out a picture or draw something. A sun, a rainbow, some flowers would be good! Or how about some paper flowers or origami?

Keep the message along the lines of Wishing You Well, Thinking Of You rather than providing personal details.

And please don’t phone or visit the care home as they have a lot on their plate at the moment!

The short film below shows just how much this contact is appreciated.

I don’t know anyone older?

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.

I want to help but I want to protect myself too

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.

Providing food and shopping services for those in self-isolation

Hand Washing

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol based hand rub where available if no access to soap and water.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover nose and mouth with disposable tissue or crook of elbow when sneezing/coughing.

Visit the Health Protection Scotland site for further details.

Taking orders, visiting food outlets and delivering food

Take requests over the phone if possible or ensure social distancing (2 metres or 6 feet) if taking requests or payment at person’s property. Ensure no personal contact at any point, maintaining social distancing at all times. Disinfect all items passed to and from recipient.

Ensure you wash your hands before and after; visiting food outlets and deliveries. Ensure you follow social distancing rules set out by food outlets (further guidance here) and disinfect trolley or basket. Use Card as payment option where possible and place foods stuffs into bags that have been disinfected.

Phone or message recipients to inform them you are to leave bagged food on doorstep. Withdraw 2 metres (6 feet) and ensure recipient collects food.

Encourage recipients to wash their hands before and after delivery, as well as disinfecting food stuffs (that are packaged in glass, plastic or cardboards) and bags they received.

To disinfect surfaces you can use household cleaning products including; disinfectant disposable wipes and diluted household bleach solutions (further details here). There is also a helpful video to explain this all here.

Making meals safely

  • Ensure all foods are within manufacturers use by dates
  • Food preparation areas must be clean and disinfected
  • Does the person have any allergen requirements?
  • Is the food suitable for the individual? i.e have the capacity to prepare meal, may require food that is ready to consume.

Food preparation:

  • Cook foods to be piping hot or boiled
  • If required cooling, ensure to cool as quickly as possible and place in refrigeration.
  • Cold foods to be immediately covered and chilled.

Food delivery:

  • Food should be eaten within two days of preparation.
  • Food should be frozen on day of delivery and defrosted in a fridge overnight
  • When reheating foods they need to be piping hot throughout
  • Make sure hot food is delivered hot and cold food is delivered cold.
  • Use single use container or a container that have been disinfected and air dried.

Visit the Food Standards Scotland site for further details.

I want to do more than just help neighbours?

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.

What about existing services?

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.

When will volunteers be needed?

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. 

How can I use social media?

Please share this information far and wide with anyone who may be thinking about volunteering or helping out during the current situation.

What if I find out someone needs help?

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.

What other activities can I do?

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.
Is there guidance for organisations?

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

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 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

If organisations are looking to source free training on anything that this is useful at the moment, can they email requests to for more information.


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Please get in touch if you have any other ideas for content on this page by emailing, we will be updating this page regularly and are happy to share any suggestions.

Thank you for visiting our dedicated page for guidance on volunteering effectively and safely during the pandemic and as we progress from lockdown, and we hope you find it useful. This page is provided and maintained by Volunteer Edinburgh and while we encourage you to share this page widely (including outside Edinburgh) so that as many people as possible have access to the information, we do ask that you attribute the page and content therein to us. Since we will be regularly updating and building on the resources available here it is preferable to share the link as opposed to, for example copying and pasting the text, so that everyone has access to the latest and most accurate information. You will find sharing links in the sidebar (below on mobile). Also in the sidebar you will find a graphic for including on your site, email signature, newsletter or document.

* This page is provided by and maintained by Volunteer Edinburgh. Page last updated Friday 26 June.