Community Response Volunteer

Community Response Volunteer

Getting You Started Guide

Community Response Volunteers help with a range of activities including collecting and delivering food shopping, essential items, prescriptions and where eligible, lateral flow tests for immunocompromised people, to a diverse range of people living within their local community.

Healthcare professionals can refer people waiting to be admitted to hospital or those who have just been discharged or people can self-refer themselves for support.

The volunteer support for this doorstep delivery service is available either as a one-off or once a week for a maximum of 6 weeks. 

All requests for support will come from the GoodSAM app as an alert.

Volunteers will receive 6 alerts (one per week) to support the same person for a 6 week period, this will be a new alert each week. If a volunteer doesn’t accept the alert within a 10-minute time-frame it will be passed onto another volunteer.

If a volunteer is not available for the 6 weeks continuously, they can reject an alert and this support will pass onto the next available volunteer. When calling a person to discuss the support required, be mindful that they may have received support from a different volunteer in previous weeks.

You will support a range of people in diverse communities, and we ask that make sure everyone feels supported, welcomed and valued for who they are.

Further information on how you can support people with accessibility needs and learn about different backgrounds and communities can be found in our Inclusion Hub[1].

Page last reviewed: 19 February 2024

Before your first call

  1. Ensure you withhold your number. This is to protect you from unsolicited calls and to ensure safeguarding procedures are followed. You can do this by dialling 141[2] before the person's number or go into your phone's settings. You can read more about Data Protection and confidentiality[3] as well as safeguarding[4].
  2. It is important to uphold the confidentiality of the person at all times. You may receive/hear personal information or details through conversations. All forms of personal information must be treated with respect and be handled in a highly confidential way.
  3. Think about how you safely store contact details, do not leave these in a place that other people can access. If you are able to lock these away in a safe place, please do so. If you need to destroy this information please ensure it is shredded in a confidential manner.
  4. If you call and don’t get an answer, try again later that day. If you find that you are not able to make contact after 3 attempts please press the ‘PERSON DID NOT ANSWER’ button on the GoodSAM app, this will alert our Support Team to follow up.

Full guidance for using the app can be found in Using the GoodSAM app[5].

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2023

Supporting with shopping

Contacting the person that you are supporting

Call the person to let them know that you will be supporting them either as a one-off or as part of the 6-week period as requested. Agree how you can support them and what date and time will work best each week, only taking instruction from the person named on the referral. You may decide to call every week and check requirements or agree a set day to support. Let them know that you will not be able to enter their home, you are only able to place shopping/medication on the doorstep or just inside the doorway and they must be home to receive the items.

Step 1 - Volunteers should call the person to confirm what they need:

  • Ask if they need you to do their shopping or go to pick up a pre-paid order.
  • If you will be doing their shopping, make a list of what they need or collect it from them beforehand (maximum £60 per visit).
  • Volunteers are not permitted to purchase alcohol or tobacco products for the person being supported.
  • Ask if there are any brands the person requires, or should you still buy the item if their preferred brand is out of stock? Please also check if the person has any dietary requirements.
  • Ask how they would like to pay for the goods. See payment options[6]
  • If you need to collect a voucher, pre-paid card or cash in advance of shopping, arrange a suitable time to go and collect.
  • Explain that you will only be able to drop off the shopping at the doorstep and check they are able to come to the door to collect it.

Step 2 - Complete the request

  • Go shopping and deliver the shopping to the person making sure you give them a receipt.
  • If you don’t have access to transport and are using public transport or a bike, please ensure expectations are managed with the person being supported as to the weight of goods you can manage at any one time and don’t overload yourself.

 Step 3 - Deliver the items

If you have agreed to drop off shopping or other essential items, confirm with the person:

  • Estimated time of arrival. On arrival, you will knock or ring the doorbell.
  • Agree a form of payment for the shopping and refer to payment options for further guidance.
  • You will leave the shopping at the front door. Request the person retrieves the shopping from the doorstep.
  • Any receipts, gift card or change that needs to be returned should be returned.
  • Allow the person to check the receipt matches the amount spent.


Page last reviewed: 03 November 2023

Payment options - Shopping

We want to ensure both yourself and the person you are supporting are protected. We recognise that people may not have access to some of the payment methods listed.

If you or the person you are supporting have any concerns over payments, please refer these concerns to the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[7]. Remember you must always show your GoodSAM ID to the person you are supporting.

We appreciate that it may be challenging to arrange a suitable payment option. We have recommended several options below, we advise you discuss the options available with the person you are supporting and come to agreement before the shopping is ordered, collected and delivered e.g. on the initial phone call you make to the person you are supporting.

You are not permitted to take a person's bank card to a cashpoint to withdraw money on their behalf or pay for shopping contactless or by pin payments. You are only permitted to use the Cash Access Scheme[8].

In the situation where you are supporting a person with purchasing goods we advise the following steps. Please read all options below before calling the person.


The options are in order of preference and ease for both you and the person you are supporting.

Supermarket click and collect service

The person can place the order online at their local supermarket and then share a reference number with you to go and collect the shopping on their behalf.

Paying with cash

We do not permit you using your own money, you must visit the person to collect the cash before going shopping.

You must show your ID profile page on the GoodSAM app to the person before accepting the cash.

You must supply a receipt for the goods purchased to the supported person.

The maximum value of cash that can be exchanged is £60.

If there is a disagreement over cash, please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[7].

Pre-paid supermarket physical voucher/gift card or e-voucher

If the person has a physical supermarket gift card/voucher or an e-voucher (available online or a friend or relative could buy in store), they can share this with you. Digital e-vouchers can also be bought online either on a general gift card site or directly from the stores website.

Collect the physical card or print out of the e-voucher before your shop and return it afterwards.


If using this method, we ask that the person transfers the money to you in advance of any shopping. You can then transfer back any change.

If only you (the volunteer) has PayPal you can request a payment from the person if they have a mobile phone.

  • Log onto your PayPal account to request a payment.
  • If using a mobile phone/app - tap on Request; and if using a desktop - click on Send and Request then Request.
  • Insert the isolated person’s mobile phone number. Put in the amount due and simply press Request Money
  • The isolated person will receive a link by text to your PayPal Account where they can pay by Debit or Credit Card
  • The money will be deposited into your PayPal Account and available to use in real time.
  • You can login to your PayPal account, go to the transaction and provide a partial refund of the change if needed

If both the volunteer and person has a PayPal account

  • You can share (through the mobile phone) your PayPal payment address and the amount owed.
  • The isolated person can send the money by their PayPal balance or by a Debit or Credit Card.
  • The money will be deposited into your PayPal Account and available to use in real time.
  • You can log into your PayPal account, go to the transaction and provide a partial refund of the change if needed.

Natwest, RBS and Ulster Bank ‘Get Cash’ system

The person you are supporting can use the ‘Get Cash’ option on their mobile banking app and choose the amount of cash to withdraw, this cash will become available for 3 hours using unique code provided to the requester, which they can share with you. The cash is retrieved at NatWest cash machines or Tesco ATMs, using just the code (no bank card needed). More information is available here. This can also be done over the phone for up to £100.

Contact Natwest[9]RBS[10] or Ulster Bank[11] for more information.

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2023

Supporting with prescriptions

During your activity you may be asked to collect and deliver a prescription on behalf of a person.

Step 1 – Arranging the collection

Volunteers should call the person to confirm they are collecting the prescription;

  • Ask which GP surgery or pharmacy will have the prescribed medication. Ask whether the person pays for their prescriptions or has an exemption or pre-payment certificate. If they do, refer to the making paying for a prescription section.
  • You may need to provide some personal details to the pharmacy to collect the prescription such as the person’s name and address. Check this information with the person beforehand. Ask the Pharmacist to place repeat prescription slip or any owing notes inside the bag and reseal with pharmacy sticker label. Follow any instructions given by the Pharmacy team, for example temperature sensitive medicines.
  • Let the person know what time you are going to collect and drop off the prescription.
  • Tell the person that you will only be able to drop off the prescription at the doorstep and check they are able to come to the door to collect it.

Step 2 – On delivery

  • Knock and wait for the person to come to the door. Ask the person for their name and address and check this on the labelling. Do not open the bag.
  • Only hand the medicines to the person who is named on the package or agreed on the phone call initially with the person being supported.
  • Pass the prescription to the person or place the prescription on the doorstep.
  • Pass on any information provided by the pharmacy or if any owing notes or repeat prescription slips are in the bag.

Important information

  • Protect the person’s confidentiality. When collecting prescriptions, the person may need to provide sensitive information such as details of their prescription. Volunteers must understand the level of confidentiality expected of them, a person’s privacy must be respected at all times.
  • Some medication may need to be stored in the fridge and you will be told this on collection. It is important to pass this information on to the person.
  • Any prescriptions that cannot be delivered need to be returned to the pharmacy.
  • Do not open the prescription bag. If the medication spills or breaks return to the pharmacy.
  • If the person has a question about the medication, please ask them to contact the pharmacy.
  • Under no circumstances are volunteers to administer any medication.

Payment options - Paying for a prescription

  1. Call the person and introduce yourself, let them know that you are a Volunteer Responder who is going to support them for up to a 6-week period.
  2. If they need support with a prescription, explain that they will need to call the pharmacy and place an order for their prescription over the phone and make payment. Help them to find out the contact details for the pharmacy if they need support.
  3. Tell them that you will call them back within 10 minutes to check that the payment is confirmed. You will also need to check what time the prescription will be ready for collection. (Remember the person will not have your phone number, as you should always withhold your number. You will have to make all calls to them).
  4. If the pharmacy will not accept payment over the phone, see payment options[6] or contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[12] who will be able to help find a solution.

Page last reviewed: 03 November 2023

Supporting with lateral flow test collections

The NHS offers treatment to people with COVID-19 who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill and those eligible for treatment should keep lateral flow tests at home.

Eligible people will be able to pick up free rapid lateral flow tests from a local pharmacy. This will replace the current online and telephone ordering services for free lateral flow tests provided by GOV.UK and 119[13].

As a Community Response Volunteer you may receive a task from an individual that is unable to pick up these lateral flow tests. You can choose a pharmacy nearest to you as it does not matter where they are collected from.

You will need to establish the following information from the person to ensure you can pick up the tests from the Pharmacy:

Step 1 – Arranging the collection

Volunteers should call the person to confirm they are collecting the lateral flow tests

  • Call the person and let them know you need to ask some questions so you can confirm with the pharmacy that they are eligible for tests. Let the person know you will destroy this information in line with the programme data protection policy once you have collected the tests from the pharmacy.
  • You need to collect the following information from the person you are collecting the tests for: 
      1. The medical condition they have which has been identified as being at risk for COVID-19 (this is to confirm eligibility with the pharmacy)
      2. Full name
      3. Date of birth
      4. Address
  • Let the person know what time you are going to collect and drop off the tests.
  • Tell the person that you will only be able to drop off the tests at the doorstep and check they are able to come to the door to collect it.

Step 2 – On delivery

Follow safe practices when handing over the tests. You can wear a mask if you choose.

  • Knock and wait for the person to come to the door. Ask the person for their name and address and check this on the labelling. Do not open the bag.
  • You can ask the person to stand back from the door so you can place the tests down for them to pick up or hand them over.

Page last reviewed: 25 January 2024

Ongoing support

What should I do if a person asks me to continue supporting them beyond the 6 weeks?

Please explain that you are not able to continue supporting as a Volunteer Responder after the 6-week period has ended. A person being supported, can request further support via the professional referrer who raised the original request or people can self-refer for further Community Response[14] support from a new volunteer or for Check In and Chat[14] telephone support calls from a volunteer by calling the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[7].

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2023

Key points for Volunteer Responders

Other sources of information


  • [1] /im-a-volunteer/inclusion
  • [2] tel:141
  • [3] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/data-protection-and-confidentiality
  • [4] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/safeguarding
  • [5] /guides/the-goodsam-app
  • [6] /guides/community-response-volunteer/payment-options-shopping
  • [7] tel:08081963382
  • [8]
  • [9]
  • [10]
  • [11]
  • [12] Tel:08081963382
  • [13] Tel:119
  • [14] /id-like-support
  • [15] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/our-volunteering-agreement
  • [16] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/providing-an-emergency-contact
  • [17] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/equality
  • [18] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/reporting-accidents-and-incidents
  • [19] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/driving-for-royal-voluntary-service
  • [20] /guides/key-points-for-volunteer-responders/expenses
  • [21] /guides/mental-health-and-wellbeing-fact-sheet/5-steps-to-mental-wellbeing
  • [22] /guides/mental-health-and-wellbeing-fact-sheet/questions-to-explore-the-5-steps-to-mental-wellbeing
  • [23] /guides/dementia-fact-sheet/supporting-a-person-living-with-dementia
  • [24] /guides/mental-health-and-wellbeing-fact-sheet
  • [25] /guides/mental-health-and-wellbeing-fact-sheet/supporting-people-who-are-experiencing-severe-distress