FAQs for referring organisations

FAQs for referring organisations

In this guide you'll find answers to questions that you may have about the Volunteer Responders programme as an organisation or professional who is able to refer people for support.

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

How to refer

You can make referrals by submitting details online via the GoodSAM referrer portal[1] or by calling our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2].

Which organisations can make a referral?

Referrals for volunteer support can be made by professionals, including:

  • Approved charity partner
  • Approved VCSE organisations
  • Community pharmacy
  • General Practice (GP)
  • Healthwatch
  • Hospital
  • Local authority (multi-disciplinary teams)
  • Member of Parliament (MP)
  • NHS111/Ambulance Trust
  • Police or fire service
  • Resilience Forum member
  • Social housing provider
  • Social prescribing/link worker scheme.
Who is eligible for support?

See referral criteria[3] for more information on who is eligible for support for each volunteer activity.

How do I refer someone?

For our current volunteer roles you can make referrals by submitting details online via the Volunteer Responders GoodSAM referrer portal[1] or by calling our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2].

How do I refer people in for multiple activities? Can I do this?

You will need to make a new referral for each activity required by the person needing support. Multiple activities cannot be selected on the same referral form.

What part of the UK can I make a referral for?

Volunteer Responders is an NHS England scheme that runs in England only.

I don’t have an NHS or GOV email address, can I make a referral?

You can make referrals directly if you have an nhs.net or gov.uk email address. We will approve requests from alternative addresses as quickly as we can within 72 hours, or you can make referrals through your local authority.

Should a single nominated person set up an account on behalf of each professional referring organisation?

This is open to each eligible professional organisation to decide. We have left this flexible to suit different needs. If you want a colleague to access your referrals we suggest you use a generic email address when setting up your GoodSAM account.

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

More information about the volunteer services

What support are volunteers able to provide?

Please see support available[4] for details of volunteer support.

What other roles will be available?

We frequently review the needs of the programme, and we will update referrers when new roles are added, for example following a successful pilot activity.

How are tasks matched to volunteers?

This depends whether the task is an urgent same day task where the request will be available to registered volunteers who are on duty in the local area via the GoodSAM app or if it is a shift based task where it will be available to volunteers in the local area to select in advance. Once you submit the referral it will go into the system to be matched or selected.

I have a person who would like to speak to a volunteer in a different language. Is this available?

Our system will automatically search for a volunteer who speaks a persons preferred language stated on the referral, but unfortunately we can't guarantee a match. If there isn't a volunteer available to match the person's preferred language or in their area, the search will default back to English.

I have placed a referral for multiple volunteers, but there aren’t enough volunteers accepting the requests.

Contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2], who will be able to pass your referral on to the programme team for investigation. It may be that the information in the alert is not clear enough, or the details have been recorded incorrectly. The programme team will also be able to access another route to help you access more volunteers. 

Can volunteers support in the evenings?

All volunteering acitvity must have concluded by 8pm, volunteers are not able to help after this time. You should ensure that when making a request you are clear in the task information about timings.

Can volunteers help with chores or personal care?

Volunteers cannot support people with personal care. Please see our list of acceptable and not acceptable activities[5] in the referrer guidance for this activity.

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

Completing the referral form

How do I make a referral?

Log in to the admin area of the GoodSAM website[6] - It is advised to use Google Chrome for this.

Go into the 'referrals' tab and click on the button for the type of referral you are making.

What information do I put in the client/organisation box?

Please read our referral form guides[4] to see what information is needed or contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2] for further information.

The referral form asks for a personal email address, what if they don't have one?

This is not a mandatory field.

I'm trying to make a referral but the address keeps changing when I'm keying it into the system?

Please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2].

I haven’t received a verification email after entering my first referral?

Firstly, check if the verification email was sent to your junk/spam inbox. If the verification email cannot be found, please call the Support Team to generate another verification email on 0808 196 3382[2].

What is GoodSAM?

GoodSAM stands for Good Samaritan and is a platform that has been saving many lives since its launch. It alerts those trained in resuscitation to cardiac arrest to nearby incidents, while the ambulance is on its way.

It is because of this technology of coordinating volunteers to those in need, that the system has been adopted for the Volunteer Responders programme.

What happens if my referral task is not matched?

You can click on tasks on the referrer dashboard to view the task/alert to check progress. Contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[7] if you have a concern about your task. 

I'm requesting a Pick Up and Deliver volunteer, what items can I ask to be delivered?

Please see our Driving Support - Pick up and Deliver activity guide[8] for full details of what our volunteers can transport.

I keep receiving phone calls directly from volunteers saying I need support, yet they should be calling the person they are supporting?

You may have entered your phone number instead of the phone number of the person requiring support. Please log in to the Referrers' Portal and check the client phone number listed. If necessary cancel the referral and submit a new one.

It is especially important that you cancel this request if you have requested a repeat referral (e.g. weekly) because volunteers will continue to call you directly. Please ensure you have fully read the instruction document embedded within the referral form.

I've been unable to register as a referrer, can I speak to someone about this?

Please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2] if you have not been able to register as a referrer.

What information do I need to make a referral for Steward Volunteers?

We recommend that you read the referrers guidance that is specific to Stewarding Support[9].

How long are the volunteering shifts for the steward role?

Volunteers have been asked to commit to 4 hour shifts. If they need to have an on site induction they may be on site for 4 hours 30 minutes.

No referrals/tasks should be raised for longer than 4 hours 30 minutes but you can add shifts to run concurrently i.e. 8:00-12:30 and 12:30-17:00. 

We recommend that you read the referrers guidance that is specific to Steward Volunteers[9].

I require volunteers on a daily basis to support a vaccination site. How do I raise this request?

Please see our guidance for making a referral[9] to support a site for full details of how to complete the referral form.

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

Monitoring, amending or cancelling a referral

How do I search for an existing referral?
  1. Log in to the GoodSAM website[10]. It is advised to use Google Chrome for this.
  2. Go into the 'referrals' tab.
  3. In the free text box, key in the first name, surname or email address to search for the referral.
How can I cancel a referral?
  1. Log in to the GoodSAM website[10]. It is advised to use Google Chrome for this.
  2. Go into the 'referrals' tab.
  3. In the free text box, key in the first name, surname or email address to search for the referral.
  4. Once you have found the referral you can click ‘Cancel referral’. A push notification will be sent to all volunteers who have already accepted the task and the task will be removed from the volunteers app.
I can’t access my referral, can you tell me if it has been completed/I need to see if a referral has been completed by a volunteer

Please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2] if you are unable to access your referrals.

I’ve tried resetting my password and still can’t login/I cant find my login details

Please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2] if you are unable to access your account.

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

Safety and safeguarding

What safety checks are carried out? Are all volunteers DBS checked?

ID checks are carried out for all volunteers. All roles require ID checking with a passport/driving licence and some roles require additional checks e.g. a DBS check. 

Please see our DBS checking[11] page for more information. This approach is in line with Home Office guidance around eligibility for DBS checks.

How do you safeguard people being supported?

The safeguarding of people and volunteers is paramount. Royal Voluntary Service have a safeguarding framework to support Volunteer Responders.

This includes:

  • A trained Safeguarding Team working 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week picking up concerns.
  • All volunteers have an identification page within the app which they must show to the person they are supporting.
  • A volunteer agreement which details expected behaviours of volunteers.
  • A volunteer Problem Solving Team to help with low-level volunteer concerns or issues.
  • A process for removal and/or banning of volunteers or people from the service for inappropriate conduct or behaviour. If you have a concern about a volunteer please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[2].
How do I raise a safeguarding concern with Royal Voluntary Service?

Safeguarding concerns can be raised by calling the Support Team on 0808 196 3382, [2]who will pass the information to the Safeguarding Team.

Who is liable if something goes wrong?

Royal Voluntary Service’s Liability Insurance Policy covers up to 2 million volunteers. They will only accept liability if the volunteers are following the guidelines and boundaries that have been set.

How can I check volunteers are genuinely part of the scheme?

Any volunteer engaged in an active task under this scheme will be able to evidence this by showing you their ID on the Volunteer Responders app on their mobile phone, where you can see that they are actively carrying out an assigned task.

Will volunteers who drive as part of their volunteering have to sign a driver declaration?

All volunteers will receive a Getting You Started Guide appropriate to the roles they sign up to. As part of the terms and conditions of volunteering, driving volunteers are asked to declare that their vehicle is roadworthy as outlined by UK law, has a valid MOT certificate and is taxed for use on the roads and that they have a valid driving licence.

What type of insurance/liability will transport volunteers hold?

Volunteers using their own car for voluntary purposes to support others should check the information on the Association of British Assurers website[12] before undertaking any driving activity as you may not be insured, the information includes a list of insurers who do not charge extra for volunteer driving.  

Are all volunteers over 18?

Volunteers must be over 18 years old.

What training do volunteers undergo?

All volunteers will receive a Getting You Started Guide appropriate to the roles they sign up to so they will have specific, clear and detailed guidance which will enable them to provide support safely. 

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024


How do I provide feedback about the programme?

There will be regular opportunities to share your feedback via our communication channels and surveys, or with your Regional Relationship Manager[13].

You can also share feedback on Inclusion via our Inclusion Hub[14].

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

Programme changes - June 2024

Why are the changes taking place?

Changes have been made to the Volunteer Responders programme to make it easier for you to request volunteer support for your site and/or the person you support.

What are the changes?

Support will be separated into role types for easier navigation of the volunteer support available e.g. Telephone Support, Site Support. A range of different volunteer activities will sit under each role type.

More volunteer activities will be available to request as shifts. This means you can book volunteers in advance and can monitor which shifts have been filled and which volunteers have accepted them. For particularly urgent requests, you will still be able to request a volunteer to provide immediate assistance via an alert.

There will be space for you to add a description of your task so you can offer volunteers more information about the support you need.  This allows you to tailor your requests within the boundaries of the activity. However, you must not add private information about a client into the description box.

You will also be able to track your referrals via a referrer dashboard which will give you a greater view of the status of your referral.

What volunteer roles have changed?

All current volunteer activities will be available, but we have updated some names. Check In and Chat Plus has become Companionship Calls, for example, to improve understanding.

Under the Community Response role type, we have separated out large and small shops and pharmacy collection and delivery – this can also be used for other types of prescription delivery such as glasses or hearing aids.

In addition, Connect, which is where you can request a volunteer to accompany someone to an activity in the community such as a lunch club or walk, now sits under Community Response. Connect is now available nationally.

What volunteer roles are new?

We have introduced new volunteer role types including In Home Support and Driving Support Plus. Through In Home Support, currently available in Kirklees, Birmingham, Buckinghamshire and Bournemouth with more to follow, you can request a volunteer to visit someone to help them enjoy a hobby or social activity in their home for example to play cards, bake cakes or do some gardening together.

Under Driving Support Plus, we have a new activity Pick Up and Deliver Plus. Requesting this support, will mean the volunteer will be able to deliver the medication and / or equipment to the patient’s home and will be able to store items appropriately.

What happens to referrals?

Most requests for volunteer support already in the system or added before 3 June will continue until they expire.

Referrers and people receiving support do not need to do anything. We will contact individual referrers directly if we need to update any requests in line with the changes we’ve made to the system. This will mainly be for some long running Check In and Chat and Pick Up and Deliver requests added before 3 June.  

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024


  • [1] https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHSreferral
  • [2] tel:08081963382
  • [3] /i-am-a-professional-referrer/referral-criteria
  • [4] /i-am-a-professional-referrer/support-available
  • [5] /guides/community-response/connect
  • [6] http://www.goodsamapp.org/login
  • [7] Tel:08081963382
  • [8] /guides/referrer-guide-driving-support
  • [9] /guides/site-support/stewarding-support
  • [10] https://www.goodsamapp.org/login
  • [11] /guides/the-goodsam-app/dbs-checking
  • [12] https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/motor-insurance/volunteer-drivers/
  • [13] /i-am-a-professional-referrer/regional-relationship-managers
  • [14] /im-a-volunteer/inclusion