FAQs for referring organisations

FAQs for referring organisations


Referring organisations: this means any organisation or professional who is able to refer people for support.


This document provides guidance for healthcare professionals and other related organisations about Volunteer Responders.


Volunteer Responders is being delivered by NHS England in partnership with Royal Voluntary Service and enabled by the GoodSAM Responders app.

The volunteer initiative has mobilised volunteers who are available to provide support.

Referrals for volunteer support can be made by any healthcare professional, 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

How to refer

For our current volunteer activities you can make referrals by submitting details online via the Volunteer Responders referrer’s portal[1] or you can call 0808 196 3382[2] to make a referral.

Page last reviewed: 11 April 2024

How to refer

For our current volunteer activities you can make referrals by submitting details online via the GoodSAM referrer portal[1] or by calling our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[3].

Who is eligible for support?

See Support for vulnerable people[4] 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[3].

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: 19 February 2024

More information about the volunteer services

What support are volunteers able to provide?
  • Check In and Chat: Provides telephone support to people in need of companionship and encouragement to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This support will be a one-off phone call for up to 18 weeks.
  • Check In and Chat Plus: Provides regular telephone support to people who may be housebound and have little contact with others, are anxious about leaving the house or have recently been discharged from hospital in need of companionship and encouragement to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This support will be 3 calls a week, over a 6-week period.  
  • Community Response: Provides support with the collection and delivery of essential shopping, prescriptions or lateral flow tests where there is a current health need. This is on a one-off basis or for a period of 6 weeks, days and times to be agreed between the volunteer and the person supported.
  • Pick Up and Deliver: To transport equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites or to people who have been recently discharged or are on virtual wards.
  • Connect support: Support for people to enjoy a range of activities in the home or in their community. 
  • Steward Volunteer: Provides stewarding at sites where COVID-19 vaccinations are taking place.
What other roles will be available?

We frequently review the needs 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?

Once a professional referrer has made a request for support, the request is identified as an active volunteer task to volunteers registered in the local area. The volunteers pick the task they want to do that day and close the task once complete. Volunteers show themselves as 'available' when their app is switched to 'on duty'. This is a live system. Once you submit a referral it will go into the system to be matched.

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[3], 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. 

Page last reviewed: 11 March 2024

Completing the referral form

How do I make a referral?
  1. Login to the referrer's portal of the GoodSAM website at goodsamapp.org/login[5] - It is advised to use Google Chrome for this.
  2. Go into the 'referrals' tab
  3. Click 'Add a New Referral' to add a new referral
What information do I put in the client/organisation box?

Please provide information of the site e.g. address of person being supported, hospital discharge lounge, GP surgery, pharmacy etc. If the volunteer is attending a site, they will need details of the location they are required to attend. If you are unsure about what to include when filling out the form please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[3] who can help you to fill out the form.

The referral form asks for an email address for the person who needs support, 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[3].

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[3].

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 if you have a concern about your task.  

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

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[3] 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 Steward Volunteers[6].

How long are the volunteering shifts for the steward role?

Volunteers have been asked to commit to 4.5 hour shifts. No referrals/tasks should be raised for longer than 4 hours. You can add shifts to run concurrently i.e. 8:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00.

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

If you require volunteers on a daily basis (consecutively) e.g. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday - select the ‘daily’ option in ‘periodcity’.

You will be asked to enter the number of days you require volunteer support, if Monday-Friday you would enter 5 days.

The start date, start time and end time you have entered will be repeated on a daily basis, for the number or consecutive dates you have entered.

Page last reviewed: 11 March 2024

Monitoring, amending or cancelling a referral

How to log in to add a referral?
  1. Log in to the admin area of the referral portal at goodsamapp.org[5]. It is advised to use Google Chrome for this.
  2. Go into the 'referrals' tab.
  3. Click 'Add a New Referral' to add a new referral.
How do I search for an existing referral?
  1. Log in to the referral portal at goodsamapp.org[5]. 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 referral portal at goodsamapp.org[5]. 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.
How can I check if volunteers have accepted to attend a Stewarding task?
  1. To monitor the progress or status of a request, please log into the GoodSAM platform.
  2. Click ‘referrals’, then ‘search referrals’. Either search by a start or end date or use the free text box to enter information regarding your referral to search. Once you have found the referral click on ‘tasks’. If you already know the task ID number you can key this into the ‘task id’ box.
  3. On the search tasks screen you will find further information regarding your referral. In the ‘status’ section you will see an overview of how many volunteers have accepted the task and how many are outstanding.
  4. Click ‘see referral’ to review the referral details.
  5. Click ‘see assignments’ to review the list of volunteer/s that have reviewed and actioned the task. You will see the first name, surname of the volunteer and the task ID.
  6. The task status will show as – Will attend – Volunteer has selected 'I will attend' or 'No longer attending' - Volunteer has accepted but can no longer attend.
How can I track whether my referral(s) have been completed?

After you have confirmed your first referral a link will be sent to your email address (please ensure you look in your junk mailbox if you don't receive this). You will also receive a password. This will then become your log in to the GoodSAM website and you will be able to search or view the referrals you have made and cancel referrals if needed.

You are able to check if a referral has been matched with a volunteer by logging into the GoodSAM website,[5] then searching approved referrers in the Referrals tab and entering your email address into the “or by free text” box. Once your referral has been found, you can look at the status of the referral and also click on tasks.

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[3] 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[3] if you are unable to access your account.

Page last reviewed: 16 November 2023

Safety and safeguarding

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

ID checks are carried out for all volunteers, depending on what activity they undertake these can differ. All roles require ID checking e.g. passport/driving license and some roles require additional checks e.g. a DBS check. The following roles have been assessed against DBS requirements and adhere to current advice on DBS checks. All DBS are within 12 months of issue from date of volunteer application.

  • Check In and Chat: Volunteer without DBS
  • Check In and Chat Plus: Volunteer with Enhanced DBS
  • Community Response: Volunteer DBS: Volunteer with an Enhanced DBS with Adult Barring.
  • Pick Up and Deliver: Volunteer without DBS
  • Connect: Volunteer with Enhanced DBS
  • Vaccination Steward: Volunteer without DBS

This approach is in line with Home Office guidance around eligibility for DBS checks.

How do you safeguard people who need support?

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[3].
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, [3]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 activities 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[7] 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 activities they sign up to so they will have specific, clear and detailed guidance which will enable them to provide support safely. 

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[8]. To find out who they are contact the Support Team 0808 196 3382[3].

Page last reviewed: 11 March 2024

Connect pilot activity

What information should I include in the referral form for the connect activity?

Our referral guidance includes all the information you should need to log your referral. In the free text box it is helpful to include details about the person’s home such as, if there are any pets at the property, if there will be anyone else at the property, does the person smoke and any other information that will help the volunteer. We ask you to include this so that volunteer can assess if they are able to support i.e. they might have an allergy to pet hair.

Can I place a referral for a volunteer to support a person every day of the week?

Referrals can be made as a one-off support task once a week, or a once-a-week visit for up to 6 weeks. This activity is not intended to replace the work of paid employees or care staff. You could also refer the person for other support such as Check In and Chat if you think they would benefit from this.

Can volunteers help with chores or personal care?

Volunteers cannot support people with personal care. Please see our list of acceptable and not acceptable tasks.[9]

How do I find out if the referral is being fulfilled every week?

Login to your GoodSAM dashboard where you can check if your referrals are being fulfilled. There is guidance on our website to support you or if you have any queries, please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382[3] who will be able to support you.  

Page last reviewed: 01 December 2023


  • [1] https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHSreferral
  • [2] tel:080801963382
  • [3] tel:08081963382
  • [4] /i-want-to-refer-someone/support-for-vulnerable-people
  • [5] https://www.goodsamapp.org/login
  • [6] /guides/referrers-guide/steward-volunteer-support-referrer-guide
  • [7] https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/choosing-the-right-insurance/motor-insurance/volunteer-drivers/
  • [8] /i-want-to-refer-someone/regional-relationship-managers
  • [9] /im-a-volunteer/connect-activities