Key information for Volunteer Responders

Key information for Volunteer Responders

The following sections contain key information for the different roles and activities carried out by Volunteer Responders.

All roles

Community Response and In Home Support

Driving Support Plus

Driving Support and Site Support

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

Our volunteering agreement

We want to make your volunteering experience with us enjoyable, rewarding and safe. 

The information below outlines what we can expect from each other whilst you volunteer with us.

You can expect us to provide you with:

  • A safe, respectful, fair and non-discriminatory volunteering environment.
  • A clear explanation of what your role involves, what is expected of you and who you need to speak to if you need support.
  • Payment of your transport expenses.
  • The ability to stop volunteering with us without pressure or judgement.

As a volunteer with Royal Voluntary Service we ask that you agree to:

  • Recognise that the needs of the charity’s beneficiaries are our priority.
  • Perform your volunteering role to the best of your ability.
  • Respect people’s differences and be willing to listen and learn, even when views and culture are different to yours.
  • Be accountable for your actions.
  • Support and abide by the charity’s instructions within the documents provided to you.
  • Not accepting any gifts or money from people you are supporting.
  • Respect and maintain confidentiality, keeping any information you gain about the charity, its services and those we help confidential, even after you leave.
  • Read the programme updates we send via email and SMS.

By agreeing to the terms and conditions in the sign-up process you are confirming that you have read and understood the requirements of the activity/ies for which you have applied for as a volunteer. This includes confirmation that you understand the boundaries and responsibilities associated with your role and know of no reason that you are unable to safely and competently perform your duties.

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2023

Providing an emergency contact

As our volunteer activities evolve, we want to put extra measures in place to ensure the safety of our volunteers.

We would like to invite all volunteers to provide an emergency contact to
their GoodSAM profile. We will only use this information in the event of an emergency or if our Support Teams can’t contact you when completing volunteering activity.

Please read the guidance to support you[12] to update your information.

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2023

Data protection and confidentiality

During your volunteering you will come across personal and sensitive information about individuals as part of the support you will offer. We want to make sure that all information stays safe and confidential in line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR Regulations 2018.

We want you to treat other people’s personal information in the same way you would want yours to be treated. If you do acquire information about a person you may be supporting (for example, names, addresses and possible medical information), we ask that you maintain confidentiality and do not discuss or disclose any data or information with anyone outside of Royal Voluntary Service, or with anyone who doesn’t need to know.

Taking photographs of people is also considered personal data. We ask volunteers not to take photos of people being supported you or other organisations since this could compromise someone’s confidentiality.


  • Keep any data secure and treat other people’s information in the same way you would want yours to be treated.
  • If you think there has been a mistake or breach of data protection tell Royal Voluntary Service about it as soon as possible so we can manage this.


  • Discuss any information or data with anyone outside of Royal Voluntary Service or with anyone who doesn’t need to know.
  • Leave any messages on answer phones with any personal information if you are not sure who is going to be able to hear them. Ensure others cannot hear you and avoid calls on loudspeaker if you live with others.
  • Take photos of the people you or other organisations are supporting.

Withholding your phone number

We recommend that you call the person you are supporting from a withheld number. This is to protect you from unsolicited calls and to ensure safeguarding procedures are followed. To withhold your number on individual calls just dial 141[13] before the telephone number you want to call.

Page last reviewed: 16 November 2023


Putting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion into practice

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

We all have a part to play in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for everybody, and hope the resources and links found are useful throughout your volunteering journey as a Volunteer Responder.

You might find it helpful to reflect on some of your own experiences or good practice and sharing them to benefit others. If you would like to do this, email [email protected][14]

Over the coming months we will be hosting learning opportunities via this page on a range of topics celebrating all identities and providing tips and useful resources to support you.

To get you started below are some top tips:

  • Respect people’s differences regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
  • Be willing to listen to others – If someone tells you something that is different to your own experience, rather than try to justify it, just listen. Remember that another person’s experience or perception is real to them.
  • Educate yourself and others - we are all learning, all the time. Inclusion is a learning journey, embrace change as an opportunity to learn and grown, and empower others to do the same. Its OK to not know everything and a great opportunity to go find the answers.
  • Call out any behaviour which makes you or someone else feel uncomfortable if you feel safe to do so, otherwise report it to the Support Team.

Visit our Inclusion Hub

Our Inclusion Hub[15] includes links and resources to improve your understanding of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Further learning

Watch this short video (approx 5-6 minutes) that introduces Equality, Diversity and Inclusion[16]

Page last reviewed: 25 January 2024


At Royal Voluntary Service we place the safeguarding and wellbeing of volunteers, employees and people we support above anything else.

You may come across vulnerable adults or adults at risk of harm and they should never experience abuse of any kind. We want you to be alert to any signs or patterns of abuse or deterioration in wellbeing or anything that may concern you and always raise your suspicions.

Be assured you will always be supported by the charity and not raising your concerns is worse than raising a suspicion that is incorrect. If anyone tells you of any type of abuse then remain calm, listen and reassure them that it will be taken seriously. Don’t promise confidentiality as you will need to speak to a limited number of people once you have this information and we ask that you ALWAYS report this to the Support Team who will escalate to the Safeguarding Team.

Our Support Team is available to support volunteers with any queries or concerns. They are available between 9am – 6pm, 7 days a week 0808 196 3382.[17]

Page last reviewed: 01 April 2024

Reporting accidents and incidents

Royal Voluntary Service needs to be informed of any accident or incident, no matter how small. It ensures we are doing everything we can to make your role as safe and risk-free as possible.

Therefore, any accident or incident that happens must be reported even when the person that has been injured says they are okay. For example, a volunteer may fall coming into a building and bruise their knee, other than being a little shaken, they appear to be fine. This incident needs to be reported as the fall may have caused further damage to themselves that they may not be aware of at the time.

  • Contact the emergency services if necessary
  • Notify a First Aider (if one is available)
  • Contact the Support Team to record the accident or incident on 0808 196 3382[18].

Page last reviewed: 03 November 2023

Driving for Royal Voluntary Service

All volunteers who are willing to drive their own vehicles for Royal Voluntary Service must read the information below and confirm that they have the following arrangements in place:

  • I confirm that the vehicle being used is roadworthy as outlined by UK law, has a valid MOT certificate where appropriate and is taxed for use on the roads.
  • I confirm that my driving license is valid, in date and appropriate for the vehicle I’m using.

Support for people who use their cars to help their communities

Volunteers using their own car for voluntary purposes to support others should check the information on the Association of British Insurers website[19] before undertaking any driving or other activity with your vehicle as you may not be insured, the information includes a list of insurers who do not charge extra for volunteer driving.

Top tips

  • We recommend you carry drinking water, hand sanitiser and mobile phone in your vehicle at all times.
  • Make someone aware of where you are going and when you are expected to return.
  • If lifting heavy items into your vehicle, please make sure you lift by bending your knees and not your back.
  • All drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt and not use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving.
  • Do not leave medication or equipment unattended in the vehicle for any length of time and where possible hide from view. We appreciate you may be delivering to several locations but do not leave medication in view whilst you are away from your vehicle.
  • If you are unable to deliver any medication or equipment, please return it to the pickup site the same day.

Driving emergency procedures

If you are involved in a road traffic accident or an incident which results in damage to your vehicle, loss or damage to property or injury to any people you must tell our Support Team 0808 196 3382[18]. All incidents and accidents must be recorded and reported in accordance with the incident, accident and allegation reporting procedures.

Follow the guidance below if you are involved in a vehicle accident:

Vehicle accident

  • Do not move injured passengers unless they are in immediate danger of further injury from other vehicles or from fire or explosion.
  • Call the emergency services immediately; provide them with information about the situation.
  • Determine the extent of and damage to both vehicles and/or property.
  • Do not under any circumstances apologise, admit blame or accept liability.
  • Record as far as you are able, the details of the accident.
  • Exchange information with others involved as detailed.
  • If possible take photographs of the incident, and obtain statements from any independent witnesses.
  • Report the accident/incident immediately to the Support Team by calling 0808 196 3382.

Page last reviewed: 11 March 2024


We want to make your volunteering experience with us enjoyable, rewarding and safe, and believe it’s important to make sure you’re not out-of-pocket for doing so.

We want to make your volunteering experience with us enjoyable, rewarding and safe, and believe it’s important to make sure you’re not out-of-pocket for doing so. You can find full guidance for understanding how the process works and how to claim back reasonable expenses within 1 month of the expense being incurred, such as mileage, phone calls and bus fares using our NHS and Care Volunteer Responder Expenses System.

Page last reviewed: 25 January 2024

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[18]. 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 Get Cash Scheme[21].

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[18].

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[22]RBS[23] or Ulster Bank[24] for more information.

Page last reviewed: 12 June 2024

Entering someone's home

This guidance is to ensure volunteers and the people supported are kept safe when entering a person’s home.

Most interactions will be positive, we just want you to be aware of any risks that may put yourself or the person you are supporting at harm. Please note that you should only enter a person’s home if directed in the Getting You Started Guide for your volunteering activity.

  • Ensure you follow the GoodSAM guidelines for Lone Working[25] when you accept and attend a support request as a Volunteer Responder.
  • Ensure you have read and understood the Getting You Started Guide for the activity you are supporting.
  • Make sure you have the Support Team number saved on your phone should you need to contact them. SUPPORT TEAM: 0808 196 3382[26]
  • If there is an emergency call 999[27] and then contact the Support Team to report the incident.

When you arrive

  • Say who you are, why you are there and show your GoodSAM ID on your phone.
  • Do not attempt to enter the home if the person is inappropriately dressed which may place you in a vulnerable position, or if the person appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • When entering a person’s home, try to keep the person in front of you.
  • Whenever possible and upon leaving, do not allow the person to come between you and the exit.
  • Ask for dogs or other animals to be put in another room. (Do not enter premises if a threatening animal is present.)
  • Check, as you go in, how the front door opens.
  • Take only what you need into the house. Do not spread your belongings around.
  • Study your surroundings and look for an exit.
  • Remain alert. Watch for changes in mood, movements, or expressions.
  • If you are concerned for your safety in any situation, remove yourself as soon as possible.

The environment

We all live very differently and it’s important that we avoid passing judgement on another person’s environment.

  • Try not to react to bad smells or surroundings that you consider to be “dirty”. However, if you feel the surroundings are unsanitary and want to leave, please do so.
  • Hoarding is a mental health problem where people have a strong need to keep things and not be able to throw things away. This may mean there can be a lot of clutter or possessions around. Always respect peoples living environments. If you feel a person could come to harm because of the situation, please report it.
  • If you think someone is at harm due to unsafe gas/electrical equipment or an infestation, please report it as soon as possible.

Minimising the risks

It is important to be able to recognise the signs of aggressive and threatening behaviour. Increasing tension may be signalled by a person's voice getting louder or dropping to a threatening tone.

Verbal threats should always be taken seriously:

  • Racist comments, sexist remarks or foul language.
  • Threatening gestures.
  • Agitation.
  • Pointing/poking fingers or pushing.

For some people who are behaving aggressively it is likely that they are afraid of losing control. You can reassure them that they are still in control of their own circumstances and that you do not represent a threat to them.

It’s good to:

  • Stay calm and keep your voice down.
  • Listen and be interested.
  • Avoid raising your hands or pointing.
  • Not stand too close and don’t touch a person who is becoming agitated.
  • Leave if necessary.

Mobile phone use

Volunteers should always carry a fully charged mobile phone and they should always check the signal strength. Keep to hand when in a person’s home and not in a handbag or coat elsewhere in the property.

You may need to use your mobile phone to research local opportunities or information. You may also want to suggest that the person you are supporting does this on their device if applicable. We recommend that you do not hand over your phone at any point.

Reporting incidents

If there has been any problem during a visit or even a feeling of unease the details should be reported to the Support Team on 0808 196 3382[26].

who will follow up with you and the person receiving support if required. Incidents that are left unreported can leave the next person in this situation at risk.

Page last reviewed: 05 June 2024

Lone working


  • [1] /guides/key-information/our-volunteering-agreement
  • [2] /guides/key-information/providing-an-emergency-contact
  • [3] /guides/key-information/data-protection-and-confidentiality
  • [4] /guides/key-information/equality
  • [5] /guides/key-information/safeguarding
  • [6] /guides/key-information/reporting-accidents-and-incidents
  • [7] /guides/key-information/expenses
  • [8] /guides/key-information/driving-for-royal-voluntary-service
  • [9] /guides/key-information/entering-someones-home
  • [10] #
  • [11] /guides/key-information/payment-options-shopping
  • [12] /guides/the-goodsam-app/emergency-contact-information
  • [13] tel:141
  • [14] mailto:[email protected]
  • [15] /im-a-volunteer/inclusion
  • [16] /im-a-volunteer/inclusion/watch-why-equality-diversity-and-inclusion
  • [17] tel:08081963382.%20
  • [18] tel:08081963382
  • [19]
  • [20]
  • [21]
  • [22]
  • [23]
  • [24]
  • [25] /guides/the-goodsam-app/lone-working-whilst-volunteering
  • [26] Tel:08081963382
  • [27] Tel:999
  • [28] /guides/lone-working