Volunteer Agreement

The basic guidelines needed to volunteer with the Support Line

  • Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene. Wash your hands when you get home from being out in public.
  • If you have any questions or concerns relating to a task please reply by text to the Support Line.
  • Once a task is completed please reply by text to the Support Line including the task number to inform us it is complete.
  • Delete contact details (phone number and address) once you no longer need them. Only keep them for a task that is ongoing.
  • Under no circumstances should you enter a person’s house.
  • Deliveries should be left on the doorstep. After delivering, knock on the door to alert the person, then leave or move to a safe distance (2m plus) while you wait to ensure that they've picked the delivery up.
  • Avoid handling cash if possible – ideas for other ways to handle payments can be found in the FAQs below.
  • Please be respectful of people’s belongings and property. We will report anyone who abuses this voluntary position and take such abuses extremely seriously.
  • Be cheerful and make general conversation.
  • Think beforehand about suggestions you can make of things they can do to keep them occupied.
  • Make sure that you listen more than you speak, ask them lots of questions; don’t just speak about your own life but take the time to really listen.
  • Do not make over-commitments and promises that are unrealistic, do not commit to anything that involves physical contact with people.
  • Never promise confidentiality; if you need to pass information on, please reply to the Support Line or the relevant authority.
  • If you are concerned about someone’s health, encourage them to check the advice at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or phone 111.

Volunteer Handbook

For the full and comprehensive version of the information on this webpage, please download the volunteer handbook. 

 

Volunteer FAQs

General questions 📝

  1. In most cases, the first thing to do is phone the requester to confirm the details of the request.
  2. You may need to agree a time for you to collect or deliver items, and make arrangements for payment.
  3. When you have completed the request, reply to the SMS (text message) number which you received the details from, to let the Support Line team know.
  4. If you have any problems, questions or concerns at any point, similarly reply to the SMS number, and a member of the Support Line team will get back to you.
We recommend giving your first name only, and make it clear that you are calling on behalf of the Lancaster District Support Line, then give whatever information you know about the request e.g. ‘I understand you would like help getting some shopping’, then ask how you can help.
Dial 141 then dial the number you want to call to stop your number being displayed on that individual call. This works on a call-by-call basis, so you must do it for each call for which you want to hide your number. Your phone may well have a setting to turn this on permanently if you'd prefer that. This should work for both mobile phones and landlines. Note that the Support Line doesn't require you to do this, but we recommend it if possible.
If there is a problem or query related to the task, reply to the text from the Support Line summarising the problem. If your query is simple to deal with, we just text you back with the answer. If there is something more complicated that needs resolving or you need more support, we will pass it on to a member of our troubleshooting team, who may phone you to discuss the issue further, or possibly take the request off your hands for us to resolve. You can also text in to ask for someone to phone you if the problem is more serious or urgent, or you can't summarise it easily in a text message. We will get someone to phone you as soon as we can.
Once a task is complete please reply by text to say so, and include the request number. We’ll then update our system accordingly.

Handling payments 💷

First of all, see if there’s a way to enable the requester to pay themselves.

  • 🛒 If you are doing shopping for someone, several shops and supermarkets can take payment over the phone or have other systems to allow people to pay for shopping that someone else is collecting. See the ‘Collecting shopping’ section below for more information.
  • 💊 If you are collecting a prescription, check first whether the person is exempt from paying. If you do need to pay, some pharmacies will take payment over the phone, so ask about this.

If it's not possible to arrange for the requester to pay directly, you may need make the payment yourself and have them pay you back afterwards.

  • As a volunteer you need to pay for the items initially (please don't ask for payment up front).
  • There is a small risk involved in relying on being paid back, so try to avoid expensive orders and keep purchases below e.g. £20.
  • If possible, have them pay you back via bank transfer or get them to post you a cheque.
  • Please do NOT take someone's credit or debit card to make a payment on their behalf.

If the options above aren't feasible, you may need to ask people to pay you back in cash – this is particularly relevant for many older residents. If doing this please follow the guidelines below:

  1. Place the items along with the receipt in front of the door and step back to a safe distance (2m).
  2. Ask the resident to place the correct cash on the receipt in an envelope or plastic bag on the door step, and then step back to a safe distance or shut the door.
  3. You can then pick up the money. Handle this carefully; disinfect it when you get home and wash your hands thoroughly.

Try and return the money if possible, or refuse deliberate over-payments. Use your common sense - if this is a few pence because you don't have change that's fine. Anything more substantial needs to be dealt with more carefully. Please contact the Support Line team, who can advise you on how to proceed. Even if you plan to re-use it, e.g. to buy shopping for another request where the person can't afford it, you should let us know for accountability and to protect yourself from any potential allegations.

Hope Church can collect money on behalf of the Support Line. This money will be ringfenced to only be used for the costs associated with running the Support Line, and any surplus passed on to The Olive Branch food bank. Please email supportline@hopelancaster.co.uk for details on how to make or pass on a donation.

Collecting shopping 🛒

Firstly, there are several different options where the requester can make the payment themselves:
  • Help the person connect with a local shop that is able to take orders and payment by phone, and ideally deliver for them (e.g. some Londis stores). See the Contacts and Resources page for ideas of which shops offer this.
  • As above, but they may need someone to go and collect the shopping if the shop doesn't do delivery.
  • Go shopping for them, then get the shop to phone and take payment at the check-out. The best place for this is Booths, but other places like Country Style Farm Shop will also offer this option.
  • Volunteer shopping card schemes are also in place at M&S and ASDA. You may want to familiarise yourself with these schemes and suggest it as an option. This might work best for people tech-savvy enough to order one of these and either print it out or email it to you.
If it's not possible to arrange for the requester to pay directly, you may need to do the shopping yourself and have them pay you back afterwards
  • As a volunteer you need to pay for the items initially (please don't ask for payment up front).
  • There is a small risk involved in relying on being paid back, so try to avoid expensive orders and keep purchases below e.g. £20.
  • If possible, have them pay you back via bank transfer or get them to post you a cheque.
If the options above aren't feasible, you may need to ask people to pay you back in cash – this is particularly relevant for many older residents. If doing this please follow the guidelines below:
  1. Place shopping along with the receipt in front of the door and step back to a safe distance (2m).
  2. Ask the resident to place the correct cash on the receipt in an envelope or plastic bag on the door step.
  3. Handle this carefully; disinfect when you get home and wash hands thoroughly.
  • There is no obligation to undertake a regular commitment. If you wish to do so and are happy to exchange your contact details with them to make this possible, you are free to.
  • Otherwise please simply inform them that you’re not able to make that commitment, but that they are welcome to submit a new request via the New Request form or via a text message to 07473932641
  • If you do offer to help on a more regular basis, but later find that you're unable to continue doing so, please let the Support Line team know or ask the requester to submit a new request.

Collecting prescriptions or medication 💊

  • You can collect a paper prescription from a GP surgery for someone if they've told the surgery they're happy for you to collect it. You will usually be asked to confirm the name and address of the person you're collecting the prescription for, so make sure you get this information. You should also take your ID with you to the surgery.
  • You can then take the paper prescription to a pharmacy to collect the medicine. However, the patient must have completed part 1 of the prescription form (FP10) and you (the person collecting the medicine) must complete parts 2 and 3.
You will need to be able to confirm the name and address of the person you are collecting this for, so make sure you know this information. It is also helpful to confirm how many items you are collecting, as the pharmacist will often check this with you. You should also check whether the prescription will need paying for.
  • There are many people who are exempt from prescription charges including anyone over the age of 60. See this page on the NHS website for more information. If in doubt, it's worth checking with the person you are collecting it for before you go to the pharmacy.
  • The pharmacist will check the back of the FP10 form to make sure it's signed and the appropriate category is ticked if the person is exempt from paying charges, and that you're acting on their behalf and have their permission.
  • If a patient has to pay prescription charges, you'll need to make arrangements for payment; see the 'Handling Payments' section above.

Controlled medicines include morphine, pethidine and methadone, among others. These types of medicines are sometimes misused so they have stricter legal controls on their supply. For this reason we would suggest that anyone who needs this type of medication regularly, signs up with Pharmacy2u at www.pharmacy2u.co.uk (see the next question for more information).

If this is not possible, or if a patient has no other option than to ask a volunteer to collect a "controlled medicine" for them, then the patient must phone their pharmacy in advance to explain who will be collecting their medication. When the volunteer collects the medicine the pharmacist will request proof of identity from the volunteer, before releasing the paper prescription and/or medication. The pharmacist may also phone the patient for further verification.

Pharmacy2u is an online pharmacy that allows you to order your medicines from your computer, tablet or smartphone, and have them posted to your home free of charge.

When someone signs up they will be asked to enter their personal details, including their address, GP surgery and debit card details. They can then add their medicines to their account, and request repeat prescriptions on the Pharmacy2u website. The medicines will be posted straight to their home, with no charge for delivery, and they usually take 5-10 days to arrive.

The is an option you could recommend to people who need regular prescriptions collecting, especially if this includes controlled medicine(s). If you or someone you're helping need help setting up an account with Pharmacy2u please ask, and someone from the Support Line team will be able to help you over the phone.

Phoning for a chat 💬

We are offering this service to provide extra support and a listening ear to those who might be affected by loneliness and isolation and various issues related to Covid-19, especially for those self-isolating and shielding. We are not able to provide health advice, counselling or other professional support - even if you have professional qualifications in some of these areas, could you please respect this and direct callers via NHS or other suitable channels as the Support Line could be held responsible for the consequences of any advice given. A lot of people are lonely due to self-isolation and just want a friendly chat, but other people (and even some conversations that begin as simple chats) may wish to discuss deeper issues like loneliness, depression, family or financial problems, bereavement, worries about their loved ones, fears about their health and well-being. Some people might require specific information and signposting – if you feel that you are not able to provide this yourself, make it clear to the caller and pass the request up to the Support Line team, who make be able to refer the person to an appropriate organisation.
The main purpose is to provide a listening ear, we need to be clear that we are not able to provide a solution to their personal problems but show that we care and show each person that they matter. We are not trained “listeners” or counsellors but some useful tips and principles include:
  • being sensitive and empathetic: attempting to see the situation from the caller’s perspective
  • being non-judgemental: respect radically different views
  • being non-directive: not provide any advice on personal issues but provide caller space to talk through their concerns, which in itself can lead them to better clarity
  • using open questions starting with How, Why, What helps with a conversation to explore some of their concerns
  • some people might be happy just to chat while others might find it more difficult or become upset; you can acknowledge silence by saying things like “just take your time” or “I’m listening” and “I feel this is really difficult for you"
We would encourage you to keep your anonymity. When calling, introduce yourself by your first name, but it might be advisable not to disclose too much personal information – remember the main focus should be on the caller and finding out about them.
The content of your conversations should remain confidential, though you should never promise total confidentiality in case you come across issues that will require you to pass some information on to others. If you come across issues that you feel are beyond your competence or require specialist input, such as imminent suicidal tendency, you might want to clarify – for example, by asking “Are you saying that you are thinking about killing yourself?” and also explain your responsibility to call for an ambulance if you identify somebody in immediate danger and they disclose their location to you. You should also feedback to the Support Line team if you have had calls that you found difficult or concerning, so we are able to support. In cases like these, send a text message asking for someone to phone you and a member of the team will call you as soon as is possible.
Please discontinue any phone calls that become abusive, inappropriate or manipulative in any way, and please report this to the Support Line team straight away. Your well-being is important to us and any abuse of this service is not acceptable.
In this case there are two options:
    1. If you are willing and able you can fulfil this request yourself, but there is no obligation to do so.
    2. You can submit the request via the New Request form for another volunteer to follow-up and fulfil. Please let the person know you are doing this and make sure they have the details of the Support Line so that they can submit future requests via the form or text number (07473932641).
You are under no obligation to do this. If you would like to offer a follow up call, or regular chats you are welcome to, but try to plan how much support you are able to give ahead of phone call and also think about your own well-being. Let the Support Line team know if a one-off request has turned into ongoing support like this. If for any reason your situation changes and you are not able to continue, let the Support Line team know so the request can be re-assigned to another volunteer. If you’d rather not commit to further calls, make sure they know that they are welcome to submit further requests to the Support Line and check that they know how to do this.