The guidance on this page is specifically to support local community and voluntary groups to make informed choices about their group, activity, or building under COVID-19 restrictions.
(For other resources for groups, such as Covid Risk Assessment templates, leaflet templates, funding, signposting to other services etc, click here)
We have worked alongside local partners to identify best practice to safely operate.
If there is any guidance that you need that is not listed here, or if you have a specific question, please get in touch, and we’ll try to answer it.
Groups & organisations are encouraged to send a representative to join the Covid Champions programme. This ensures you have a good understanding of the coronavirus and how to stop the spread, you have access to medical professionals and local advice, you will get all relevant updates and changes, and you have access to regular catch-up sessions at which groups are able to feedback any concerns or questions. It is a good way to ensure due diligence when preparing to re-open a service and to keep your community / group as safe as possible.
The key thing to bear in mind, is that just because you are legally allowed to run your community group, doesn’t mean that you should. You have to carefully consider the risks both to your volunteers and your participants / community members. Joining the Covid Champions programme means you can discuss your situation with our trainers and others in the community and get answers to queries, to help make the best decision.
An overview of the Roadmap and analysis as it relates to community groups and volunteering
Covid-19 and Community Buildings
- COVID-19: Government Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities
- A good overview of advice around the use of community centres/village halls during covid-19 times – Providing advice and information to help rural communities – ACRE | Action with Communities in Rural England
- Model risk assessment for community halls
Safe Volunteering Guidance (click here)
For model Risk Assessments, see the Resources page
Covid Regulations for Community Groups
As of the 29th March, the Stay at Home directive has been lifted. However many of the same lockdown restrictions and guidelines remain in place. We are now allowed to meet OUTDOORS (including private gardens) in groups of up to 6 people from outside your household/bubble or two households (if the total number is greater than 6 people) but social distancing must remain in place. There is no directive that this must be local, although we are not permitted to stay away from home overnight until 12th April. Organised outdoors sports can start up again. Most of the other regulations about what is permitted remain as per the national lockdown. For an overview of the government’s roadmap and how it impacts community groups click here
- Activities your group can organise
- General rules for group activities
- Links to government and other national guidance
Activities your group can organise
National lockdown regulations mean that you can:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable or isolating person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- meet outdoors within the rule of 6 (or 2 households)
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble indoors, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare
Your group can therefore organise some outdoor activities with up to 6 people, be it for exercise, leisure, support or any other reason. There are exceptions when larger in-person gatherings are permitted, which mean that your community group can organise some very limited in-person activities and provide services for certain groups of people.
You need to think carefully about the risks, and balance how essential the activity is with the safety of volunteers and participants. Think about doing a Risk Assessment – more info on this page. If it can happen virtually, then you should still not meet in person.
The exemptions are:
- Voluntary or charitable services
- Support for vulnerable people
- Support groups
- Children under school age or people dependent on round-the-clock care
- Community Centres and places of worship
Voluntary or charitable services
You are permitted to leave your home to provide voluntary or charitable services, or to access these services. Gatherings of more than six people are permitted for the purposes of providing voluntary or charitable services where they cannot reasonably be provided by people working from home.
Support for vulnerable people or people who are self-isolating
You can still leave home to buy food, run errands or provide care for someone outside your household who is defined as ‘vulnerable’ in the regulations. This includes everyone aged over 70, anyone who is pregnant and anyone with an underlying chronic health condition. It is also permitted to leave home to support someone who is self-isolating.
Your community group is allowed to bring together up to 15 people to offer each other mutual aid, therapy, or any other form of support.
The guidance says:
Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. Support groups must not take place in a private home. Examples of support groups include those that provide support to:
- victims of crime (including domestic abuse)
- those with, or recovering from, addictions (including alcohol, narcotics or other substance addictions) or addictive patterns of behaviour
- recent parents (including breastfeeding, postnatal, and baby and toddler groups, for the provision of support)
- those with, or caring for persons with, any long-term illness or terminal condition or who are vulnerable
- those facing issues related to their sexuality or identity including those living as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
- those who have suffered bereavement
- vulnerable young people, including to enable them to meet youth workers.
The limit of 15 does not include children under 5 who are accompanying a parent or guardian
Childcare, children’s activities and youth work
Your group can provide:
- early years childcare
- respite care
- youth work in groups of up to 6 people OUTDOORS
- outdoor children’s activities and outdoor carer & child groups
- indoor support groups for parents, children and young people if they conform to rules above for support groups.
General youth clubs will have to stop running during the period of national lockdown.
Children under school age or people dependent on round-the-clock care
Children under school age and carers of people dependent on round-the-clock care are specifically exempted from the limits on numbers of people who can meet each other.
Community buildings can open for:
- essential voluntary activities or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency)
- support groups
- childcare provided by a person registered under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006
- supervised activities for early years children, vulnerable children or children of critical workers.
Places of Worship
You can still attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times. You should follow the national guidance on the safe use of places of worship.
General rules for group activities
For every activity that your group organises, the group is responsible for ensuring:
1. Participants follow social distancing guidelines
This means that people who do not live together should:
- keep 2 metres apart from one another;
- avoid physical contact; and
- avoid touching the same items or surfaces.
If people cannot stay 2 metres apart, they should stay 1 metre apart and wear face masks.
2. The activity follows ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines
To make sure that the activity you are organising is as safe as possible, your group must:
- Complete a Covid-19 risk assessment
- Hold the activity in either a public outdoor space or an indoor venue that has ‘Covid-19 Secure’ measures in place
- Ensure everyone washes or sanitises their hands as soon as they arrive at the activity, and regularly throughout
- Minimise people touching the same surfaces or items e.g. cups, chairs, pens
- Plan the activity in a way that allows people to socially distance
- Make sure there is good ventilation
- Take part in NHS Test and Trace
- Not allow anyone to come to the activity who has Covid-19 symptoms
Covid-19 Secure measures
Most community centres and venues that hire out rooms are now following ‘Covid-19 Secure’ guidelines, but always check before you book. To be ‘Covid-19 Secure’, the venue must: have a Covid-19 risk assessment; clean more often; ask visitors to socially distance and wear masks; increase ventilation; take part in NHS Test and Trace; turn away anyone with Covid-19 symptoms.
3. Specified sub-groups do not mix with each other before, during or after the activity
It is the group’s legal responsibility to ensure that no one socialises with anyone outside their own household or support bubble in any breaks or at the beginning or end of the activity session (except within the rule of 6).
Links to government and national guidance
Govt advice on volunteering (13/11/20) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/enabling-safe-and-effective-volunteering-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Charity Commission – Guidance to running your charity during COVID-19