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Community Response Volunteer

Fact sheet - Community Response payment options

We want you to remain safe and ensure both yourself and the individual you are supporting are protected. We recognise that people who are self-isolating may not have access to normal payment methods.

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. Remember you must always show your ID to the isolating person.

We appreciate that during these difficult times it may be challenging to arrange a suitable payment option for both yourself and the person you are supporting. 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.

We are in the process of developing more flexible payment options and will email to update you as they emerge. You are not permitted to take an isolating person's bank card to a cashpoint to withdraw money on their behalf or pay for shopping contactless or pin payments. You are only permitted to use the “Cash access scheme” please see details below.

In the situation where you are supporting an individual with purchasing goods we advise the following steps.  Please read all options below before calling the isolating person.

Find out what they need

  1. Call the isolating person and introduce yourself, let the person know that you are an NHS Volunteer Responder who is going to support them with their practical needs, determine if this is shopping, collecting shopping that has already been paid for, or prescription collection. See relevant options below.
  2. Discuss the payment options with the isolating person before the request is completed.
  3. If none of the payment options are suitable, and you feel the person cannot get food in any other way, please contact the Support Team who will be able to escalate this to our Safeguarding Team.

Payment options

The options below are in order of preference and ease for both you and the person you are supporting.

Supermarket click and collect service 

Where possible, we are encouraging people to use a click and collect service if this is available at their local supermarket. The isolating person can place the order online and then share a reference number with you to go and collect the shopping on their behalf.

Phone, pay and collect

Check to see if the client is able to order and pay by phone at a local trusted shop. Then when ready, you can go and collect the shopping and deliver on their behalf. Please note major supermarkets are unable to support this process.

Payment over the phone at checkout

This option will allow you to go to a local store and payment details for the shopping can be taken over the phone by the shop assistant.

  1. The client should check that their local shop can do this by calling them in advance. Most Spar stores have confirmed this payment option. Check the local store is participating before you travel.
  2. The isolating person will give you their shopping list and a codeword for use at the till.
  3. At the shop explain that you are a volunteer and you would like to use the “Customer not present” payment option. Then show your ID profile page on the GoodSAM app.
  4. When at the till, share the codeword suggested by the isolating person with the shop assistant. This will make the isolating person feel more comfortable when sharing their card details over the phone once they have heard their codeword. Please note major supermarkets are unable to support this process.

Pre-paid supermarket physical voucher/gift card or e-voucher/e-giftcard

If the isolating person has a physical supermarket gift card/voucher or an e-voucher/e-giftcard (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 store's website. Many other supermarkets are developing their websites to enable people to buy cards directly.

  1. Collect the physical card/giftcard or print out of the e-voucher/e-giftcard before your shop and return it afterwards.

Prepaid cards 

If the client has a physical prepaid debit card or would like a pre-paid card there are 2 organisations which will arrange this. Further payment information. The prepaid card can be topped up by the client and used for contactless payment in stores. You will need to collect and return the card.

Natwest, RBS and Ulster bank operate a ‘Companion Card’ system

The person you are supporting can use the ‘Companion Card’ to give you a method of paying for their essential goods. The ‘Companion Card’ can be topped up by up to £100 every 5 days. The card can be used to make payment or withdraw cash to make payment. The card will be associated with the individuals bank account but kept separately on the bank’s system, therefore no personal banking details will be shared. ATM withdrawals are restricted to £50. For more information visit natwestgroup.com or contact the bank directly on:

  • NatWest’s dedicated vulnerable customer lines on 0800 051 4176
  • Royal Bank of Scotland’s dedicated vulnerable customer lines on 0800 051 4177
  • Ulster Bank’s dedicated vulnerable customer lines on 0800 092 4238

Please note – If you are given a physical card, please ensure this is handed back to the client with a receipt for the goods purchased. Please follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines. We advise that all cards are put into a box or bag to reduce contact this is vital if supporting a person with confirmed COVID-19.

Using PayPal

Please use the Friends and Family option to transfer funds via PayPal.

If using this method, we ask that the client transfers the money to you in advance of any shopping. You can then transfer back any change.

  1. If only you (the volunteer) has PayPal you can request a payment from the client if they have a mobile phone.
    1. Log into your PayPal account to request a payment.
    2. If using a mobile phone/app - tap on Request; and if using a desktop - click on Send and Request then Request.
    3. Insert the isolated person’s mobile phone number. Put in the amount due and simply press Request Money
    4. The isolated person will receive a link by text to your PayPal account where they can pay by Debit or Credit Card
    5. The money will be deposited into your PayPal account and available to use in real-time.
    6. You can log into your PayPal account, go to the transaction and provide a partial refund of the change if needed.

  2. If both the volunteer and isolated person has a PayPal account
    1. You can share (through mobile phone) your PayPal payment address and the amount owed.
    2. The client can send the money by their PayPal balance or by a Debit or Credit Card.
    3. The money will be deposited into your PayPal account and available to use in real-time.
    4. You can log into your PayPal account, go to the transaction and provide a partial refund of the change if needed.

Grocery Choice Voucher

  1. The person will need to exchange their Grocery Choice Voucher online with a retailer of their choice.
  2. You will then be able to collect and return the e-giftcard/voucher. These can be used at a number of stores.

Paying with cash

As a last resort you are able to accept cash to pay for the shopping. We do not permit you using your own money, you must visit the client to collect the cash before going shopping.

  1. If you are using this option you must show your ID profile page on the GoodSAM app to the client before accepting the cash. 
  2. You must supply a receipt for the goods purchased to the client.
  3. When returning with the shopping please place the receipt and any change on the doorstep, sanitise your hands after handling cash and follow social distancing guidelines.
  4. The maximum value of cash that can be exchanged is £45.
  5. If there is a disagreement over cash please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

Cash access scheme (Post Office)

If the isolating person's bank allows it, they can ask for a one-time barcode to be issued and sent by text, email or post for a stipulated amount. You can then go and collect this barcode and go to the Post Office and exchange the voucher for the cash requested. We have advised that the client calls their bank to see if they offer this service in advance.

Natwest, RBS and Ulster bank operate a ‘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 on getting cash from NatWest cash machines. This can also be done over the phone for up to £100. Contact Natwest/RBS/Ulster for more information.

Tesco Bank Cash Home Delivery

Customers who are self-isolating or shielding can get cash delivered to their home free of charge. The service is available to Tesco Bank’s savings and personal current account customers and utilises the Tesco Travel Money home delivery service. Customers can have between £20 and £500 safely delivered to their home by Royal Mail Special Delivery. Tesco Bank has created a contact centre process to help identify customers who might benefit from this service. See Tesco Bank for further information. 

Please note – If you are given a physical pre-paid card/giftcard or paper e-voucher/e-giftcard please ensure this is handed back to the client. Please follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines. We advise that all prepaid cards and e-vouchers are put into a box or bag to reduce contact this is vital if supporting a person with confirmed COVID-19.

Find out which supermarkets support these payment methods.

Pharmacy - Paying for a prescription

  1. Call the client and introduce yourself, let them know that you are an NHS Volunteer Responder who is going to support them with their prescription collection.
  2. Explain that they will need to call the pharmacy and place an order for their prescription over the phone and make payment. Help them to find out the contact details for the pharmacy if they need support.
  3. Tell them that you will call them back within 10 minutes to check that the payment is confirmed. You will also need to check what time the prescription will be ready for collection. (Remember the client will not have your phone number, as you should always with-hold your number. You will have to make all call to them).
  4. If the pharmacy will not accept payment over the phone, please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 who will be able to help find a solution.
Print entire guide Page last reviewed: 08 September 2021
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