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FAQs for NHS Volunteer Responders

Accepting/rejecting alerts

I need help setting up the GoodSAM app and guidance on how to respond to alerts

The step-by-step guidance for setting up the app and responding to alerts can be found in your Getting You Started Guides and on our NHS Volunteer Responders website. We also have a video you can watch to help get you started:  GoodSAM app video.

I have not received an alert or request to help yet

Firstly, thank you for your patience. We are continuously looking at ways we can expand the NHS Volunteer Responder programme by raising awareness and allowing people to self-refer in for support.

Do I have to accept every request that comes through?

No, only commit to what you can. Turn your ON DUTY toggle to on when you are available and select OFF when you are not available. If you do not want to accept a specific request, click 'Reject' on the GoodSAM app.

I’ve had a request but I signed up for multiple roles, I’m not sure what task is being asked of me?

Look at your notification/request for support, at the very top you will see what support is being asked of you. If you have been asked to do a task that is not within your role, please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 for them to review the roles assigned to your volunteer profile.

What happens if I accept a request but then find that I cannot make it or get delayed?

You can ‘Pass to another volunteer’ via the GoodSAM app if you can no longer help. If you have been delayed, please inform the person you are supporting as soon as you can.

My alert is for someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19), what do I need to do?

If members of the public are self-isolating because they have confirmed coronavirus, have suspected symptoms, or they have been in contact with someone who has, they will also be able to request support from the NHS Volunteer Responders. Alerts for this group of people will be clearly identifiable so you can choose to 'Pass to another volunteer'. Find out more about safety and social distancing whilst undertaking your role.

I have called the person requiring support and they said they do not need help anymore?

If you make contact and find out that they do not want any support at this moment in time then press “CONTACTED – NO HELP NEEDED”.  If they inform you that they no longer want any support and want to be removed then press ‘CLIENT WANTS TO BE REMOVED’. This will alert us that the referral needs to be cancelled and allow us to closely monitor this activity.

I have received an alert for Patient Transport but the appointment is in a few days?

If you are able to support the individual, just click 'Contacted – provided help', that way the alert will not be passed onto another volunteer. If you are unable to accept the request press 'Pass to another volunteer'. Please make sure you do this as soon as possible to ensure the individual can make arrangements with somebody else in time.

Can I screenshot the person’s details so I can call them later?

The details of a task will remain on your phone for 2 days minimum. We ask that you do not screenshot the details as this may transfer to a storage area like the cloud. Please note that if you select that you have completed a task (prior to actually completing it) the details will disappear.

How long will the information regarding the alert stay on my phone?

The details of a task will remain on your phone for 2 days minimum. The length of time the details will stay on your phone depends on what number volunteer you are within the alert cycle, therefore for most people, the alert will be on your phone for longer than 2 days, however please be assured that if you are the last volunteer to receive the alert you will still have the details for 2 days. Please note that if you select that you have completed a task (prior to actually completing it) the details will disappear.

I have accepted a task for the future (a few days time) but can no longer help?

Call the individual to let them know you are not able to support them. Then tell them that you will call the Support Team to ask for another volunteer to undertake this task. Please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 and ask them to raise a one-off, identical referral for the individual to receive the support as an urgent request.

I have received an alert that is 50 miles away from me?

Unless you are a Check In and Chat Volunteer, please 'Pass to another volunteer'. This may happen if the location settings are not correct on your phone. Make sure your location settings for your phone and the app are turned on and wait for another referral to come through. However, it may be that the information from the referrer is incorrect, so if you continue to receive the same alert please call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382. If you are a Check In and Chat Volunteer, GoodSAM have now widened the alert area for this service but you are able to accept requests from further away as it does not require you to travel to their home.

I’ve been alerted to help the same person more than twice over a 4 week period, what should I do?

You must 'Reject' the request or if you have already accepted the task, press 'Pass to another volunteer'. Do not carry out the task; for safeguarding reasons volunteers are not permitted to support the same person more than twice over a 4 week period.

I am a Check In and Chat Volunteer, can I call the same person twice over a 4 week period?

You are only able to call the same individual twice within a 4 week period. If you find that you are getting numerous alerts for the same person, please 'Pass to another volunteer' on the GoodSAM app or ring the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I am a Check In and Chat Plus or Community Response Plus Volunteer, can I support the same person more than twice over a 4 week period?

As these roles require a DBS certificate on application, you are able to provide ongoing support to the same individual.

Why am I receiving alerts after 7:30pm?

The GoodSAM app will only send notifications up to 7:30pm, however due to your signal/wifi availability/settings you may receive these alerts to your phone after this time. Please note our Support Team is open until 8pm on 0808 196 3382 if you need any help.

Why have I received an alert from yesterday?

This may happen if the referral was made and accepted by a volunteer who then dropped it after the 7:30pm cut-off. If you are unsure about whether you will be able to complete an alert, please reject it to ensure it is sent to another volunteer in time to avoid this happening.

Does being a NHS Volunteer Responder mean you will be called to an emergency? Is this the same as a First Responder for heart attacks?

You will only be asked to support tasks linked to NHS Volunteer Responder roles you agreed to do. The GoodSAM app is used by a number of organisations for different purposes, such as emergency responses. However, you will be using it as part of the NHS Volunteer Responder programme, which does not involve dealing with medical emergencies.

I can only support during the evenings and weekends, is this ok?

Yes, of course, whatever support you can offer is appreciated. You just need to ensure that when you can support, the ON DUTY toggle is turned ON in the GoodSAM app. When you are unavailable for support switch the ON DUTY toggle to OFF. That way you will never be sent requests for support when you are unavailable. 

Can I add another role to my volunteer record?

Yes, you are able to add another role if it has the same vetting criteria. This is because some of our roles require a DBS whilst others do not. For example, if you are a Community Response Volunteer, you are able to add Check In and Chat to your role - however you would not be able to add a Community Response Plus role.

Go to and log in with the email address you used to sign up, you will be able to amend your roles under the ‘Change your current roles’ tab.

Can I stop certain alerts/remove a role from my volunteer record?

Yes, you can untick a role by logging in to using the email address you used to sign up, and access the ‘Change your current roles’ tab.

How will I know what type of support a referrer requires from me as a Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations)?

Referrers have been advised that they must include the type of support they require in the additional information section of the task alert e.g. stewarding at a COVID-19 vaccination site. If you have not received clear task information in your alert, you can reject the task. You may also want to raise this with the Support Team who can contact the referrer and advise them to re-submit a more detailed referral.

What types of support cannot be requested under the Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) role?

Volunteers should not be expected to perform duties such as a receptionist role, clinical roles or stewarding for non-healthcare events or transport hubs. If you have received an alert requesting these types of support, please call the Support Team who will contact the referrer.

I have selected ‘I will attend’ for a Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) task but can no longer attend, what should I do?

Once you have confirmed attendance, this will show on your ‘tasks’ screen with attending in green, next to that shift. If you need to cancel a shift, swipe across the task, still on the tasks screen, and press ‘no longer attending’.

How long can I hold on to a task, once accepted, before I complete it?

When you accept a task in the GoodSAM app, it will stay on your phone for a minimum of two days. Please do not write down the details of the task as this is a breach of our GDPR guidelines. Only select ‘Contacted - Help Provided’ once you have completed the task. While you have a task open, you will still be able to pass to another volunteer, should you be unable to complete it. You will not receive other task alerts until the open task is actioned.

Can I complete an additional task while another task is still open?

For all NHS Volunteer Responder core roles you will only be able to complete 1 task at a time. This is to prevent any volunteer taking on too many tasks and then finding they are unable to complete them, leaving clients without support. This rule does not apply if you are a Steward Volunteer or Patient Transport Volunteer and have signed up for future shifts. In this case you will still receive task alerts for any NHS Volunteer Responder core roles you also have.


Print entire guide Page last reviewed: 09 July 2021

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