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FAQs for NHS Volunteer Responders

Steward Volunteer questions

This section will be regularly updated. Please also check the Getting You Started Guide  which will answer many questions about the Steward Volunteer role.

Role and application process

What is the Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) role, and what does it involve?

Steward Volunteers help people move easily and safely through health, NHS and care sites – in particular COVID-19 vaccination sites. You may also be asked to support at other sites including GP surgeries and pharmacies. You could be asked to support with managing queues and directing people to the right place. Stewarding at vaccination sites can also involve monitoring numbers and ensuring safe social distancing measures are followed.

Do I need any qualifications or experience?

No experience or qualifications are required. You will work as part of a team that will include NHS staff and volunteers. Any information you need for the role will be provided before you start your volunteering.

I applied for the Steward Volunteer role but haven’t had a response yet. When will I be contacted?

Please also be aware that existing NHS Volunteer Responders who have applied for the steward role won’t receive an approval email but their profile will be updated automatically to reflect their new role once their stewarding volunteer application has been accepted. You can check which roles you’re currently registered for by logging into your GoodSAM account.

Can I claim expenses?

You can claim expenses and if you are already a NHS Volunteer Responder you would log in to SAP Concur and claim in the same way. Each scheduled task you attend will generate a specific case number/task ID. This will be uploaded to the expense system the following day after attending in order for you to claim. If you are new to volunteering with us once you attend your first scheduled tasks in GoodSAM you will have an expenses log in and username generated and this will be sent to you on your registered email, with instructions on how to log in and claim expenses. For more information on what you can claim, visit concur.co.uk/rvs

Where can I find my case number/task ID to claim?

The case number/task ID will automatically upload to the expenses system once you have completed your shift and will show in the drop down menu when you start a new claim. You can find the case number/task ID in GoodSAM app by going into the reports section.

Role requirements

As a Steward Volunteer, how often do I need to volunteer?

You need to commit to at least 2 x 4 hour shifts at a vaccination site each month. It can be done alongside your existing NHS Volunteer Responder role.

There is a requirement to do at least 2 x 4 hour shifts – but a lot of my shifts are only 3 or 4 hours, is this a problem?

When you registered to be Volunteer Steward, we outlined a monthly minimum commitment of 2 x 4 hours shifts each month to help us ensure we can meet the demand and need for steward volunteers. However, as some sites do request shifts for 3 or 4 hours you would not in anyway be penalised for this. We want you to volunteer as much as you can in line with your own personal circumstances.

The task says that I need to be there for 12 hours

This is a mistake in the task request. Each volunteer shift is a maximum of 4 hours and you will not be required to be available for longer than 4 hours. Please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 to let them know if you receive a task that is longer than 4 hours.

Is there a maximum number of shifts I can do?

If you are willing and able, you can commit to as many shifts as you feel able to support.

What if I have said I will attend and something changes?

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’.

Please remember to cancel if you are no longer able to attend a Steward Volunteer shift. This enables the team to identify another volunteer to meet the quota.

What happens if a referrer cancels Steward Volunteer shifts?

If a referrer cancels a request for Steward Volunteers and you have said you will attend, you will get a message in the messages/comms section of GoodSAM app. It will let you know of the cancellation and the shift/s will no longer show on your ‘tasks’ screen of GoodSAM.

I have arrived at shift and been sent away as they do not need volunteers?

Referrers have the facility to cancel a request for stewards or amend the number of stewards required. If you experience this then please contact us to let us know by calling the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 or email problemsolving@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk. We will then follow this up and support the site to mitigate this happening again for you and for other volunteers.

Do I need to call the referrer before I attend?

No. If you would like to discuss details of the task please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

Can I call the vaccination site for more details?  

Please do not contact the referrer or vaccination site directly. Vaccination sites will be very busy. If you have any questions, please look at the Getting You Started Guide and these FAQs or if you need to speak to someone, please call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I have been asked to complete a volunteer agreement at the vaccination site, is this correct?

Volunteers will be asked to do this by the NHS organisation responsible for managing vaccination sites in their area, known as a Lead Provider. It is an agreement between the Lead Provider and the volunteer, not with NHS Volunteer Responders or Royal Voluntary Service.

Can Steward Volunteers assist with testing in schools?

We know how keen people are to support the fightback against this virus, but unfortunately, the NHSVR programme is not able to provide volunteers for school virus testing. This is because our insurance arrangements would not cover this, and also because school volunteers would need to have DBS checks for working with children.

As always - if anyone has the extra time they can join up for other volunteering schemes as well as NHS Volunteer Responders, we just ask that you continue to be available with our programme as well.

How to use the App

I have had welcome email but when I log in to the app, there are no shifts in future tasks tab?

It’s important to check that all settings are correct and that notifications and location access has been enabled. We have provided guidence in our GoodSAM app guide, 'how to download and enable settings'.

You should also check to make sure that you have the latest updates to the GoodSAM app. You can check this by going into your phone settings, into apps and checking if any updates are needed for the GoodSAM app. You can also check the GoodSAM app in Apple Store or Google Play and if there are updates required you will be able to click on updates. This will ensure you have the latest version, and nothing is restricting access to future tasks.

If you are still experiencing issues, then please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 or email problemsolving@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

When will I start receiving alerts for the Steward Volunteer role?

The first shifts for Steward Volunteers have now gone live in certain areas. Many more will follow in the coming weeks, and shifts will appear in the ‘tasks’ tab of the GoodSAM app as and when vaccination site request help. You will not receive the usual GoodSAM alert when shifts come live on the app, so we advise volunteers to check this tab frequently.

How will I know when I am needed?

A request for you to support will appear in the ‘Future tasks’ section of the app. This can be found at either the top or bottom of the screen depending on whether you are using an iPhone or Android. For your information, a scheduled task is a request for support in the future. You will need to check in here frequently as, unlike other NHS Volunteer Responder roles, you do not need to be on duty or get an alert to accept or reject.

This differs from other NHS Volunteer Responder tasks such as Community Response, Patient Transport and Check in and Chat where volunteers are alerted by the GoodSAM app as soon as a request is received and tasks need to be completed within a few hours or a days, usually by a single volunteer.

Please note: Our normal NHS Volunteer Responder request e.g. Community Response, Check In and Chat, NHS Transport, Patient Transport will not appear in the ‘Future tasks’ section of the app. You will still need to switch to ‘on duty’ to receive these alerts as normal.

How can I accept a task?

If you wish to accept the task, swipe across the screen and press ‘wish to attend’. Alternatively, within the ‘your contact’ screen, click on show details and you will see a ‘wish to attend’ button. You can click this to confirm your attendance.

Can I change the distance for my Steward Volunteer role on the app?

The distance for Steward Volunteers is currently set automatically at 32km (19.8 miles). For all other roles including Community Response, Patient Transport and NHS Transport, you can change the distance slider under the ‘Me’ tab. Adjusting the distance for any other roles won’t affect the 19.8miles/32km distance for the steward role.

I cannot see the Tasks tab on the app – what can I do?

This means that your phone has not processed the latest updates in the app. You can uninstall and re-install the GoodSAM app and then log in using your email and the password you chose when you registered with us. This will ensure you have the latest GoodSAM app updates.

I am struggling to use the app and find where I can see the scheduled requests for support?

Go to Using the GoodSAM app for a step by step guide to logging onto the app or join one of our volunteer webinars where you can speak to a member of the team.

I am a Steward Volunteer and all my booked shifts have suddenly been cancelled and disappeared from the app. Why has this happened?

Occasionally shifts you have booked may be cancelled by the vaccination site due to unforeseen circumstances. However, if you have a series of shift cancellations and/or they disappear from the app with no further details, please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 so that we can investigate why this has happened.

Volunteer safety

What training will I be given?

Your Getting You Started Guide explains what is required of the role so please read it carefully.

As this is a non-clinical role, no specific training is required however, when you arrive at a vaccination site for the first time, the Site Leader will take you through a site introduction and briefing.

Will I come in direct contact with patients?

Yes – but only at a safe distance. One of the key jobs of our Steward Volunteers is to make sure people queuing up to receive their jabs are keeping to a safe social distance. This also includes you, so, where possible you should remain 2 metres away from patients, carers and other volunteers.

Will I be provided with uniform as a Steward Volunteer?

All registered Steward Volunteers will be sent a high-vis vest. You must bring them with you each time you volunteer. You will also be sent a branded poncho in due course. We are currently prioritising sending ponchos to Stewards who have already completed a shift, and will be sending out the remaining stock as it becomes available to us from our supplier over the coming weeks.

Is there an expected dress code for Volunteer Stewards?

Volunteers are provided with a Steward Volunteer high-vis vest and a branded poncho, this is collectively known as ‘the uniform.’

Volunteers are expected to dress in appropriate comfortable footwear & clothing, suitable for a predominantly outdoor role in a range of weather conditions:

  • Casual denim is acceptable (no rips/holes etc)
  • Volunteers are asked to avoid wearing the following; sports team shirts or clothing with slogans/logos or offensive language
  • As we move into warmer weather, it’s important to work safely and maintain a welcoming and professional image at our NHS vaccination sites. Please remember the following:
    • Always wear enclosed shoes onsite for your safety
    • Ripped jeans and crop tops should not be worn onsite; skirts and shorts should be a suitable length.

Where will I be able to store my personal belongings?

As sites do vary, we encourage you only to take the essentials you need for stewarding eg phone for ID, bottle of water.  Wherever possible please avoid taking anything unnecessary with you or if driving to site leave any other belongings safely in your car. You can ask the Site Lead if there is anywhere to store belongings but due to different types of vaccination sites this may not always be possible.

Do I have to wear PPE?       

The safety of volunteers is extremely important. The Site Lead will ensure volunteers have the correct equipment to keep them safe, including appropriate PPE.

When I am volunteering will I be safe from catching COVID-19?

Volunteer and patient safety is the NHS and Royal Voluntary Service’s top priority. There is no upper age limit for volunteering but being a Steward Volunteer is a frontline role and is not suitable for anyone who is in a medium or high-risk category.

The Site Lead will ensure volunteers have the correct equipment to keep them safe, including appropriate PPE. Social distancing will be in place throughout volunteer shifts so, whenever possible, you should stay at least 2 metres away from patients and other volunteers.

I have been told I have to do a lateral follow test and not sure how it works?

You may be required to do a lateral flow test when you arrive at site or before you attend. You can order lateral flow tests in line with government guidance by visiting gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests. This gives you guidance on how to carry out your lateral flow test and the recording of your result. If you are required to carry out a lateral flow test when you arrive at site, you will be supported through this process.

Has a vaccination site risk assessment been completed and can I have a copy?

Each vaccination site has been set up by NHS England and Improvement and a site risk assessment has been completed as part of that process. Steward Volunteers reporting to a vaccination site for the first time will be briefed by the Site Lead on health and safety and emergency site procedures as part of their site orientation. This will vary from site to site. If you want a copy of a site’s risk assessment, please discuss this with the Site Lead.

Why does the Steward Volunteer alert include a date and time?

Most NHS Volunteer Responder tasks can be completed within a range of 2 or 3 days. However, Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) shifts need to be carried out at a specific time to enable vaccination sites to plan their staffing appropriately. Therefore, the date and time that you are required to attend is included in the alert as well as any additional information that a referrer would like you to know. NHS Volunteer Responders who have signed up for these tasks can expect to receive at least 1 week’s notice so that they can also plan ahead.

Will I receive the COVID-19 vaccine before volunteering in the steward role?

As referred to in our email to Steward Volunteers on 4 March, you are entitled to receive a vaccine (regardless of your age) during a Steward Volunteering shift because you are in a patient-facing role. However this is dependent on vaccine supply at the site. You should ask at the site if there is availability – it’s not something you can pre-book or arrange ahead of your shift.

What webinars are available for me to join?

You can find a full list of webinars with details of the content and timings. 

I have registered for a webinar and not received my link to join?

You will receive a link 24 hours before the webinar. Please do check your spam and junk folder as it can sometimes go in there. If you have not received this then please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I am trying to log on to a webinar and cannot get in?

We are sorry that you are experiencing difficulty in accessing the session. Please refer to the attached guidance on your invitation email. Alternatively, please see our joining instructions which will help you to ensure that all settings are correct to access the webinar. Following the session you will get an email with the slides and information from the webinar.

Can I accept shifts directly from the vaccination site?

Shifts you arrange outside the GoodSAM app are not covered by NHS Volunteer Responders and we can only pay expenses for stewarding shifts you accept through the GoodSAM app. Volunteering outside of the app also stops other NHS Volunteer Responders from having a fair opportunity to support shifts. Please help us keep you supported and let us know if you attend a vaccination site as an NHS Volunteer Responder and are asked to sign up to the site’s own volunteering rotas. Please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

The site I have been volunteering at has asked me to do shifts locally outside of the app – is this OK?

It is your decision as to whether you wish to volunteer via a local arrangement. Please be aware that any steward shifts arranged outside of the GoodSAM app are not managed by Royal Voluntary Service, and we are unable to provide any follow-up support or assistance with these shifts or support with volunteer expenses.

Can I help with carrying out Lateral Flow Testing when I am volunteering at a vaccination site?

No, unfortunately this is not something we are able to support sites with. Our Steward Volunteers are not formally trained on this procedure and we are not contracted to provide this service. Please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 to let them know if this is something you have been asked to do when on site.  

Can I still receive Steward Volunteer tasks when I’m currently undertaking a task for a different role?

Yes. The Tasks tab will still be available for Steward Volunteer shifts even if you are currently carrying out another task.

 

Print entire guide Page last reviewed: 04 November 2021
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