FAQs for NHS Volunteer Responders

Introduction

In this guide you will find answers to questions that you may have as an NHS Volunteer Responder.

Page last reviewed: 09 November 2020

Expenses

How do I claim my out of pocket expenses?

We have communicated via email how to claim your out of pocket expenses, including milage.

Information:

Please visit concure.co.uk/rvs

I have heard that there is a free car parking scheme available to NHS Volunteer Responders. How does this work?

The Car Parking scheme ends of 21st June.

 

 

Page last reviewed: 16 June 2021

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 goodsamapp.org/login 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 goodsamapp.org/login 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.

 

Page last reviewed: 09 July 2021

PPE, uniform and ID

I am worried about cross-contamination when using my phone to show ID, shall I make my own ID badge?

Please do not create your own ID. Present your ID on your phone, keeping at least 2 metres away from the person you are supporting. If the person you are supporting is unable to see the ID, place your phone near the individual (e.g. doorstep) and step back. Ask them not to touch your phone while they’re checking the ID. Once the person you are supporting has stepped back, retrieve your phone. You could also show your ID by holding your phone up to a closed window if this is possible.

I would like to create my own T-shirt/uniform is this ok?

Please do not create a uniform, this is a non-uniform support programme.

This is to ensure there is clarity for those we are supporting about how to ID check their volunteer and to prevent the risk of people who are not volunteers creating replica uniforms that could potentially be used for negative purposes.

It is therefore vital that our NHS Volunteer Responders do not create their own uniforms and instead use their profile as identification within the GoodSAM app.  

As a Patient Transport Volunteer should I wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?

You should not support someone in this role until you have been provided with the relevant PPE. Please ensure you discuss this when making your initial call to the health service provider. We advise you to follow all guidance given in your Getting You Started Guide.  

Do I need to buy my own personal protective equipment (PPE)?

If you are a Patient Transport Volunteer you will require PPE to safely carry out your role. You can claim back your PPE expense through the expense system.

I am NOT a Patient Transport Volunteer, do I need to wear a face covering?

All volunteers are expected to follow the government and public health guidelines for wearing face coverings and further details can be found at: 

Information:

gov.uk

If you feel you meet one of the exemptions outlined in this guidance then you can use the mobile download or print off one of the badges from the site which you can use when you are supporting the scheme.   

Will I need PPE for Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations) tasks?

Any PPE required will be provided by the referrer when you undertake the task. For volunteers who are supporting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, PPE will be provided when you arrive on site. Please bring a face covering with you for your shift.

 

Page last reviewed: 10 June 2021

Support in action

How far am I reasonably expected to travel in order to fulfil a request?

Most of the travel requests will be very local, less than 5 miles. In more rural areas this will increase to a maximum of 20 miles.

Can I provide support after 7:30pm?

Alerts will be sent to people during the daytime, but this does not mean they need to actioned at that time (unless it’s a patient transport or NHS transport request). You can carry out your task at a time that is mutually convenient, but would need to accept the request before 7:30pm.

I’m encountering a ‘screening guardian’ when I call people, how should I identify myself?

We recommend giving your full name followed by ‘NHS Volunteer Responder’. If you still cannot make contact, please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I accepted an alert and went to support but another volunteer has turned up too?

An isolating person may have been referred for a variety of support. Make sure you check what support is required at the top of the message/alert/notification you receive. Please do not turn up at someone’s property without speaking to them on the phone first.

How will the person I’m supporting know that I’m a legitimate NHS Volunteer Responder?

You will be asked to show your profile page on the GoodSAM app, please make sure you have your phone on you and that you have uploaded a photo. Do not hand your phone to the isolating person.

I went straight to the location but the person was not expecting me, what should I do?

You should NEVER carry out a task without calling the number you have been provided with first. Please refer to your Getting You Started Guide for further information as there are certain conversations that you need to have with the person prior to undertaking a task. 

What should I do if an isolating person asks me to continue supporting them?

Tell them that you cannot offer this as an NHS Volunteer Responder. Please do not pass your contact details to anyone you are supporting, nor maintain an ongoing relationship with them. The programme has been designed so that people get a different volunteer each time. This is part of our safeguarding for the programme and is to protect you and the person you are supporting. Healthcare professionals refer people into the programme on the understanding that these safeguards are in place and upheld. Failure to do so risks undermining their confidence in making future referrals.

The person I’m supporting has asked for my phone number, should I give it out in case they need some additional support?

Please tell them that you cannot give them your personal phone number. You do not know the level of vulnerability the person is facing and taking the support outside the NHS Volunteer Responder programme potentially puts you and the person you are supporting at risk of harm. If you are concerned about the person you can call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

An isolating person has asked if we offer assistance with pet walking or if I can go for a walk with them?

Unfortunately we are not able to support these tasks as these activities are not available through the NHS Volunteer Responders programme.

An isolating person has tried to give me a gift of money for time, what should I do?

You can always suggest that they make a donation to a charity of their choice, including the Royal Voluntary Service COVID-19 Emergency Appeal.

The person I’m supporting has asked for additional support, how do I check if they have this logged in the system?

If someone you are supporting asks for additional support, call the Support Team 0808 196 3382 to ask if there is another or a reoccurring referral for them on the system. If not, the Support Team will be able to place another referral for the individual. 

The isolating person I have called would prefer to be contacted by a volunteer of a specific gender. Is this possible?

Unfortunately not. Due to the way the alerts are generated we are not able to allocate specific volunteers to people. You can explain that you can choose to ‘Pass to another volunteer’ if they do not wish to receive support from you. If they are not happy with this please call the Support Team 0808 196 3382 and we can call to advise them that we are not able to facilitate such requests.

If shops/supermarkets are not able to take payment over the phone, how will we pay for shopping?

There are lots of payment options available, these can be found in your Getting You Started Guide.  

I’m a Community Response Volunteer, will bags be provided for shopping?

Unfortunately we are not able to send bags to volunteers. We would advise using your own bags, due to infection control. Unpack the items onto the door step for the isolated person to retrieve. Please remember social distancing guidance.

The alert states information regarding the frequency of the referral, what does this mean?

A referrer will place a referral based on the support needs of the patient. For example, a patient may need volunteer support as a one-off or daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly. This is just to provide you with additional information when speaking with a patient and not a request for you to carry out the task daily/weekly/fortnightly/monthly. When speaking to the patient you may want to explain the support that’s been set up for them in order to ensure they are aware of the frequency they will hear from a volunteer. If a patient mentions that they do not need the support that often or they would like more frequent support, please advise them to call the Support Team on 0808 196 3646 or you can offer to do this on their behalf.

A patient has advised that they are receiving too many phone calls from volunteers, what should I advise?

Firstly, check the frequency of the referral that has been placed. The referrer would have assigned volunteer support as one-off, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly and it may be that the patient does not feel this is required and would like to amend the frequency they are receiving volunteer support. If the patient would like to amend this, you can advise them to call the Support Team on 0808 196 3646 or you can offer to do this on their behalf. If the frequency set-up is correct e.g. weekly but the patient is receiving daily phone calls, please contact the Support Team who will investigate the referral.

How will I know what type of support a referrer requires as part of the ‘NHS Non-Clinical support’?

Referrers have been advised that they must include the type of support within the additional information section e.g. Stewarding at a Flu Clinic.  If you have not received clear information within your alert you can call the referrer on the number provided to gain clarification or pass to another volunteer. 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 accessed under the NHS Non-Clinical support?

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 ‘NHS clinical support’ 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’.

The person I’ve called doesn’t want help, what should I do?

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’ve completed a Check In and Chat task and the person didn’t need any additional support. Which option should I select in the app?

You have completed the task and provided support, which is simply to check in and have a chat.  Please select, 'Contacted - Help provided'.

Can I request a one-off task for a client in addition to their existing regular support?

Yes, if the client informs you that they need one-off support between their regular help, you can call the Support Team on their behalf on 0808 196 3382 and we can arrange for a one-off referral to be added.

Page last reviewed: 09 July 2021

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.

 

Page last reviewed: 04 November 2021

Concerns whilst volunteering

Please call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 if you have any concerns.

Can I be tested for coronavirus?

Yes. If you, or someone you live with, has symptoms of coronavirus you are now eligible for coronavirus testing. If your test is positive do not return to volunteering duty until you have self-isolated in line with NHS guidance.

Information:

You can apply for a test on the gov.uk website

I believe the person I am supporting has a mental health condition, what should I do?

There is further information on how to support a person who is living with a mental health condition. If you have concerns about someone you are supporting, or feel that it’s no longer appropriate for you to support them please call the Support Team and let them know on 0808 196 3382.

I have been unable to make contact with an individual, what should I do?

If you attempt to make contact 3 times and are unable to reach the client then press ‘CLIENT DID NOT ANSWER’.The system will recognise if multiple volunteers have selected this button for a task and it will automatically disable the alert to prevent it from circulating to further volunteers and the task will automatically be raised to the Safeguarding Team for investigation.

The person does not know why I’m calling, what should I say?

When a referral is submitted, we ask for the referrer to confirm that the person they’re referring is aware of this. However, there may be circumstances where this has not happened or there is confusion about who is calling. Please explain that whilst your title is NHS Volunteer Responder, you may have been asked to offer support by a local authority or another organisation. Tell the person about the support you have been asked to provide, for example if you have a Community Response alert, explain you can support with shopping or prescriptions etc. If they are still confused or unsure, please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 and we can speak to their referrer.

I am a Community Response Plus Volunteer and have called an isolating person, they seem confused and do not want support?

Please call the Support Team on 0808 196 3382 so we can get in touch with the referrer. Please do not pass your contact details on to the isolating person.

The person I have contacted does not speak English, what do I do?

If you are unable to communicate with the person you have called, you could try to ask if they have a family member/friend you can contact instead. If this is not possible, please contact the Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

Will I receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Volunteers in patient-facing roles will be vaccinated with other health and social care staff. This is a large group of people and those most are risk will be vaccinated first. We will share further details on the process and timeframes as soon as we have more information.

 

Page last reviewed: 08 March 2021

GoodSAM app troubleshooting

My app keeps freezing?

Check you are using a phone that is compatible with the GoodSAM app either an iPhone 5 upwards or a Google compatible smartphone that allows you to download the app from the Play store.

I am having trouble receiving or accessing alerts?

  • Check you are using a phone that is compatible with the app either an iPhone 5 upwards or a Google compatible smartphone that allows you to download the app from the Play store.
  • Check that you have enabled settings to receive alerts and notifications by going to phone settings > apps > permissions and ensuring location is switched ON and that the notifications toggle is ON.
  • Check that battery saving mode is not set on your phone as this restricts location access and automatically turns it off, so the app would not be able to see your location.

Should I use the communication function on the app? I have received a message on the app from another volunteer, what does this mean?

There is a function within the app which allows you to communicate with other nearby NHS Volunteer Responders. We advise you not to use this function in the GoodSAM app. To switch this function off, please go to the settings tab and turn the “Receive Buzz” setting to ‘Off’. This field is not monitored and could potentially risk a breach of data protection guidelines.

I get a notification but then it is not allowing me to come off the accept/reject screen?

Make sure your phone is compatible with the GoodSAM app. If it’s an Apple phone, the app is only compatible for an iPhone 5 and above. For Android, the app works with anything that Google supports, therefore if you do not have the functionality of Google Play, the app will not be able to operate on this phone. Secondly, check notifications settings by going into 'Settings' on your phone, make sure these are turned on. Then go into the GoodSAM app itself and set the notifications to ON. You could also try to re-install the app.

I was approved to volunteer but when I went into the GoodSAM app it asked for ID again, I updated this and now it is saying ‘waiting for approval’?

Rather than signing into the app it sounds like you have tried to register again which is not required. You need to click on the link that was sent to you by email when you received confirmation that your ID had been checked. Then sign in with your email address and the password you entered when you registered.

yes  no

I cannot log into the GoodSAM app as the email and password boxes are blocked by other boxes?

This sounds like there is a compatibility issue with your phone, this tends to occur on iPhones that are older than the iPhone 5 version. Please make sure you are using an iPhone 5 or above. If using an Android, check this is compatible with Google and that you have installed the app using Google play store. 

I received an alert but when I clicked on it, nothing further came up and there is nothing in the comms section. I can see the person on the map but there is no information?

Firstly, if this happens please 'Pass to another Volunteer'. Check that your location and notifications are turned to ‘ON’, both on your phone settings and within the GoodSAM app and wait for another alert.

It keeps saying my email is 'invalid as has spaces in it', but I have entered it correctly?

Sometimes when entering the email address it can place a space when you enter (.) This happens automatically, so when you enter your email address just ensure that it has not entered a space after the (.) or at the start and end of your email address. It is better to try and enter the email address manually, instead of using autofill or copy and paste which can sometimes put a space that is not required into your email.

I have tried to upload an image on my profile page but the image will not save?

Please go into your Settings > apps > responder app, then check permissions and ensure that your camera toggle and storage toggle is set to 'ON'. Also ensure that your phone is not in battery saving mode as even when these settings are on it can restrict permissions and notifications.

I have been on duty, so why have my on-duty hours not updated?

The GoodSAM app updates every time it receives a location update from your phone. If the app does not receive an update from your phone due to your settings or lack of wifi/data it will not update your on-duty hours. The number of on-duty hours is not used for any purpose and has no bearing on you receiving alerts.

My alerts are coming through silent, can I change this?

Yes, you can do this within your phone settings.  Please go into your phone settings, select notifications then ‘Responder’ and toggle to allow critical alerts.  This will ensure your alerts will come through even when your phone is on silent. Watch our video below.

Information:

If you would like to see how to do this please watch this short video.

I’m registered as a NHS Volunteer Responder but cannot remember my password. How do I reset this?

You can reset your password by visiting goodsamapp.org/login

I’m not receiving tasks, is my phone set up correctly?

It may be that there are not any live requests for support in your area.  Please stay on-duty when you can as new referrals come in each day. However there are 2 key settings you must enable in order to receive tasks.  Please watch this short video and follow the instruction. 

Watch Getting started

Page last reviewed: 10 June 2021

General queries

I would like to change my name, email address or home address?

Please contact our Support Team on 0808 196 3382.

I want to unsubscribe from email communications?

Our emails contain essential information relevant to the NHS Volunteer Responder role, therefore we do not regard them as promotional or marketing emails and this is why we do not offer an unsubscribe option. If you wish to stop receiving emails from us, we will of course, stop sending them to you but, unfortunately, this would mean that you will be unable to continue with your role as an NHS Volunteer Responder and will need to stop volunteering. If you wish to be unsubscribed from the emails, please email dataprotection@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk with your name and a confirmation that you no longer wish to be an NHS Volunteer Responder and that you wish for your data to be removed.

Where can I find out more information about my role and the questions I have?

We have a section specifically for our NHS Volunteer Responders, this has frequently asked questions, app guidance and Getting You Started Guides in the pages for each of the different volunteer roles. Alternatively, you can join one of our volunteer webinars and speak to a member of the team.

Do I need to change my car insurance to be able to drive as a volunteer?

If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by coronavirus, we advise you contact your car insurers to let them know you are driving for voluntary purposes.

Can I volunteer using my bike?

Yes, this is fine as long as you are able to transport goods safely.

I am under 18, can I volunteer?

NHS Volunteer Responders must be over 18 years old. If you are under 18 and interested in volunteering, you may be able to get involved in home-based volunteering opportunities through your local hospital, school, college or youth groups. You may need a parent or carer’s permission for some local volunteering.

Information:

For more information, visit gov.uk.

I live in Wales or Scotland and want to support?

This is only an initiative for NHS England. Please contact local support groups in your area to see if you are able to get involved.

We both want to help and live in the same house, is this allowed?

As long as you are fit and healthy and have no symptoms, in line with the NHS and public health guidelines, then you can both be NHS Volunteer Responders. If either of you do get symptoms then you must follow the self-isolation guidelines to prevent any risk to yourself
or others.

I do not want to be an NHS Volunteer Responder anymore, how do I remove my details?

Thank you for supporting the NHS Volunteer programme. We want to let you know that if you decide to stop being a volunteer and cancel volunteering we can remove your details from the system. This will mean you will no longer be able to receive alerts and will end volunteering on behalf of the programme. Please email dataprotection@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk with your name and a confirmation that you no longer wish to be an NHS Volunteer Responder and request that your data be removed.

What is the Steward Volunteer (COVID-19 vaccinations)?

It is flexible support for your local NHS services and the national COVID-19 vaccination programme. The requests you receive for this role may vary each time. They can range from stewarding at a vaccination site to helping direct people through a hospital site. The task alert should state specifically what you are being requested to support.

Will I need to undertake any additional training before supporting as a steward at a COVID-19 vaccination site?

You will be asked to participate in a site induction when you arrive at the vaccination site. This will be provided by the NHS organisation running the centre.

My local hospital/GP practice/pharmacy is also recruiting for COVID-19 vaccination stewards. Where should I sign up?

In addition to the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, some volunteer recruitment for the COVID-19 vaccination clinics is being managed by local NHS organisations. As long as you can commit to doing at least 2 x 6-hour shifts per month for the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, this should not stop you also volunteering locally if you choose to do so. The reason why this volunteer recruitment is being carried out both nationally and locally is because the NHS will be holding vaccination clinics in many different settings, each of which will require volunteer support. These include GP practices, community pharmacies, care homes and some large sites such as sports venues. 

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.

 

Page last reviewed: 10 June 2021