This document outlines best practice guidance for the Zone Coordinators Team at Nunhead Knocks, and safeguarding guidance for all other volunteers. We are here to offer support and advice.

Information for Matching Masters is here.

In this document we will cover:

  • Best Practice for Zone Coordinators

  • Safeguarding Guidance for Volunteers

  • Financial Safeguarding 

  • Volunteering and Managing Risk

  • Reporting Incidents

  • Information and data sharing

  • Useful links

Best Practice for Zone Coordinators

Please note - we do not work directly with children. A child is anyone under the age of 18. We do however work with parents or carers.

How to identify Vulnerable Persons 

Has needs for care and/or support whether they are known to the council or not

(whether they self define as vulnerable or not)

As a result of care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from abuse

Have a learning disability or learning difficulty (this is often a self definition)

Has (a) physical impairment(s) and/or mental health issues

Have addiction issues

Are frail/have underlying health problems

Are liable to become very unwell if their medication is stored incorrectly or stopped abruptly

When looking through the requests you will need to consider if the person is vulnerable. Can you handle this case for both volunteer and requester?

If the request is from or for a vulnerable person they need to be sent over to a Matching Specialist.

1. Contacting the requester

  • Introduce yourself from NunheadKnocks and verify their name and address. This clarifies that you are indeed a legitimate volunteer from Nunhead Knocks. 

  • As you listen to the request first hand you may decide that this person needs to speak further with a specialist. In this case please let them know that you will be handing their request over to a team who will be able to support them further. 

  • If you are unsure simply ask the question ‘would you self describe as vulnerable?’ 

2. We must see a form of Photo ID for this volunteer

Please ask the volunteer to show you their ID over any type of video call such as FaceTime or Zoom. We do not collect or hold any forms of ID. Examples can be:

  • Passport

  • Driving Licence 

  • Freedom Pass

When you have seen a form of ID from the volunteer you can follow the guidelines written out in the Zone Coordinator Process document.

Safeguarding Guidance for Volunteers

This is some basic guidance intended for people who have little or no experience of safeguarding – and /or working in a slightly different context. A lot is common sense.

This document is not focusing on how to prevent infection. For preventing infection we recommend you check out the guidance available on the NHS website

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is:

  Preventing harm from our own actions and behaviour

  Assessing and mitigating risks of harm that arise from the work or support we are providing

  Taking precautions to ensure volunteers and service requesters are safe

  Reporting or referring concerns we have about those we work with or support

Safeguarding is about safeguarding people from harm and abuse. Abuse can be caused by the volunteers visiting the people asking for support – and it can happen by the people asking for support. In normal circumstances we would also be vigilant with people we are supporting to identify whether they are at risk of harm within their own families or communities (see table for further information on how to spot possible signs of abuse within the households that may be visited).  In all cases, we need to be vigilant about spotting issues with the people we are speaking to but also in mitigating the possibility of harm or abuse to occur – whether from our own behaviours or actions or the services we are providing. We talk about this as mitigating or managing safeguarding risks.

All interactions between people carry risk. There aren’t many truly horrible people out there but there are many people who don’t know the best way to care for each other. We all have a relationship to abuse and we all have a responsibility to end it. Everyone should think through the potential for abuse of power and or the risks of their actions when working with others. See the later section about Risk Management for further information.

How will I recognise abuse?

If you are aware of the types and signs of abuse, you are more likely to be able to recognise abuse or harm and take the right action. Listed below are the types of abuse and the signs you’re most likely to spot whilst carrying out your role. As you’ll be exercising social distancing measures spotting the indicators of abuse will be more challenging.

Physical abuse

Even from a distance you may notice people holding themselves awkwardly e.g. ‘nursing their arms/s’ or looking slumped. This may indicate they have been harmed or may be because they have been indoors and inactive. You may witness someone flinching away from another person as if they have been hit before and are anticipating it again.   

Emotional and Psychological abuse

You may hear someone being shouted out as you approach the door or the person you see may talk about the other person in a disrespectful way.

Sexual abuse

When speaking with a person from a distance or by phone they may share information with you about their health e.g. a urine infection, which could indicate sexual abuse. When speaking with people on the phone to ask them directly: “Do you feel safe with the other people who live with you or visit to help you in your home?” and if they say no, follow this up with questions to which they can answer yes or not without giving information away to alleged perpetrators who might overhear. 

Neglect and acts of omission

You may be able to tell from a distance that the person who is being cared for has messy or dirty clothing or the wrong type of clothing for the season and they may tell you that they are out of medication which may indicate the person who is supporting them is neglecting them. They may have no choice about what is on the shopping list.

Financial and/ or material abuse

Uncovering or finding out about financial and/or material abuse is likely to be even more challenging now than it is in more ‘ordinary circumstances’. If speaking with people on the phone, ask them directly how they are managing with their money and whether they are having any problems. Keep an ear out for people being left without money or for their possessions being ‘borrowed’.

Discriminatory abuse

You may witness someone being talked down to or insulted or treated badly in relation to their age, race, religion, ethnicity or sexuality. If you have an opportunity to speak with people on the phone you can ask them directly if they are being treated fairly.

Organisational abuse (by an organisation)

Usually this type of abuse would be indicated by a lack of flexibility and choice for people using the service and poor standards of care. However, in these unprecedented times it will be difficult to spot if this type of abuse is happening as many of these indicators could be covid-19 related.

Domestic abuse

We anticipate a rise during this period and its detection will be even more challenging than usual. Indicators: the person they are with has their arm around them in a way which doesn’t suggest support or comfortable intimacy; when you call the person they are never available and always ‘sleeping’; you hear a person being shouted at or talked down to.

Modern Slavery

You may see lots of people coming and going; the person you’re supporting appears frightened or hesitant to talk with you e.g. constantly looking over their shoulder; they tell you they are moving and won’t be there the next week and don’t know where they are going or how they’ll get there (indicator of risk of internal trafficking.) 

What abuse or welfare issues might I come across while I am volunteering during this Covid-19 pandemic? 

For adults we think we will see an increase in financial abuse, neglect and domestic abuse including sexual violence and a risk of hate crime (if resources such as food are insufficient to meet need). Survivors of domestic abuse who were planning to leave an abusive situation are now facing living in close quarters with their abusers for an unknown period. Resources are available here, here and here.

For children we think we will see an increase across the four types of abuse. Parents who continue to go out to work may have difficulties getting child-minders, babysitters and leave their children at home alone, exposing them to additional risks. Resources are available here.

Nunhead Knocks do not deal directly with children but we do deal with the impact on children, so be prepared.

What do you need me to do if I think someone might be being abused or at risk of abuse or is behaving inappropriately?

  • Follow the guidance in this document

  • Be alert 

  • Ask open questions (not yes/no answers) when you get safe opportunities to do so, acknowledging that with social distancing, there will be limited opportunities for conversations

  • Take abuse and the risk of it seriously and act if you are concerned

Please avoid:   

  • making assumptions or jumping to conclusions; 

  • investigating or asking leading questions; or  

  • keeping your concerns to yourself or taking it on as your sole responsibility

  • mapping your lifestyle and social conditioning onto someone else                                                                                                              

Financial Safeguarding

NunheadKnocks has taken these measures to put this particular safeguarding in place and have given all volunteers these guidelines when asking/ dealing with payment, due to the particular opportunities for financial abuse at this time: 

Please be careful about taking money, particularly as many people may be more vulnerable to fraud. Although some people may be willing to transfer you the money in advance, it may be better/more convenient to arrange for payment on delivery/shortly afterwards.

Click and collect

If the individual is able to order food online, but can’t get it delivered, this may be the best option as they will take care of payment. Otherwise, you should discuss with them (before you do their shopping) how they can pay.

Any contactless payment (such as PayPal)

This is what we recommend as no payment details are exchanged. However, it is unlikely that many older adults will use either PayPal or online banking so you will need to consider other options

Friend/ neighbour or relative

If the requester does not have a way to pay via contactless means please ask if a relative/friend or neighbour can help out

Gift and volunteer cards

New shopping schemes are popping up such as the ASDA gift card and Sainsburys volunteer card. The volunteer shops using the card, makes the payment using a barcode in store, and leaves the shopping in a safe place. For more information follow this link.

The M&S gift card link can be found here.


We do not accept cash unless it is an extreme case. There are extreme cases where the requester does not have online banking and only cash in the home. If this is the case, you may use a jam jar which can be placed on the doorstep. The money can be dropped inside the jar for you to take away. Please do not open or touch the cash for 72 hours. 

We DO NOT offer to take somebody’s debit or credit card to the shops as a means of payment or offer to take cash out of the bank for someone. 

Volunteering and Managing Risk

It is not a requirement for volunteers to fill in risk assessments. The following information is for individuals to have guidance on managing risk with an example of a risk assessment.  

Focusing on risk and volunteering does not imply that volunteers pose high levels of risk or are particularly risk- prone. Risk is a vital part of the voluntary and community sector and volunteer-involving organisations are natural risk takers. It is largely through taking risks that the sector has been a powerful force for change. Risk is also an essential aspect of the sports, adventure, play and recreation sectors, providing challenging and stimulating experiences that contribute to personal growth, health and fitness.

How do you define risk in this context?

  • Risk is a neutral term, with positives and negatives 

  • The benefits and opportunities of taking risks should be weighed against the drawbacks

  • Volunteers are not inherently high risk but their numbers, roles and voluntary status make risk a necessary consideration

  • Volunteer risks include injuries and abuse, inappropriate behaviour and substandard performance, loss, damage and theft

  •  Organisations may be liable in the courts for negligence, vicarious liability and the employment rights of volunteers.

Risk assessment template


Likelihood – low, medium, high

Impact – low, medium, high

Can this level of risk be tolerated? Yes/no


Short-term and episodic volunteers and risk

This type of volunteering involves joining for a particular project, in this case a pandemic. It is more usually something such as a summer scheme for young people or a skill based opportunity. 

  • Buddy the recruit with an experienced screened volunteer, organise volunteer teams, or step up supervision and reporting in

  • Try to offer roles which involve less risk but still enable a sense of accomplishment and provide useful experience

  •  If the roles require DBS checks try to develop initial low risk roles with the incentive of progressing to more challenging work in future

  • Be conscious of safeguarding information, money or other valuables

Reporting Incidents 

It is essential that any incident, accident or near misses gets reported. To access the incident report form please follow this link.

All incidents come through to a main database which will be flagged up internally. If someone is unable to fill out the incident report form online we are able to provide a printable version 

What is classed as an incident?

  • Injuries 

  • Distressing phone call

  • Receiving verbal abuse or threats

  • Detected scams

  • Data breaches

  • Sexualised language/harassment 

Information and Data Sharing

Essentially, you need to make sure that only the right people see personal information. All main documents / databases are to be password protected and only those that need to see the information have been given access. 

Any sharing of details should be hyper local - do not recommend anyone share their details with anyone beyond this. Information should only be shared with volunteers that they need to carry out the task; and to the requester that they need to feel informed.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, that’s the people in charge of looking out for data management, have said that street level groups will not be investigated, so sharing data is alright as long as we are careful and vigilant. 

For more information on data protection, here is the link to NunheadKnocks privacy policy. 

For more information in Safeguarding Adults in the COVID-19 Crisis please take a look at this link.

For more information on the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the COVID-19 Crisis please take a look at this link.

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