How to help safely

You can leave the house to help someone, for example to take them food and medicine.

If you are doing this, you must:

  • stay outside their home if you do not live with them, especially if they are at a higher risk from coronavirus or have symptoms
  • limit the time you spend outside your home for example by picking up their food or medicine with yours
  • stay 2 metres (6 ft) away if you do not live with them
  • not share a car with them
  • regularly wash your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds

If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.

It is also recommended that face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops.

For further advice read the latest government advice on staying safe outside your home.

If you or someone in your household starts to show symptoms, or if you are at high risk of severe symptoms yourself, then you must stay at home. If you still want to help, you can donate to the National Emergency Trust.

By following this guidance, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

Who can help?

You must fulfil ALL of the conditions below to provide support to people who are in isolation: 

  • You are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
  • You are under 70
  • You are not pregnant
  • You do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus.

Who can I help?

You can help households who are isolating, including friends and family members as well as your neighbours. Always remember, you should only provide support in person where it is essential for the health or care of a vulnerable person.

What can I do to help those who are in isolation?

  • Food shopping – You can pick up essentials for others when picking up your own shopping and leave the groceries on the person’s doorstep. Alternatively, you can help those who aren’t familiar with online shopping by placing an order for them or guiding them over the phone.
  • Collecting medication – You can pick up medicine on behalf of someone, remember to keep a safe distance leaving the items on the doorstep and ensure they have collected the medication before leaving.
  • Keep in contact – Staying isolated can impact a person’s wellbeing, by staying in touch over the phone or social media can help.
  • Encourage staying mentally and physically active – Swap suggestions about how people you are supporting can keep themselves busy.
  • Share trusted sources of informationNHSPublic Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care

What should I do if I am worried about someone’s health?

Encourage anyone you are supporting to use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service. They should only call 111 if they can’t get online, their symptoms worsen or they have been instructed to. Call 999 if you believe someone’s life is at risk.

  • How to stay safe when accepting help from others
  • Do not share financial details including debit/credit card details
  • Always ask for ID and ensure you are comfortable sharing details
  • Do not feel pressured into providing information
  • If you are concerned, do not engage and report any suspicious behaviour to the police
  • Remember genuine volunteers have been instructed not to enter your home


Volunteering that requires going out of the house is now only permitted in certain circumstances. If you are well and not at risk you can undertake essential activities including:

NHS Volunteer Responders

NHS Volunteer Responders is a new group that will carry on simple non-medical tasks to support people in England who are in isolation. Tasks such as driving people to and from hospital, delivering food and medication and make regular calls to those isolating. NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace any local provision, it will provide service where informal support is not available.

You can register directly once registered and checks are complete you will be sent details of how to receive tasks direct to your device.

Clinically trained

If you are clinically trained and wish to return to the NHS please visit the NHS England website

For further guidance on staying safe please visihere

Stay safe if a volunteer is helping you

If a volunteer is helping you while you stay at home:

do not give them your credit or debit card numbers or other financial information

  • ask for ID if someone you do not know calls at your home
  • only share your phone number or address if you need to
  • only give your information on a need-to-know basis
  • do not let them pressure you into giving information

Remember that volunteers should not enter your home.

If you have serious concerns about the behaviour of someone who is helping you, report this to the police.

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