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Guidelines for volunteer management during COVID-19 Pandemic

Note: This advisory supersedes the earlier Guidelines for Volunteer Management during COVID-19 Pandemic, dated 19 June 2020.

  1. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that Phase Three will commence on 28 December 2020, as we have made good progress on the key enablers supporting further resumption of activities1. In this next phase, we must continue to remain vigilant in the coming months and avoid an uncontrolled resurgence of cases which could slow of reverse our progress.
  2. This advisory provides guidance to individuals and organisations on their volunteering activities in Phase Three.

    Approach for Phase Three

  3. Volunteers continue to play a key role in the fight against COVID-19. Their activities include promoting social responsibility, supporting essential services and caring for the vulnerable segments.
  4. In Phase Three, Volunteer Host Organisations (VHOs)2 can continue to enlist volunteers to support essential aid distribution (i.e. supplies necessary for daily sustenance e.g. cooked food and food rations, and urgent financial aid).
  5. Essential aid distribution activities should adhere strictly to prevailing safe management measures. VHOs planning such activities should submit the following information to NCSS via this link www.go.gov.sg/distributioncontact at least 3 working days before the start of the planned activities3.

    a. Name of VHO
    b. Person-in-charge and contact details 
    c. List of staff and volunteers 
    d. Number of beneficiaries served
    e. Type of essential aid (e.g. cooked meals, personal care products, vouchers) 
    f. Modality and frequency of essential aid distribution
    g. Number of staff/ volunteers needed to distribute essential aid
  6. Apart from essential aid distribution, VHOs can also respond to other community needs so long as these activities adhere to safe management measures and guidelines for the specific sector4.
  7. VHOs can conduct volunteer activities involving groups of up to eight persons with no inter-mingling between groups, and in accordance with safe management measures5. This is similar to the approach for social gatherings. Outreach and engagement should be done remotely, where possible. VHOs are strongly encouraged to tap on virtual volunteering roles to continue providing services. See Table 1 for a summary of the approach for volunteering activities.  

    Table 1: Summary of the approach for volunteering activities  

    Volunteering Activities

    Approach

    a. Volunteering activities supporting essential aid distribution

    Inform NCSS via this link www.go.gov.sg/distributioncontact, and adhere to safe management measures

    b. Volunteering activities to support other community needs

    Refer to sector guidelines by relevant authorities (e.g. MSF’s MSF Enhanced Precautionary Measures for Residential and Community Facilities) and adhere to safe management measures.



    Assess risk and apply safe management measures
  8. VHOs must conduct volunteer activity risk assessment to assess the format for the activity and deployment of volunteers (See Annex A for an illustration).
  9. Where possible, VHOs are strongly encouraged to carry out their volunteering activities remotely or in virtual format, e.g. via telephone and video-conference. VHOs should also collaborate and coordinate with partners to minimise duplicative efforts, and reduce the movement of staff and volunteers and physical interactions.
  10. Should face-to-face interactions be necessary for volunteering activities, VHOs must ensure compliance with safe management measures. These measures include: 

    a. As a default, measures should be put in place to ensure that individuals maintain safe distancing of at least one metre at all times; 

    b. Where not feasible or practical to apply one metre safe distancing between individuals, this one metre requirement should be enforced between groups, with each group made up of not more than eight persons, and with no mixing between groups.

    c. Ensure no cross deployment or social mixing among different groups of volunteers and schedule their volunteer activities, if possible, in fixed teams, to minimise interactions between volunteers and staff. 

    d. Ensure staff and volunteers wear a mask at all times. Staff and volunteers should not participate if unwell.

    e. Encourage staff and volunteers to observe good personal hygiene, e.g. wash their hands regularly and refrain from touching their face. 

    f. Avoid involving children, persons with chronic or underlying conditions, and pregnant women as volunteers. However, these individuals can take on virtual volunteer roles that allow them to operate from home. 

    g. Limit the number and physical movement of staff and volunteers involved to minimise the risk of transmission. Implement staggered working and break hours and timings of volunteering sessions to reduce possible congregation at common spaces. Keep a register and track movement using a movement log, in order to facilitate contact tracing, if necessary.

    h. Reduce frequency and duration of physical interactions with beneficiaries, e.g. consolidate essential aid to be delivered to reduce the number of physical trips and avoid physical interactions by leaving supplies at the door. If there is a need to check on the beneficiaries, volunteers to maintain at least 1m safe distance. For beneficiaries who are seniors, deliver essential aid to their doorstep as far as possible, so that they do not have to venture out to do collection. 

    i. Where it is not feasible to arrange for delivery, designated collection points can also be set up in the vicinity for beneficiaries to collect the essential aid with the necessary precautionary measures to ensure safe management. Buffet set-ups are strictly prohibited. Volunteers must not congregate and should minimise physical interaction with beneficiaries. 

    j. Enable contact tracing to be carried out quickly and effectively by using the SafeEntry or TraceTogether-only SafeEntry system to log the check-in and check-out of staff and volunteers from premises. This is a free-for-use service. Visit https://www.safeentry.gov.sg to sign up for SafeEntry NRIC or SafeEntry QR or https://www.tracetogether.gov.sg for TraceTogether-only SafeEntry, and to refer to the user guidelines and FAQs. Upon registration, an onboarding guide with links to all the key resources, digital posters, step-by-step user guides and demo videos will be provided.

    k. Require staff and volunteers to download and activate the TraceTogether app. This will help MOH to more quickly identify potential close contacts of COVID-19 patients and reduce disease transmission. Data recorded by TraceTogether is stored on the user’s phone, and is only uploaded when required by MOH, e.g. when the user is suspected to have COVID-19. More information on TraceTogether can be found at https://www.tracetogether.gov.sg.

    Ensure safety and well-being of volunteers
  11. VHOs must continue to ensure the safety and well-being of their volunteers. The volunteers should be informed about the risks, and the measures taken by the VHO to protect them. This can include a briefing on the volunteer activity and precautionary measures, and shall be conducted remotely online, where possible. VHOs are to provide a contact number for volunteers to call in case of emergency or if they feel distressed. VHOs shall also actively seek feedback from volunteers and help to address their concerns, if any.
  12. Even with safe management measures and gradual resumption of activities, there is a risk that COVID-19 transmission may happen. VHOs must be prepared to help volunteers who have contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty. This can include helping them to apply for relief under The Courage Fund6, and to extend support for their families during this period of time. VHOs should also provide emotional support to any volunteer who needs it, and can tap on the National Care hotline.
  13. VHOs should also find ways to show their appreciation for their volunteers’ efforts, which can include sharing positive stories through the SG Cares App, providing words of encouragement, and tokens of appreciation.

    Sustain engagement of supporters and volunteers
  14. VHOs are strongly encouraged to continue to communicate and engage their supporters and volunteers during this period even if they are not deployed. This will allow VHOs to activate volunteer resources quickly in subsequent phases when the situation improves. Activities by VHOs can include doing the following remotely: 

    a. Keep supporters informed of the current happenings and initiatives; 
    b. Share stories to motivate volunteers to step up; 
    c. Encourage creative and safe ways to volunteer, both remotely and on-site; 
    d. Build online communities and social networks; and
    e. Leverage online volunteer opportunities portals, communication tools and learning resources (See Annex B for a list of resources). 

    Moving towards Phase Three (Safe Nation)

  15. These measures will be revised in tandem with future adjustments in MOH’s guidelines. Depending on the risk assessment and our safe management practices, we expect to progressively allow more volunteering activities as we move into later stages of Phase Three of re-opening. However, we need to remain cautious and stay safe as long as the risk of COVID transmission remains.
  16. MCCY will issue further advisories to guide VHOs on the management and deployment of volunteers in the subsequent phases.

    Working together to emerge stronger

  17. The community and volunteers shape a caring and united Singapore. With everyone playing their part and supporting each other, we can overcome this pandemic and emerge stronger.

    For enquiries

  18. For clarifications or enquiries, VHOs can write in to SGCares@mccy.gov.sg.

Issued by:
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

 

1 Refer to https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/moving-into-phase-three-of-re-opening.

2 VHOs refer to organisations that involve volunteers in their activities such as Social Service Agencies (SSAs), ground up groups, religious organisations and other community groups. They can also refer to companies organising volunteering activities involving their employees.

3 Refer to MSF Advisory on Essential Aid Distribution Against COVID-19 (22 Dec 2020)

4 For sector specific guidelines, refer to http://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/safemanagement/sector/ 

5 Should there be a need to conduct home visits, limit visits to not more than eight persons at any one time, in accordance with MOH’s guidelines on household visits from 28 Dec 2020. During the home visits, maintain at least 1m distance from the beneficiary and limit each visit to ≤1 hour. Staff/volunteers should don surgical mask and practise hand hygiene before/ after each home visit. During the home visit, residents and family members should also wear a mask as far as possible.

6 The Courage Fund provides a relief of $3,000 to community volunteers (non-healthcare workers who stepped up to contribute to the overall effort to fight COVID-19 and are not financially compensated for their efforts) who have contracted COVID-19 while providing services.

 

Last updated on 13 January 2021