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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 1 June 2020.

  1. The Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced that Phase Two will commence on 19 Jun 2020, as community infection rates have remained generally stable in Phase One. In this next phase, our goal is to ensure that efforts taken during the Circuit Breaker period and Phase One of reopening are sustained. By limiting close contact among individuals, while maintaining hygiene and safe management principles, the intent is to resume more activities without substantially raising the risk of new clusters of infections1.
  2. This advisory provides guidance to individuals and organisations on their volunteering activities in Phase Two.

    Approach for Phase Two

  3. The community and 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. During Phase One, volunteers can be enlisted by Volunteer Host Organisations (VHOs)2 to support essential aid distribution (i.e. supplies necessary for daily sustenance e.g. cooked food and food rations, and urgent financial aid) with approval from the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), and other volunteering activities that support permitted services with adherence to guidelines by relevant authorities. These activities can continue in Phase Two.
  5. For new activities involving essential aid distribution, VHOs should plan the modality to adhere with strict safe management measures and submit to NCSS the following information via this link www.go.gov.sg/distributioncontact at least 3 working days before VHOs commence 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. In addition, Phase Two will see the resumption of most activities. VHOs can conduct volunteering activities if they fall within the list of businesses/services that are allowed to operate by MTI. The list can be found on MTI’s website (https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/permittedlist). VHOs are required to adhere to safe management measures and guidelines for the specific sector4.
  7. For self-organised and ground up efforts, VHOs can conduct volunteer activities, involving groups of up to any five persons, with no inter-mingling across groups, and with safe management measures. VHOs should also collaborate and coordinate with partners to minimise duplicative efforts, and reduce the movement of staff and volunteers and physical interactions. General outreach and door-to-door visitation, other than essential aid distribution permitted by NCSS, are not allowed.
  8. Notwithstanding the above, VHOs are strongly encouraged to carry out their volunteering activities remotely or in virtual format wherever possible, e.g. via telephone and video-conference. This is still the best way to keep our volunteers and beneficiaries safe. 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 businesses/ services that are allowed to operate by MTI in Phase Two

    Refer to sector guidelines by relevant authorities (e.g. MSF advisory under footnote 3) and adhere to safe management measures

     

    b. Volunteering activities supporting essential aid distribution

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

    c. Volunteering activities through self-organised and ground up efforts

    Conduct volunteer activities, involving groups of up to any five persons, with no inter-mingling across groups, and adhere to safe management measures



    Assess risk and apply safe management measures
  9. VHOs must conduct volunteer activity risk assessment to assess the format and deployment of volunteers (See Annex A for a Volunteer Activity Risk Assessment Matrix).
  10. If remote means cannot be deployed for volunteering activities, and face-to-face interactions are necessary, VHOs must ensure compliance with safe management measures, and have minimal staff and volunteer strength onsite to minimise the risk of transmission. 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 it is 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 five persons, and with no mixing between groups.

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

    d. Limit the number and physical movement of staff and volunteers involved. Implement staggered working and break hours 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.

    e. 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. 

    f. 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.

    g. Enable contact tracing to be carried out quickly and effectively by using the 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 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 

    h. 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 www.tracetogether.gov.sg.

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

    j. 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. 

    k. Deliver essential aid to seniors to their doorstep as far as possible, so that they do not have to venture out to do collection

    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 Fund5, 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 appreciate volunteers for their support, 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 the VHO 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). 

    Later stages of Phase Two (Safe Transition) and 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 Two and Phase Three. 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-two-of-re-opening.

2 VHOs include organisations that involve volunteers in their activities such as Social Service Agencies (SSAs), ground up groups, religious organisations and other community groups.

3 Refer to MSF Advisory on Essential Aid Distribution Against COVID-19 (17 Jun 2020)

4 Refer to MSF Enhanced Precautionary Measures for Residential and Community Facilities (17 Jun 2020)

5 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 19 June 2020