Lone volunteering procedures

If you're alone for any of your volunteering tasks, follow these procedures

In many cases, lone volunteering is low risk.

However, it can create risks. Or increase risks that are already present. Lone volunteering should not be your first choice as a leadership team.

If you're worrying about doing any volunteeringon your own, you should talk to your commissioner. Girlguiding does not expect you to put yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Your safety is paramount. The following points are designed to help you keep safe.

Lone volunteering generally

  • Always carry out a sense check using the guidance below
  • Do not enter into or remain in a situation where you feel unsafe 
  • Wherever possible, carry out meetings in pairs with another volunteer
  • Wear suitable clothing that does not restrict movement
  • Do not carry unnecessary bags or valuables
  • If you have anything valuable on you or in the building (like a laptop, phone or cash) keep them it of sight. Personal belongings and money are not covered under Girlguiding insurance. Check if they are covered under your household policy
  • Carry a mobile phone and set up speed dial keys for emergency numbers and your home contact. Consider registering your device to a mobile phone tracker and have cloud backup in case it's stolen
  • Use the contact system that you've set up. This way someone knows where you're going and when you are expected back and what to do if you do not check in with them
  • Consider carrying a personal alarm

Volunteering alone at a building or other premises

  • Make sure you have easy access and exit routes in the building, including emergency exit
  • Think carefully about anyone else you give access to – do you know them and feel safe with them?
  • Let someone know when you should arrive and leave. Let them know when you arrive, tell them where you are and arrange to check-in by phone with them
  • Where possible, volunteer at the premises when you know someone else will be there, like other groups or the caretaker
  • If an incident occurs or you have concerns (for example you see anti-social behaviour outside or inappropriate behaviour from other building users), take immediate action to keep yourself safe. You might want to call the police, call your home contact or leave the building, if safe to do so

Visits, meetings and travelling

  • Wherever possible meet in a public, reputable place
  • Avoid meeting places where alcohol can be drunk
  • Check out the area and route beforehand
  • Plan your route ahead so that you do not need to stop to look at maps
  • Where possible, keep to the safest routes. For example, good roads, less remote routes, good transport connections, well lit
  • If travelling by car, make sure you have enough petrol. Consider having a first aid and breakdown kit in your car
  • Check for the best places to park ahead of visiting. Avoid poorly lit places and ensure that you've arranged a phone check in when you arrive and leave
  • If travelling by public transport, check alternative routes and familiarise yourself with the timetable. Make sure you know where the emergency exits are once on board. Only use licensed mini cabs or taxis
  • Avoid walking or waiting in isolated or poorly lit places

Health and wellbeing

You must take into account your own health and wellbeing.

For example, if you are disabled or have a health condition, you must think about how this affects your lone volunteering and what you need in the event of an emergency.

You should re-evaluate lone volunteering from time to time and especially when you experience changes to your physical or mental health.

In most cases, lone volunteering will be an uneventful experience. A key part of helping to keep everyone safe is to make sure that if something does happen, or could have happened, that we respond and learn from it.

If are there any incidents, you should follow the emergency procedures

Lone volunteering incidents or accidents must be reported on the Notification of accident or incident form which can be found in the emergency file. Accidents be reported to HQ following the usual procedures. Near misses, meaning an incident occurred, but there was no injury or damage, you should report it to your commissioner using the notification of accident or incident form, detailing what could have happened.

If you need support or advice following an incident you should contact the Safeguarding team on [email protected], or the insurance team on [email protected], in the case of an accident.

The commissioner’s responsibility is to

  • check what support the persons involved in the situation may need and seek support herself if required
  • review whether relevant risk assessments and practice should be revised in the light of an accident, incident or near miss

Assess the risks

Don’t put yourself at risk when volunteering alone. If you feel at all worried about a meeting or event, think about the following:

Do you have any concerns about:

  • Who are you meeting - do you know this person?
  • Location of the meeting/event - are you meeting in public?
  • Reason for the meeting - is the meeting to discuss a sensitive/emotive issue, will you be handling cash?
  • Time of the meeting/event - are you meeting in the evening when it’s dark?
  • Travelling - is it a long and/or difficult journey?
  • Your health – does carrying out this task alone put your health in danger?

If you do have concerns, think about them in the same way you would for risk assessing any event or activity. What is the likelihood of this risks happening, and how serious would they be?

Think about how you can reduce the risks by making some small changes to your plans. For example,

  • Change the location of the meeting so it’s more public, or easier for you to get to.
  • Can someone come with you if you’re carrying money or dealing with a sensitive matter?
  • Change the meeting time so you can avoid travelling in the dark.

Always follow the lone volunteering procedures and tell your commissioner about your plans. If you do have concerns about the risks, talk them through with your commissioner.