2020 Guidance around deliveries and support

Please take a moment to read it and be advised that the information may change daily.
– Last updated 29 March 2020 – 

This is the advice for our delivery volunteers and those receiving help.

Reporting Symptoms

Firstly, if you display any of the symptoms of the virus yourself – or have close contact with someone who has – that you let us know and refrain from volunteering until you are confident that you have recovered / are symptom-free using the NHS guidance.  [Remember you could be contagious and potentially symptom free for up to 14 days before you might feel ill, so it is imperative that you follow the PHE/NHS guidelines]

Questions for those giving and receiving support

What will we be doing?

One of the areas that we are expecting for volunteers to help is to befriend people by phone, email or video link.  We also expect calls for help with dropping off shopping or medicines … or even walking dogs. 

Will we be safe?

The next question is around your own safety – we cannot offer a 100% guarantee that you will not catch coronavirus yourself as a result of giving and receiving support.  Indeed, the current estimates are that over half the population WILL catch it at some point during this outbreak. The decision to help others through volunteering, is a personal choice.

Important to note: COVID-19 is a new virus. The latest advice, comes from evolving research and looking at how it has spread around the world so far.

The situation will vary on a daily basis and we advise that you check the Pubic Health England website to keep up to date. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england

How are most being contaminated by the virus?

“As far as we know right now, people are much more likely to be infected by close contact with an infected person than by touching a contaminated surface. That said, it’s still important to be conscious of what we’re touching, especially high-touch surfaces, and be careful about cleaning our hands after touching things. For example, public transit or grocery stores and places where there tend to be a lot of people.” (Source 1, see list at the bottom).

Hence the government guidance on 2m distancing and spending as little time around other people as possible AND always wash your hands after touching surfaces that might have been touched by those beyond your household.

Before you get the chance to wash your hands, as the virus will enter a person via their mouth, nose and possibly eyes, don’t touch your face and so helping rub it in.

The virus can remain stable for many days in or on items of clothing, on door bells, car door handles, gate handles, furniture etc.

  • “The virus is pretty stable on [materials] like plastic and steel.” (Source 1, see list at the bottom).
  • “The [virus’s] stability is pretty good on the cardboard. Once you get those packages, open them, quickly throw away the cardboard, wash your hands, and try to avoid touching your face. Take any measures that you can to minimize contact from the surface of the package to your face.” (Source 1, see list at the bottom).

Is there a risk of being infected by groceries and packages that we have delivered?

“It’s a low risk, but it’s possible that if someone is delivering a package to your house and they are sick, that may be a route for transmission. I would recommend that any time something new comes into your household, be conscious of washing your hands after handling it.” (Source 1, see list at the bottom).

As above the virus stability on cardboard is pretty good, so unpack shopping, throw away the cardboard and then wash your hands before you touch your face.

There is a possibility of contamination from the contents of packaging, by whoever packed it, but this is a lot lower risk than the cardboard which will have been handled by far more people.

Advice to those receiving shopping

If possible use disposable gloves. Regardless of using gloves, once the goods are unpacked, including all cardboard packaging, wash their hands and if possible all items (including packaging).

Hand Washing

As often as you can, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Less effective, but still great when out about are alcohol hand sanitiser and disposable gloves. A face mask, worn by those not used to wearing them, can often be put on incorrectly and lead to more face touching and so may increase the infection risk.

This virus is an enveloped virus so it doesn’t survive well in soap and alcohol.

  • We have a limited supply of pocket hand gel alcohol cleaner for those doing deliveries. Please don’t use this more than 3 or 4 times before you do a soap and water hand wash. The gel can build up on your hands from repeated use. This prevents it from being an effective cleaning method. If you are one of our delivery volunteers, please get in touch to get one of these pocket hand gel cleaners.

Public health experts have said that – washing your hands is the most important and effective defence against catching the virus. This video is a great guide on the recommended way to wash your hands: https://www.nhs.uk/video/pages/how-to-wash-hands.aspx

Tips for cleaning surfaces

“It’s good to routinely clean any high-touch surfaces, like door handles and toilets. Regular household cleaners are effective, including bleach solutions and alcohol solutions of at least 70% alcohol. If somebody in your household has been diagnosed with Covid-19, then cleaning and disinfection becomes much more important and should be done more frequently.”  (Source 1, see list at the bottom).


For the protection of those delivering and receiving goods, like many delivery drivers do, our volunteers may take a photo of what they drop off, and where they put it.

Summary re delivering and receiving goods

  • So as often as you can, before you head out with deliveries, when you return, as you get home, or before you get home, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Keep at least 2m from others.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Touch as few surfaces as possible.

In an ideal world, we would all ACT LIKE WE ARE ALREADY INFECTED, and then move around and help people with that thought firmly in mind. If we did, then we would not go for walks on beaches and parks with lots of people near to us. We would clean before touching anything that others will touch, and we would ask them to ensure that they clean items before they take the items indoors, as well as cleaning themselves regularly (and not touching their faces) until totally clean.

Cautious Steps We Advise Supporters and Buddies to Follow

SAFEGUARDING: We are finding ourselves in a very unusual situation – we have tried to make the system accountable by logging your details with the Parish Council. We are very much working on a trust basis, if you are worried at any stage please contact us.  [Clearly if you have any safeguarding concerns in any of your volunteering, report them to the Parish Council as soon as is practicable and do not get further involved without seeking advice]

SHOPPING:  If you have to buy an emergency shop/medicines for someone who has no money (for example because they are unable get out to collect their pension) we have the emergency fund. We will pre BACS you funds, so we will need your bank details. You can then contactless pay for the shopping. Photograph and send us the receipt, and we will replenish the fund you have from us, based on the receipts you send back to us.

DO NOT take credit or bank cards from people to pay for their shopping.

If the people you are paying for have cash for the shopping, get them to put this in a sealed envelope. Use your funds from us to contactless pay and give us the envelope. We will use gloves to open these, and pay the money into the bank account.

DON’T ENTER PRIVATE PROPERTY: Although you may enter a property at the same level of a delivery driver, DO NOT EVER enter the home of anybody you are helping. Not just because we are meant to be self isolating. Also never invite somebody into your home.

CONVERSATIONS:   Please do be careful when having conversations with the more vulnerable in our society, and the elderly who may suffer from dementia or alzheimer’s, be missing their families or suffering from stress and anxiety.  We are not trained counsellors. Be patient and expect to have to repeat yourself, and do not get upset by having to repeat yourself. Perhaps encourage people to sing, watch TV, films, read books, listen to audio books, share stories of family or careers.

Please do read this good advice from Saga regarding befriending, and do not feel guilty if you cannot give as much support as perhaps your new friend would like.


What’s in our Food Bags

The food bags we are delivering contain:

  • A range of fresh food that is past its sell-by date but within its use-by date.
  • Bread
  • Pasta or rice
  • Tinned meat eg. Fray Bentos pie, stew
  • Tinned fish eg. tuna, salmon
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tinned tomatoes or pasta sauce
  • Pudding eg. tinned fruit, custard, rice pudding
  • Fresh sandwiches and snacks

Bags will be tailored to the number of people in each household, and any dietary needs.

Nappies and toiletries are available on request. 

Information Sources

  1. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/25/how-long-coronavirus-lasts-on-surfaces-packages-groceries which in turn is sourcing www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973


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