COVID-19: vulnerable groups and volunteering

Information and guidance related to vulnerable groups and volunteering.

We are working as fast as we can to update this page with useful information for you. Please follow @LGAwellbeing for the latest updates and keep checking back.

Please also see our FAQ page for common questions related to support for vulnerable people, including the shielded and other specific groups, and volunteering.

Vulnerable people

An LGA briefing outlines the current position in councils’ crucial role in supporting vulnerable or people who may become vulnerable people during the current crisis, which is updated as of 9 April via the COVID-19 FAQs. We continue to work with Government and national partners on key issues in supporting vulnerable people locally. Emerging good practice examples are being captured.

There is a huge amount of information available on supporting people through the crisis and the list of resources below does not aim to be comprehensive.  

General advice and information

Government advice

GOV.UK – revised guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people (October 2020)

GOV.UK – local COVID alert levels (October 2020)

GOV.UK – guidance for local authorities to support those extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 (pdf, 24 March 2020)

GOV.UK – guidance on social distancing for vulnerable people

Government guidance on removing patients from the clinically extremely vulnerable list (pdf, May 2020)

Government guidance on accessing food and essential supplies

GOV.UK – further expansion of access to coronavirus testing helps protect the most vulnerable

GOV.UK – emergency funding to support most vulnerable in society during pandemic

Supporting local solutions

DEFRA  commercial food offer for the non-shielded vulnerable (pdf, May 2020)

An LGA briefing outlines the current position in councils’ crucial role in supporting vulnerable or people who may become vulnerable people during the current crisis. This has been updated via a series of COVID-19 FAQs as of 9 April. We continue to work with Government and national partners on key issues in supporting vulnerable people locally.

To inform local work on data a LG Inform dataset looks at people who may be particularly vulnerable (you will need to be signed in to LG Inform to view this)


Note on potential future changes to shielding advice in local areas (pdf, 30 July 2020)

Guidance for families on children & shielding (July 2020)

GOV.UK – guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable

Guidance for local authorities and local resilience forums supporting vulnerable high risk people

Shielding packages FAQs for local authorities (pdf, updated 15 July)

MHCLG data sharing guidance for the shielded group (pdf, 27 April 2020)

MHCLG guidance on the 'uncontactables' (pdf, 4 May 2020)

National shielding helpline council briefing (pdf, 24 April 2020)

Advice to LAs on offboarding of shielding individuals 

NHS Digital  anonymous summary data on patients who have been identified on the COVID-19 Shielded Patient List

MHCLG has now established regional leads for this work. Issues and practice can continue to be sent to the LGA via or our LGA regional contacts.

Children and young people

Updated Government advice about COVID-19 for local authorities and their partners to help support and protect vulnerable children (May 2020).

GOV.UK – guidance on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing

Stop It Now – helping prevent child sex abuse: information and advice during the coronavirus pandemic

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command Centre (CEOP) have just launched a campaign, #OnlineSafetyAtHome, to help prevent all forms of online exploitation. CEOP have produced a number of resources for all age groups and for those concerned about sexting.

NSPCC – guidance for parents about online safety

UNICEF – infant feeding during the coronavirus crisis: a guide for local authorities


Please visit the communities page for translated materials and guidance to and from religious organisations, alongside a range of resources on  supporting asylum seekers, gypsies and travellers and people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.

Domestic abuse

LGA guidance – Tackling domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic

LGA briefing – Domestic Abuse Bill: Second reading

GOV.UK – guidance on domestic abuse

GOV.UK – support for victims of domestic abuse

GOV.UK – guidance for domestic abuse safe accommodation provision

GOV.UK – letter from Luke Hall MP for local authorities to work closely with domestic abuse services (pdf, 27 April 2020)

GOV.UK – funding for domestic abuse and sexual violence support services

GOV.UK – Home Office extraordinary funding for domestic abuse support services

Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance – Guidance for housing providers during COVID-19

Employers initiative – help for employees when home is not a safe place

Refuge: resources and posters highlighting the National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Respect: #NoExcuseforAbuse campaign calls on perpetrators of domestic abuse to get help to manage and change their behaviour

Safe Lives: Guide for victims and survivors of domestic abuse staying safe during COVID-19.

Standing Together against Domestic Abuse: guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak

Surviving Economic Abuse: Guidance on economic abuse during COVID-19

Women’s Aid: making a safety plan

Live chats and survivor forums

Women’s Aid Survivors Forum
Women’s Aid Live Chat
Victim Support Live Chat

The Samaritans can also be a source of support for people who are generally feeling low and would like to talk to someone. They are a non-judgemental listening service that will not give advice or pressure them in any way.

Bright Sky app by Hestia

Bright Sky is a free mobile app, launched by Hestia in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

Telephone support services

England: freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 (run by Refuge) 
Northern Ireland: 0808 802 1414
Scotland: 0800 027 1234
Wales: 0808 8010 800
Men's Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
Respect helpline: 0808 802 4040 (for anyone worried that they may be harming someone else

Financial hardship

LGA briefing note on local government coronavirus response to Economic Vulnerability and Financial Hardship

Government information

GOV.UK – COVID-19 council tax hardship fund

GOV.UK – COVID-19 council tax hardship fund letter (pdf, 16 April 2020)

Department for Work and Pensions – coronavirus and claiming benefits

Other information

Money Advice Service – coronavirus: what it means for you and what you're entitled to

Surviving Economic Abuse: Guidance on economic abuse during COVID-19

The NRPF Network has developed a factsheet on councils’ roles and responsibilities for supporting people with no recourse to public funds during the pandemic.

Health inequalities

Please visit COVID-19: Public Health for a range of resources on health inequalities.

Homelessness and rough sleeping

LGA submission to HCLG Committee’s inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness and the private rented sector

Please visit COVID-19: housing, planning and homelessness for a further range of resources

Mental health, mental capacity, isolation and wellbeing

LGA & partners

LGA and the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) a briefing for Directors of Public Health on public mental health and wellbeing issues.

LGA/ADPH loneliness and social isolation practical advice note

LGA – COVID-19: social care staff wellbeing


Mental Health Foundation – mental health in the pandemic

Centre for Mental Health – supporting mental health during COVID-19: a brief guide

Centre for Mental Health – understanding inequalities in mental health during the pandemic

Mental Health Network – our frontline: support for frontline workers

GOV.UK  guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing

Health Network  bringing VCSE and Statutory Services together to supporting Mental Health in Communities (pdf)

Supporting mental health in communities during the coronavirus crisis

CQC – changes to the Mental Health Act complaints process

Centre for Mental Health – COVID-19 and the nation's mental health: Forecasting needs and risks in the UK: May 2020

Institute of Fiscal Studies – the mental health effects of the first two months of lockdown and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK (pdf, June 2020)


Carers UK: mental wellbeing and help and advice

Mobilise’s  a virtual 'Cuppa' for carers at 4pm,

The Children’s Society - Young Carers

Children’s and young people’s mental health

The Children and Young People Mental Health Coalition

GOV.UK – guidance on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing

Mind for Children and Young People

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Young Minds

Mental capacity

GOV.UK – looking after people who lack mental capacity including deprivation of liberty safeguards


LGA – reaching out: helping councils tackle loneliness

Let's talk loneliness campaign 

Campaign to End Loneliness – ideas to help older people stay connected during self-isolation

GOV.UK – £5 million Loneliness COVID-19 grant: information and how to apply

Mind: about loneliness

PHE looking out for each other resources on combating isolation

Age UK: staying safe and well at home

Alzheimer’s Society: getting support

British Red Cross: six facts about loneliness 

Stroke Association managing loneliness and isolation

The Silver Line helpline for older people 


Every Mind Matters – Looking after your mental health

Mind – coronavirus and mental wellbeing

Mental Health Foundation: How to look after your mental health

Mental Health and Money Advice  

PHE – Now more than ever, Every Mind Matters: new campaign resources

World Health Organisation – mental health and psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

Modern slavery

Home Office – Modern Slavery awareness booklet (pdf, 2020)

Home Office – modern slavery and COVID-19: what to do if you are a First Responder (pdf)

Home Office – modern slavery and COVID-19: what to look out for and how to get help (pdf)


GOV.UK – £8 million to help vulnerable people apply to the EU Settlement Scheme

FocusGov have made their secure messaging service available for local authorities and other organisations who need to stay in touch with vulnerable people

Giving World is a national charity offering help to local hubs and councils in the response to COVID-19, including providing essentials to the people in the medically shielded groups and other vulnerable people free of cost. They are also providing patients and front-line staff with changes of clothing and personal hygiene products. Please contact Rama Bhalla at for more information or visit their website.

People with disabilities

GOV.UK – supporting disabled people through the coronavirus outbreak

Please visit the page COVID-19: adult social care and support for a range of resources on people with learning disability or autism

Public health service users

GOV.UK – guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol


Please visit the page COVID-19: adult social care and support for a range of resources on safeguarding adults. More information on children and young people is given in the folder above.

Visually or hearing impaired

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

  • FAQs from blind and partially sighted people (by RNIB, Guide Dogs, Visionary, VICTA, Fight for Sight, Vision UK and the Macular Society)
  • Helpline including advice on social distancing and support for accessing shopping and local support (0303 123 9999 8am-8pm weekdays and 9am-5pm Saturdays)
  • Five ways RNIB services can help
  • Guidance to help ensure digital communication is accessible to blind and partially sighted people

PHE Campaign Resource Centre: British Sign Language materials related to coronavirus


Accessing support: the role of the voluntary and community sector during COVID-19
An LGA briefing on the role and contribution of the community and voluntary sector and the use of volunteers in local and national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government information

Government guidance on how to help people safely

Government guidance on supporting people outside of their home

Government information on eligibility guidance for standard DBS checks

NHS Volunteer Responders

An incredible 750,000 volunteers have signed up for NHS Volunteer Responders since its launch on 24 March 2020.

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme has been extended to social housing staff, who can now directly refer tenants who need help with collecting shopping, medicines or other essentials.

NHS is encouraging health and social care professionals, pharmacists and local authorities to use the service to refer people for support via the NHS Volunteer Responders referrers’ portal. You can also call 0808 196 3382 to refer patients.

Social care providers can make referrals directly if they have an or email address. Without one, they will need to await approval which may take up to 72 hours, or they can make referrals through their local authority. 

This resource is available to councils to continue to work with others to support both the shielded group and also to those who are vulnerable or become vulnerable for wider reasons.

Identity checks are carried out for all volunteers, with an enhanced DBS check for those volunteering as patient transport drivers. Royal Voluntary Service, the charity delivering the volunteer effort, is completing security checks for the 750,000 applications and the scheme is now fully operational.

You can refer people who are at very high risk from coronavirus where no local support is available, for example if they have been asked to self-isolate and ‘shield’, if they are over 70 and have underlying health conditions, or if they are self-isolating and you consider them to be especially vulnerable. Please continue to make use of your local schemes where they exist and please talk to your patients if in doubt about whether they require support.

Once the referral is logged, ‘on duty’ volunteers in your area pick the job they want to do that day and close the task once complete. You can use the portal to track when the patient receives support. You can also use the portal or phone number to remove someone from the scheme if they no longer need assistance.

The NHS has also published guidance for volunteer responders on how to refer individuals (pdf) and for volunteers helping homeless people (pdf).

Other guidance

LGA briefing on accessing support: the role of the voluntary and community sector during COVID-19

CQC  – interim guidance on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) applications and other recruitment checks for providers recruiting staff and volunteers to health and social care services 

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) – information on volunteering and coronavirus

Councils can now make a request for volunteer support

Volunteer guide and short videos on dementia

Related information

COVID-19: adult social care and support

COVID-19: communities

COVID-19: council FAQs

COVID-19: good council practice

COVID-19: resident support