Coronavirus: information and updates

Finding volunteers to buy and deliver food and essentials safely

Some local groups of volunteers are getting essentials for people who cannot go to shops or get deliveries.

Finding volunteers

You can find volunteers by contacting:

You could also try to find support through Facebook groups set up for your local area. Some support groups or volunteers may post about the services available or you can ask for help finding a local volunteer group.

What to expect from a volunteer

A volunteer will phone you to make arrangements. They may call from a withheld number. Discuss a way of paying that you’re both comfortable with, and where they can leave your shopping.

You can then give them a shopping list by phone, text or email. Let them know:

  • any food allergies in your household
  • if you’re happy with substitute products

Some volunteers will collect prescriptions and medication for you. Ask a family member or friend if you do not feel comfortable with this.

Volunteers should not enter your home. Try to:

  • keep at least 2 metres apart
  • arrange a safe place they can drop your shopping
  • leave payment like money or cheques in a safe place where they can collect it
  • throw away carrier bags once you’ve unpacked your goods
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after you’ve handled your goods

How can I shop or get deliveries and takeaways safely? (BBC)

Warning Keep your card and details safe

Do not give your bank card or card details to a volunteer. Use a more secure way of paying such as cash, cheque or a bank transfer.

How to pay safely

Volunteers are advised to limit shopping to £30 per person. Try to pay once they deliver the shopping safely and provide a receipt.  

Cash

Pay a volunteer in cash after they drop off your shopping. Try to have the exact amount and put it in an envelope somewhere safe for them to collect.

No cash?

Payout enables you to give someone you trust a unique barcode and let them get cash for you from a Post Office branch or bank. You do not need a Post Office Account. This is available to all banks, building societies and credit unions.

Payout (Post Office)

How to access cash from your bank when self-isolating (Good Housekeeping)

Cash delivery

You may be able to get a cash delivery of your benefits, tax credits or pension from the Post Office.

If you’re eligible, the DWP will notify the Post Office when your money is due. You’ll get a cash delivery by 9pm the following day.

You can get this service if you:

  • have a Post Office Card Account
  • are shielding
  • live in England

This may expand to include more people and locations in the UK. Contact DWP to discuss cash payment options.

Cash delivery (Post Office)

Contact coronavirus helpline (GOV.UK)

Bank transfer

If you cannot take cash out, transfer the amount directly to the volunteer’s bank account after they drop off your shopping. You can do this online or through your banking app using their sort code and account number.

PayPal

PayPal allows you to pay someone online without swapping bank details. Use the volunteer’s email address or phone number to pay. Or they can give you a PayPal Me link for the amount.

Sign up with your bank details or the following cards:

  • Visa
  • Visa Delta
  • Visa Electron Mastercard
  • Eurocard
  • Maestro
  • American Express

Sign up to PayPal for free (PayPal)

Paying by phone

Some voluntary organisations are using a password system so people can pay for shopping by phone. To do this, you need to give your volunteer a password or number. When they finish shopping, they can go to the customer service desk and call you. The service desk staff will confirm that your passwords or numbers match, and then take the payment from you over the phone.

Bank volunteer cards

Some banks provide a second bank card you can give to a volunteer. These include:

Contact your bank to see if they have similar cards.

Volunteer shopping cards and gift cards

Some supermarkets have volunteer shopping cards including:

They work in the same way as gift cards. You can buy them online and email the code to your volunteer to use.

Cheques

Some volunteers may accept payments by cheque if they are able to deposit it.

How to pay a neighbour or volunteer safely (MoneySavingExpert)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 17/09/2020

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it

Need more help?

Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window