Information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for volunteers

Updated 13 August 2020

In March 2020 we had to take some difficult decisions to pause face-to-face volunteering in order to minimise risk to people living with cancer and our volunteers. We are conducting a review of the latest government guidance and what this means for people living with cancer, our volunteers, staff and members of the public we engage with. We will communicate any changes to our policies on face-to-face volunteering at the earliest possible opportunity. Until then, our position is that face-to-face volunteering activities must not take place, unless specifically approved as an exception by the Working and Volunteering Safely Group.

We will continue to monitor government and wider scientific advice and will update our guidance as soon as it is appropriate - the latest version of this guidance can always be found on this web page.

Key guidance for all volunteers

All volunteers:

  • must avoid all face-to-face contact as part of their volunteering – this includes contact with people with cancer, staff, other volunteers and the public
  • should follow all relevant government guidance with regard to shielding and social distancing, bearing in mind that this can vary depending on where you live
  • should follow government guidance on self-isolation if they, or anyone in their household, shows symptoms of coronavirus, or is advised to self-isolate
  • should let their Volunteer Manager know if they develop symptoms, are self-isolating or would prefer not to volunteer at this time.

Guidance for specific roles

  • Services volunteers: should avoid all face-to-face contact at this time, despite government easing of social distancing regulations, unless specifically approved by the Working and Volunteering Safely Group via your Volunteer Manager. This includes ‘Shop and Drop’ and prescription collection services. Our main services volunteering opportunity at this time is Telephone Buddying, and we may look to recruit more volunteer buddies in the coming weeks, in line with demand for the service from people living with cancer.
  • Fundraising volunteers: no face-to-face fundraising should take place until further notice. We advise checking in with your Fundraising Manager or the Supporter Care Hub regarding any events planned for July or August and before making arrangements for any new events. We will continue to monitor government and wider scientific guidance, and this position may change in the coming weeks. We will communicate any change at the earliest possible opportunity – in the meantime, please check in with your Fundraising Manager or the Supporter Care Hub if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Office-based volunteers: you should have already been updated on the plans for your office space, but if you are at all unsure, please speak to your Volunteer Manager.
  • Community Neighbours and Community Volunteers: as per guidance for other roles, you should avoid all face-to-face practical and emotional support or face-to-face fundraising activities until further notice.
  • Corporate and Indirect Volunteers (volunteers managed through partner organisations): should follow the guidance of their parent organisation.

Any exceptions to the above principles need to be agreed by Macmillan senior management, to ensure we take a consistent approach in safeguarding our volunteers, people living with cancer, staff and the wider public. Please check in with your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Hub (0300 1000 200 or volunteering@macmillan.org.uk) before carrying out any volunteering activities if you are in any doubt.

Sources of support

As well as speaking to your Volunteer Manager, Macmillan offers the following key support channels to volunteers, people affected by cancer and the public:

  • The Macmillan Support Line: available on 0808 808 00 00 and via online chat (opening hours are 8am-8pm, 7 days a week)
  • Macmillan’s Online Community: available 24/7 at community.macmillan.org.uk
  • Macmillan Website: our website provides cancer information 24/7, including a dedicated section on coronavirus
  • Telephone Buddies: our new UK-wide service provides people living with cancer with emotional support by phone.

We also urge all of our volunteers to follow government guidance on social distancing, good hygiene, and self-isolation should you, or anyone in your household, develop symptoms of the coronavirus. Find out about the latest government guidance.

Other activities you can do

We know many volunteers are keen to help as much as they can at this time.

  • Our new Telephone Buddies scheme provides emotional support to people living with cancer, by assigning them with a trained volunteer buddy who calls them once a week. We may be looking to recruit more volunteer buddies over the coming weeks, in line with demand for the service from people living with cancer.
  • We encourage you to join the Macmillan Action Team and participate in online and virtual fundraising activities.
  • Coronavirus has had a significant impact on our ability to fundraise, and people living with cancer need our support more than ever. Find out how you can fundraise safely for Macmillan during the coronavirus crisis.

Staying up to date

Please keep an eye on emails from us and updates to this page over the coming weeks. You can also find our current volunteering opportunities here. If you have any questions or are at all unclear, please speak to your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Hub (0300 1000 200 or volunteering@macmillan.org.uk).

How we can help

Macmillan Cancer Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you need to talk, we'll listen.
0808 808 00 00
7 days a week, 8am - 8pm
Email us
Get in touch via this form
Chat online
7 days a week, 8am - 8pm
Online Community
An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand.
Help in your area
What's going on near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you live.