Guidance for Macmillan volunteers

Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to make sure our incredible volunteers and the people they support are safe. Here is the latest information for volunteers.

Information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for volunteers

The latest guidance about coronavirus

Updated Friday 16 July 2021

Restrictions are beginning to ease around the UK. However, it is important that you continue to follow the latest government advice for where you live in the UK.

Visit government websites for guidance on what you can and cannot do in:

As the vaccination programme continues to roll out, we understand that people with cancer and their friends and family will have a lot of questions. We have more information about different coronavirus vaccines.

Macmillan guidance for volunteers

Updated 16 July 2021

In March 2020, we had to take the decision to pause all face-to-face volunteering in the face of the emerging pandemic. Since then we have created alternative activities such as our Telephone Buddies service, as well as virtual and socially-distanced fundraising, and volunteers have been able to keep supporting Macmillan by undertaking activities that avoid face-to-face contact.

General guidance for all Macmillan volunteers

As a minimum, all Macmillan volunteers are expected to:

  • Follow advice and guidance provided by national and local government whilst volunteering
  • Avoid face-to-face volunteering if they show symptoms of coronavirus or are recommended to self-isolate by NHS test and Trace.  

When undertaking fundraising activities, we strongly recommend that volunteers:

  • Wear a face covering, unless unable to for medical reasons
  • Socially distance as much as possible
  • Practice good hand hygiene. 

When visiting people living with cancer (either indoors or outdoors), all volunteers must:

  • Wear a face covering, unless unable to for medical reasons
  • Socially distance as much as possible
  • Practice good hand hygiene.

Macmillan’s position on face coverings

Clinically vulnerable people, including many cancer patients who are at greater risk from Covid, will be extremely anxious about rising infection rates just as the protective restrictions are being lifted. Measures like social distancing and mask wearing have helped protect this group and enabled them to feel safer in their everyday lives.

With the relaxation of mandatory measures and inconsistent guidance between the UK nations on issues like mask wearing, we are openly encouraging members of the public to help those who are clinically extremely vulnerable in their community by continuing to wear masks in crowded places, in shops and on public transport, and by observing social distancing. 

We will be publicising out message through media and social media activity, and supporting the NHS Confederation’s #NotTooMuchToMask campaign. We are also calling on the Government to protect cancer services through this wave and ensure treatment and care is not disrupted.

Approval for Volunteering Activities

As of July 2021, we are starting the return to some types of face-to-face volunteering. This will be a gradual process starting with lower risk activities within fundraising, but we hope to expand the list over the coming weeks as government restrictions ease across the UK.  We have set out an approval process for the return to face-to-face volunteering, the most up to date version of which is set out below.

Current activities that can take place without prior approval

The following activities have a centralised risk assessment and can be carried out without needing specific approval via your Volunteer Manager (though all activities should still be conducted in line with national and local government guidance and the general guidance for all Macmillan volunteers, as set out below):

  • Hosting and attending Fundraising Committee meetings
  • Servicing and banking of collection tins
  • Volunteering at Macmillan-led cheer points, water stations, Mighty Hikes, etc
  • Boots store collections from July 2021

The following activities no longer require central agreement, but do require an individual risk assessment to be submitted to your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Team prior to the activity taking place, as was the case before the pandemic:

  • Outdoor collections, including tombolas, tabletop sales
  • Outdoor stands, such as information or refreshment stands at National Garden Scheme (NGS) or other events

If in any doubt, please contact your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Hub.

Activities which will still require prior approval

This includes all other Fundraising Committee activities (such as indoor events; events involving large numbers of participants/attendees such bike rides, fetes etc; or events that pose a potential reputational risk to Macmillan), as well as all face-to-face services volunteering at the current time.

These activities still need central agreement before they can go ahead. To make a case for an activity to be considered as an exception, please speak to your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Hub in the first instance.

If in doubt about an activity, please contact your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Hub, and please assume it remains in category two above, unless specifically told otherwise.

We would like to thank you for your continued patience and support as we continue to respond to the coronavirus crisis and seek to minimise the risk to people with cancer, our staff and our supporters.

We will continue to monitor infection rates, government guidance and scientific advice and will update our policies as quickly as possible.

Further information and support

If you have any questions about the above, please contact your Volunteer Manager or the Supporter Care Hub (0300 1000 200 or volunteering@macmillan.org.uk) before carrying out any volunteering activities.

You may also wish to use the following services, which are available 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

Macmillan volunteers also have access to our Macmillan's EAP (Employee Assistance Programme). This offers phone support including a stress helpline, structured telephone counselling, referral to face-to-face counselling, and more. Online help offers online chat through the My Healthy Advantage app, emotional support, fitness advice, and more. These services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please contact your Volunteer Manager for details on how to access the service.

Other activities you can do

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

  • 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.
  • You may also wish to consider supporting our campaigns.
  • If you have a cancer experience, you might want to consider supporting us as a Cancer Voice.
  • At the current time, we have enough volunteers to support our Telephone Buddy scheme and fundraising Action Team, but we may look to recruit more volunteers in the future. Please visit volunteering.macmillan.org.uk for a continually updated list of current opportunities.

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).