You can click on the buttons at the top or bottom of this page to read more about how we're supporting the workforce, or read on for an overview.
There are many organisations that are already exceptional in developing their employees, and those giving their time for free, to provide an excellent customer experience.
We'd like this to become more widespread, so that the sport and physical activity sector is seen as a leader in customer experience and satisfaction.
Our professional workforce plan has two main objectives – to support the workforce to become more customer focused, and to develop the workforce so that it's recognised as professional.
Volunteers have always played a vital part in the sport and physical activity sector. Without them, most activity simply wouldn’t happen.
For that reason, we’ve tended to think of volunteering as something people only do for the benefit of others. But our Volunteering in an Active Nation strategy is looking to change these perceptions.
That’s why we’re putting increased diversity and the experience of existing volunteers at the heart of efforts to create a more enjoyable, meaningful volunteering experience.
Good coaching has enormous benefits for both the people who take part and the people doing the coaching.
At the moment, coaching largely supports the people who already have a regular sporting habit. These people are important, and improving their experience is key.
But for the first time, we also want to unleash the power of coaching for all of those people taking their first steps to becoming more physically active, so that they too can benefit from the support that good coaches provide – that’s why we’ve developed our coaching plan for England.
There are two main objectives in our plan:
Support the workforce to become more customer focused
Develop the workforce so that it’s recognised as professional.
Volunteering in an Active Nation
Our May 2018/19 Active Lives Adult Survey report revealed that 6.2 million adults had given their time at least twice in the last year to help make sport and physical activity happen. Without them, most activity simply wouldn’t take place.
That’s why we’re putting the experience of the volunteer and increased diversity at the heart of efforts to create a more enjoyable, meaningful volunteering experience for everyone
Club Matters is our one stop shop for clubs, groups and organisations involved in the delivery of sport and physical activity. It provides free, practical resources to help organisations to develop, grow and become more sustainable and successful.
Major Event Volunteer Fund
The Major Event Volunteer Fund aims to ensure people who lend their time at major events can continue to gain from the benefits we know volunteering can provide.
In collaboration with UK Coaching, we took a light-hearted look at what not to do when you take on a coaching role.
Whether it’s throwing the infamous trophy tantrum or getting hit with the bench banishment for bad behavior, have a laugh with our coaching blunders animations and get some tips on being a great coach and the coaching blunders to avoid.
Volunteers have a vital role to play in helping to ensure the safe return for many sports and activities when coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions are eased.
This is particularly true of community clubs and groups, who are often entirely dependent on volunteers giving their time so the club or group can deliver sport and activity safely.
Ensuring a safe and supportive environment to encourage volunteers to re-engage and feel able to give their time in a safe environment will be critical as part of preparing for the return of activity.
It's important to identify the practical steps that can be taken so volunteers feel supported, welcomed and most importantly able to volunteer safely if they choose to do so.
Inevitably, volunteering in your club or group will, when permitted, look different than it did before the pandemic. From who volunteers, what they do and how much time they're able to provide, to the new roles that are needed to keep those taking part and members safe.
Balancing the new needs of the club with those of the volunteers will require a flexible approach, and the ability and willingness to adapt.
Planning and preparing for a safe return
Keeping participants and volunteers safe is paramount, and any activity and volunteering should only take place in line with government guidelines.
Your sport or activity will have (or will be in the process of developing) a 'return to play' guide, developed by the national governing body for the sport.
It should help to provide a framework to guide you, setting out the wider context for your volunteer engagement and management. It will also help you to work through the tasks and roles you may need volunteers to support you with.
Understanding the wider framework of the relevant return to play guide may also be helpful for volunteers, so they can understand how their role and the tasks they do contribute towards this.
Other useful resources
Our club support programme, Club Matters, has developed a reopening action plan that encourages you to look across your club or organisation to help formulate a plan for returning as and when permitted by the government.
If you own or run any facilities, there will be government and sport-specific guidelines you will need to follow around hygiene and social distancing, which will have an impact on volunteers and their roles.
Communication with volunteers throughout this process will be key, and the relevant return to play guide could be a helpful way to start a dialogue with volunteers about returning to volunteering, what elements of their role might be possible and how they feel about returning to volunteering in a new context.
Consider sharing the guide with your volunteers and using it to discuss what it means for their role.
What you need to support your activities
Once you have a good understanding of what activity could take place when and if permitted by the government, and what new processes and practical considerations you need to have in place (for example new hygiene measures and social distancing), then you'll be able to start to identify the tasks and roles that volunteers could support with.
Consider doing an assessment of the level of support you may need from volunteers. As part of this, you may find it helpful to think about:
- What roles and tasks volunteers could do safely to support the needs of the club or organisation and those taking part
- How many volunteers would be needed
- Any gaps in terms of numbers or particular skills or experience needed
- How many of your existing volunteers would be willing and able to return and offer support, and whether you need to recruit new volunteers or draw on other support.
Remember to be sensitive in how you communicate as some volunteers may feel nervous about eventually returning, and make sure you're not inadvertently asking them to share their health data or any other sensitive information.
Data protection law applies to personal data on volunteers and should be treated in line with your data protection policy and procedures.
Understanding the situation or circumstances of your volunteers could help inform your plans. For example, do you know how many of your existing volunteers would be able to come back into their current role? Are some volunteers nervous about returning or may not want to return into their previous role?
You could consider running a short volunteer survey to find out more, or perhaps a more informal approach like one-to-one conversations with volunteers, or include it as a topic on a social catch up or online meeting if appropriate.
Club Matters has produced an ‘understanding your people’ toolkit on how you can conduct surveys and some example questions to ask on volunteering.
At this time, we need to think about delivering sport and physical activity differently. For most volunteers this will mean their role or the context could be different too.
When the time is right, it may not be appropriate to bring all volunteers back at the same time, and it may be that for some it's still more appropriate for them to do their role from home if possible.
Roles that volunteers may have done before the pandemic may not be required now, or when government restrictions are eased further, or the role may need to be done differently in order to support activities and those taking part in different ways.
You'll need to consider first and foremost how roles need to be adapted to ensure that volunteers can do them safely.
You may also want to consider the following:
New roles or tasks
There may be new roles or tasks that volunteers can help with, such as support with implementing digital or online approaches, or considering new business models or approaches to diversifying income.
What roles can be done at home or remotely, e.g. online or in a different setting?
Working in partnership
There may be opportunities to work in partnership with other organisations in your local area.Read more
For example, your local volunteer centre may have people in your area who would be keen to give their time as volunteers, but who haven’t found a role yet - it could be a great time to raise the profile of your club and recruit new volunteers as you plan for the return of sport and physical activity.
Volunteering for other organisations
If you have volunteers who are unable to volunteer with you currently, or perhaps more volunteers than you need at the moment, could you encourage them to support other organisations or initiatives in the local community that are permitted to operate?Read more
This can be a great way of developing local connections, which may be beneficial later when it comes to attracting other volunteers or new members.
Building new relationships
You may have already been helping others locally and have built new relationships as a result.Read more
These connections and understanding of other assets in your local area and community may be helpful as you start to plan for a return to activity, and it’s a great time to consider how new partnerships and relationships can help you to enhance what you do in the future as well as supporting the return to activity in the short term.
Data protection risks around health information provided by your volunteers must be managed in line with data protection law.
Keeping volunteers safe
Community organisations providing sport and physical activity have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of volunteers, employees (if you have any) and those taking part.
As a starting point, this duty of care starts with the organisation itself. However, the potential liability of individuals should be considered if the organisation is an unincorporated body. Organisations have a duty of care towards their volunteers and an obligation to protect them under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
It's important that all volunteers, committee members and leaders, as well as participants, are appropriately educated on the relevant NGB ‘return to play’ guidance for the delivery of activities and the use of facilities, places and spaces so they can take informed decisions. Indoor sport and physical activity facilities and outdoor pools remain closed.
Secondly, insurance policies should be carefully reviewed by clubs and community organisations before any activities of participants or volunteers are resumed.
If there's any doubt as to whether the existing policy will cover the activities you'll be running, or plan to run when permitted by the government, the insurance broker or provider should be consulted.
For helpful information on insurance policies, see section 4 of the Legal Risks and Duties of Care When Returning to Play document.
Identifying and managing risks
Doing a risk assessment is an essential starting point for working through what the risks may be for volunteers in particular roles, and the practical steps you can take to keep them safe and mitigate the risks.Read more
It'll also help you put measures in place to ensure that the facility, location or context where volunteering is, or will, take place is safe.
There may be some circumstances where personal protective equipment is required.
There may also be some volunteers who are more comfortable wearing face masks and gloves. Clubs and organisations should accommodate these needs and preferences as far as possible and ensure there are appropriate supplies.
Your sport’s 'return to play' guide, if appropriate, will help you to identify what specific risks and measures need to be put in place for the type of activity or sport that you're planning for.
If you work with children and young people as participants or volunteers, you'll also need to ensure that you can apply your safeguarding policy and procedures appropriately in this new context. Get more information on coronavirus and safeguarding in sport.
Who can return to volunteering
Each individuals' circumstances and level of risk will be different, and specific government guidance still applies to people who may be more vulnerable from the virus.Read more
While anyone can volunteer, there's guidance on who should and shouldn’t be leaving their home to do so. Some volunteers may be:
You may have volunteers who fall into several of these groups.
Volunteers should follow government and public health guidelines to help them take a decision on whether it's safe for them to volunteer, and this should be considered as part of the risk assessment for volunteers and their role.
It will be up to each volunteer to choose whether they return and if so, when and how they want to give their time. Remember, not all facilities can currently reopen, so please check the latest government guidance.
Please keep in mind that a volunteer should not be compelled to justify their decision or share any health data or any other sensitive information with you.
For many people, particularly those who may have been shielding, the return to volunteering could be something they're looking forward to, and so if someone isn’t able to return to their usual role, then consider how you can keep them connected and still feel involved.
Volunteering has a positive impact on mental wellbeing, so considering what adaptations could be made to allow people to take part again can be a way that your group, club or organisation can have a positive impact on the community.
Remember, you can still involve people virtually and we have some tools to help you via Club Matters.
If volunteers are feeling isolated or are struggling with mental health, you can signpost them to resources and information from Mind.
In planning your approach with volunteers and in your communications, it may be helpful to remind volunteers that it's their choice to return, so they don’t feel any undue pressure.
Blanket requests for all volunteers to return is unlikely to be practical in line with the guidelines or be a message that shows understanding of the different circumstances your volunteers may find themselves in.
Communicating with your volunteers
It’s important to talk to volunteers about their role and ensure they're comfortable with what their tasks would be and how to keep themselves safe whilst volunteering.
Many may be nervous about coming back, so it may be beneficial to ensure you can tell volunteers what measures will be put in place to keep them safe and what steps you're taking to support them if and when they do return.
If there are going to be significant changes to their role, communicate with your volunteers as early as possible, before changes are put into place, so that you agree them and they know what to expect and how they can be supported.
Existing volunteers may also have ideas or suggestions that may help you consider how to best support your club or those taking part, and how they can contribute their time and skills.
Volunteers may have other responsibilities at this time, such as looking after relatives, childcare or changing working circumstances. It's therefore worthwhile checking in with them to identify what time they may be able to commit and what flexibility and support they may need so they can carry out their volunteering role. It may be that they can still help, but may need to do a different role or carry it out in a different way.
Training and induction
You may need to consider what new training needs to be offered to volunteers to support them in this current situation, or if they're doing, or will be doing, a new role.
Many roles may need to understand new processes and procedures to be followed around hygiene or social distancing, for example.
It could be an opportunity to give volunteers a chance to try something new, get an insight into another role or part of the sport, or do some training if there's downtime in their current role
Online training and induction can be an effective way to give volunteers the information and updates they need without the need to bring people together.
Check with your sport’s governing body to see if they have anything that would be useful and relevant to your club or organisation. Club Matters also has a range of helpful toolkits, guides and webinars.
Tools and resources
We've compiled some useful tools and resources to support you and your volunteers.
If you have any content you'd like to see on this page, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The legal bit
This guidance note is provided for general information only. Sport England is not your adviser and any reliance you may place on this guidance is at your own risk. Neither Sport England, nor any contributor to the content of this guidance, shall be responsible for any loss or damage of any kind, which may arise from your use of or reliance on this guidance note.Read more
Care has been taken over the accuracy of the content of this guidance note but Sport England cannot guarantee that the information is up to date or reflects all relevant legal requirements.
Sport England makes no claim or representation regarding, and accepts no responsibility for, the quality, content, nature, reliability or safety of third-party websites or services accessible by hyperlink (“Link”) in this guidance note.
Such linked websites are not under Sport England’s control. Sport England is not responsible for the content of any such linked websites and/or any link contained in a linked website, or any review, changes or updates to such websites.
Sport England provides these Links to you only as a convenience and/or for educational purposes, and the inclusion of any Link does not imply any affiliation, endorsement, or adoption by Sport England of the website or any information contained in it.
The information contained in this guidance note is not organisation specific and therefore may not be suitable for your organisation or club.
We recommend that you obtain professional specialist technical and legal advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of information contained in this guidance note.