Lone Working and Volunteering Policy

Purpose and scope

The objectives of this policy and procedure are to:

  • Ensure that we have clear guidance for those people who undertake activities on behalf of the Penlee Cluster of churches, as part of their paid or volunteering role, in which they are alone.
  • Ensure that any risks that arise from lone working and volunteering are identified, eliminated, minimised or managed.
  • Ensure the Penlee Cluster of churches complies with the law in this area.

This policy applies to all the Penlee Cluster of churches Church employees and volunteers. Line managers are usually paid staff, but some Penlee Cluster employees, based in groups may be managed by a volunteer.
The use of the term ‘manager’ and ‘line manager’ in this policy refers to both paid and volunteer managers.

Policy principles

The following principles underpin this policy:

  • Everyone is responsible for avoiding and managing any risks that arise from undertaking activities alone.
  • Lone working/volunteering risks will be eliminated where possible and where this is not possible, will be limited and managed.
  • Home visiting has been identified as the highest risk. As a principle, lone home visits should not be undertaken. See guidance for alternative options.
  • The Penlee Cluster of churches will involve staff and volunteers in identifying risks that arise from lone working/volunteering and considering ways to manage them.
  • Risk management will take into account normal working conditions and foreseeable emergency situations e.g., fire, equipment failure, illness and accidents.
  • Staff and volunteers will be provided with support, guidance and where appropriate, training to assist them to stay safe.
  • No volunteer or member of staff should stay in a situation where they feel at risk.
  • All incidents and ‘near misses’ arising from lone working must be reported to a line manager for monitoring purposes. Volunteers should report any ‘near misses’ to their staff contact person.
  • A failure to follow agreed safety procedures may be a disciplinary offence.

Record keeping

Line managers will keep all records of all incidents which were, or were felt to be, detrimental to an individual’s health and/or safety that are reported to them. Managers will send these reports to the Team Rector, who will monitor them.

Lone working/volunteering definition

Lone working or volunteering may be carried out on a regular or occasional basis. Lone working/volunteering is defined as situations when staff or volunteers are undertaking activities on behalf of the Penlee Cluster of churches by themselves without close access to colleagues or a manager.
Examples include:

  • Working from home.
  • Working alone on church premises
  • Travelling on your own.
  • Staying overnight on your own.
  • Meeting people on your own who have, or may have, a history of violence or aggression.


It is not possible to have a specific risk assessment for every situation that an individual might come across and therefore it is only possible to give general guidance and the tools to discuss risk

Staff and volunteers’ responsibilities include:

  • Avoiding lone working/volunteering wherever possible.
  • Identifying risks that may arise from lone working/volunteering.

Discussing risks associated with lone working/volunteering and how to reduce/manage them.

  • Taking every day precautions to ensure their own safety.
  • Setting up a buddy system.
  • Complying with any precautionary measures agreed with their manager.
  • Report lone working/volunteering incidents or near misses to their line manager/staff contact person and Volunteer Coordinator.

Discussion of risk

Safe arrangements for undertaking activities alone are based on the following process:

  • An assessment of the seriousness of the risk.
  • The elimination of the risk if possible.
  • Controlling or managing the risk.

Line managers will discuss the potential risks of lone working with volunteers and staff, ensuring they are aware of the Penlee Cluster of churches ‘s policy and guidance. Using our Lone Working/Volunteering Guidance and Lone Working/ Volunteering Checklist, the discussion should take account of:

  • The individual’s ability to carry out their activities safely on their own in their environment.
  • The potential for the individual to be subject to violence.
  • The individual’s ability to request assistance or to withdraw safely from a dangerous situation.
  • The individual’s fitness to carry out the work/volunteering alone.
  • Sudden illness or emergencies.
  • The effects of social isolation. • Risks related to driving.Fire safety.
  • Any existing precautionary measures and emergency arrangements.

Safe working arrangements

Both managers and staff/volunteers have a responsibility to ensure working arrangements are as safe as possible.

Most risks from undertaking activities alone can be managed through using the lone working policy to do a risk assessment, good planning, communication and buddy relationships, in addition to following any agreed measures designed to manage specific risks.

The following measures must be in place. When undertaking activities alone, staff and volunteers must:

  • Have a mobile phone that has enough charge for the length of time they will be alone.
  • When working alone away from an office or centre, record their exact whereabouts and expected times of arrival and departure in their electronic calendar (or equivalent).
  • Set up a buddy system so that they have a colleague, friend or family member to check in with following lone working/activity.
  • If the staff member does not get in touch at the agreed time, and the buddy cannot contact them, the buddy should be prepared to contact the Police.
  • Stay overnight rather than drive long distances if it is not safe (e.g. due to tiredness or very bad weather).
  • Ensure they carry emergency contact details in case of illness or accident.
  • Secure premises when they are working or volunteering alone.
  • When working at home, keep in regular contact with others by phone/email.
  • Leave or not enter anywhere if they feel unsafe.
  • Report any concerns, lone working incidents or near misses to their line manager.

All staff whose role qualifies for an essential car user allowance will have initial driving skills testing and follow up driving skills training if required. 6.5.

All staff who drive their own car on the Penlee Cluster of churches business must comply with the Penlee Cluster car policy as regards MOT, insurance and hazard warning equipment.

Home visits must always be made in pairs.


Staff and volunteers must report any concerns, lone working incidents or near misses to their line manager.

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