How to help

Thank you for volunteering your time to help other students. Your contribution is vital and to help you we have created some handy resources. Please familiarise yourself with this before accepting your first request.

What is the Students’ Union?

UCA Students’ Union represents, supports and provides opportunities for every student at the University.

We want you to have a great time at UCA. Ultimately we are here to make your life better as a UCA student.

We help students experience new things, shape how they live and study on campus, and get support if things aren’t going as hoped.

We are award-winning, run by students and supported by a team of dedicated staff on every campus.

What is a ‘Mutual Aid’ volunteer group?

  • A mutual aid group is a volunteer-based initiative where groups of people in a particular area join together to support one another, meeting vital community needs without the help of official bodies. They do so in a way that prioritises those who are most vulnerable or otherwise unable to access help through regular channels.
  • To support vulnerable students starting at UCA through the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Deliver essential necessities and run errands to self-isolating students.
  • Support student wellbeing through providing a friendly ear and some emotional support to students who are self isolating or finding the pandemic overwhelming.

General principles

  • Do not promise anything that you cannot guarantee.
  • Confidentiality – do not share details of who you visit, their contact information and their circumstances.
  • Be kind to each other.
  • Safeguarding all participants.

Safeguarding is:

  • Safeguarding is the mitigation of risk. It can include financial risk, risk of an organisations reputation, risk to employees and risk to individuals. Generally, it’s used to refer to risks that come from the interactions between people.
  • All interactions between people carry risk. There aren’t many truly horrible people out there but there are many people who don’t know the best way to care for each other.

How you can protect yourself and others:

  • Report any incidents to the Students’ Union.
  • Keep up with guidance as it becomes available.


  • Only take assignments given to you by the Mutual Aid Assistant.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Sanitise hands before and after every drop.

Grocery shopping

You should:

  • Ask for a shopping list via phone call or text message before you go to the shop.
  • Agree whether or not they will accept substitutions.
  • Ask if they have any allergies or dietary requirements.

Making deliveries

  • Don’t go into any residential addresses. Leave goods outside the doorstep. Get confirmation that the person has received it before you leave.
  • Check the safety of the products delivered.
  • Remember to wash hands before and after deliveries. When out and about keep a bottle of alcohol hand sanitiser to hand.
  • Follow social distancing protocol and don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • Public transport should be avoided where possible. In cases where taking public transport is unavoidable, disinfection of the items delivered should be carried out.
  • Take care when handling any items which may be given to people who may have compromised immune systems.

You should wear a mask while carrying out an errand, particularly if you are making the delivery to someone’s home. You should also wear disposable gloves if possible. If there is any PPE you feel you need but do not have access to, put in a request in the ‘reporting an issue’ form on this page, and a Mutual Aid assistant can arrange for you to collect from PPE from your campus Students’ Union office.

Financial safeguarding

  • Groceries run – the Students’ Union will contact you with student information and location. You will need to get in contact with them and discuss money exchange and list of items needed.
  • Where possible payments should be made by bank transfer or a provider such as Paypal or Monzo to minimise the risk of passing on the virus, but if that’s not possible then you can disinfect any cash you receive using soapy water.
  • You should arrange reimbursement through the phone or by socially distanced meet up at their door if possible, i.e. if they live on campus or near campus.
  • We strongly encourage volunteers not to accept credit/debit cards from people asking for help in order to buy resources on their behalf as this is a safeguarding risk.
  • We also recommend that volunteers not make purchases of a value greater than £30.
  • To reduce the risk of fraud, we recommend that wherever possible you do your shopping and come back with a receipt before asking for money from people in self-isolation.
  • You should keep a record of any payments made.
  • Let the Students’ Union know if any issues arise.

Data protection

Do not share the personal information of the students you are visiting with anyone. Students who sign up for Mutual Aid support have also agreed to this.

This includes:

  • Full Names
  • Home Address
  • Email Address
  • ID card Numbers
  • Telephone Numbers
  • Racial or Ethnic origin
  • Religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Political Beliefs
  • Physical and Mental Health

In addition:

  • You must not contact the vulnerable student about anything outside the Mutual Aid request.
  • After your assigned Request has been completed, delete all contact information and messages exchanged.
  • Requesters will receive the same instructions, so your personal information is also safeguarded.

Reporting an issue

  • Fill in the Accident Report Form below with as much detail as possible. We will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.
  • Contact the Police on 999 if you or others are in immediate danger.

Report an issue