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Coronavirus volunteering guidance for staff

31 Mar 2020

A message from Professor Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President for Social Responsibility

Dear colleagues,

As the country mobilises to meet the challenge of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic many hundreds of thousands of people are volunteering. This is also true of our University, where many of our colleagues are stepping forward to apply their knowledge and experience, and to benefit society.

We want to support you if you are considering volunteering and I hope the guidance below will help you to decide the best way you can contribute.

Emergency Volunteer Leave for colleagues with specific health and social care skills

A temporary new form of statutory leave has been created by the Government through the Coronavirus Bill. This is a duty upon employers to grant leave in blocks of 2/3/4 weeks for employees with specific health and social care skills, who wish to volunteer their time.  Staff need to have been certified by an appropriate authority and should submit this certificate to their line manager in the first instance. 

Other members of University staff

Before volunteering:

  • Make sure that the activity that you are thinking of volunteering for will have no detriment on work you are required to do for our University. If in doubt speak to your line manager. We cannot release people from vital work needed to maintain our teaching, research and other operations.
  • Do not put yourself at risk. You must at all times follow NHS rules on social distancing, which are designed to protect everyone.
  • Make sure that what you are doing as a volunteer is of value. We are supporting the Government’s and Greater Manchester’s guidance on how to do this.

Volunteering opportunities

If you meet the criteria above, there are a number of ways you can contribute:

Support for University COVID-19 research and the NHS

A COVID-19 research rapid response group has been established to bring together the research and innovation strengths in Greater Manchester. More information can be found on our website. If you wish to contribute to this group you should contact: 

The first of a number of calls has been made for volunteers wishing to offer their specialist skills away from their core University role towards supporting clinical services in the NHS. 

We are currently seeking scientists with specific laboratory skills, which are detailed in the registration form below. Over the next few weeks we anticipate seeking other specialist skills (e.g. clinical trial specialists, epidemiologists, data scientists and project managers).

We do need to ensure that teaching and other existing commitments are covered and therefore your Head of Division or Department will need to agree that you can volunteer in this way.

Queries can be directed to 

Support our teaching and learning colleagues in Manchester

We are looking for staff who can support colleagues with creating or enhancing online learning. If you have the skills and expertise you can support others who may be less familiar with online approaches through group discussions, webinars or one-to-one advice.  If you are interested, please email: and tell us about your areas of expertise.

Equipment requests for COVID-19 response

There is a nationally coordinated response to equipment, chemical, resources and coronavirus testing. Please contact Andy Sharrocks, Professor of Molecular Biology ( and Peter Crowe, Head of Technical Services in FBMH ( who are leading the co-ordinated response.

The following requests require a response as soon as possible:

  • Thermofisher RT-PCR 7500 Fast machines;
  • Kingfisher PCR sample prep instruments;
  • Spare hepafilters for Cat 2 hoods;
  • RNAse/DNAse free pipette tips and swabs (in large numbers).

Support our students in Manchester

We are looking for staff who can call or email students who may still be in Manchester to check in with them, point them towards sources of advice and support and then check back in with them from time to time, similar to a ‘a buddy system’. This would really help us to support the many thousands of students still in Manchester. If you are interested, please email: 

Other opportunities

Student volunteering

Students can volunteer through the University’s Volunteering website, which is directing people to the best local and national opportunities.

FBMH students who could help in the NHS are being contacted by their course and programme leaders about how they can support the NHS.

Alumni volunteering

The Division of Development and Alumni Relations is also directing alumni to regional and national volunteering opportunities.

Share your stories

It is incredibly valuable for many of our staff and students and the wider public to hear about how our University community is stepping up to meet the coronavirus challenges. If you want to share your volunteering story, there is guidance on StaffNet. We are looking for great stories that we can share on our channels including social media or the dedicated section of our external website.

Kind regards,

Professor Nalin Thakkar

Vice-President for Social Responsibility