Volunteer Handbook


Welcome to Manchester Cares. As a small organisation tackling some big challenges, we’re always inspired to see new people joining our growing network and keen to and hang out with and help their older neighbours across Manchester. We’re very pleased to have you on board and look forward to getting to know you in the coming weeks and months.

Manchester Cares is a community network of younger and older neighbours hanging out and offering each other social connection and friendship.

We know that our wonderful volunteers have busy work and social lives and want to be more involved in their local community, but find it difficult to do so. For that reason we try to make our programmes as accessible as possible. Many of our activities occur during evenings and weekends, and we do not require you to commit to volunteering for weeks at a time unless you want to. We’ve also eliminated a lot of the paperwork, so we don’t require you to be DBS checked unless you want to support an individual through our Love Your NeighbourThis means you can get involved straight away!

In turn, we ask our volunteers to stay in contact with Manchester Cares staff by phone or email, so that when we are planning activities and interactions we can make them the very best they can be – and to ensure they are always improving the lives of our older neighbours. We also ask our volunteers to talk to us regularly so that we can build a genuine social network flexible to changing needs.

That means we can be agile to your needs and the needs of our older neighbours over time – but once you’ve committed to an activity, we’ll expect you to be there.

We've put together this handbook of need to knows. If you'd prefer a PDF version you can download and read through everything in our Younger Neighbour Handbook

Social Clubs

Our social clubs are free group activities that take place throughout the month. They offer older and younger neighbours the chance to share time, laughter and new experiences in locations across Manchester.

Our social clubs programme is deliberately varied: both in when the events take place (the majority are in the evenings, with a handful of social clubs on weekdays and at the weekends) and in the types of activities we organise. Our social club activities include clubs like:  

  • Desert Island Discs nights
  • Documentary club
  • Chippy club 
  • Business visits
  • Museum / gallery visits
  • Pub quiz
  • Pottery classes 
  • Bowls 
  • Urban gardening 
  • Theatre trips
  • Chair Yoga
  • Themed clubs (like Pride Party, or Burns Night)

You can see all of the social clubs we have planned in your monthly email or check out our blog

Tips to get the most out of social clubs

  • Arrive with a get up and go attitude. It doesn’t matter if you’re attending a Ballroom dancing club and you’ve got two left feet – in fact that’s probably preferable to being a pro: your inexperience will break the ice and have you laughing and forging friendships in no time.
  • Get stuck in and ask the person you’re sitting with lots of questions. How regularly do they join Manchester Cares’ events? Have they always lived in Manchester? What did they do for a living?
  • Tell them about yourself too – people will be so interested to hear about your job, your family, your interests, what you got up to at the weekend. Be sure to respond – if they want to follow up a topic of conversation, go with it; if they don’t, talk about something else.
  • Speak loudly and clearly – if people are struggling to hear you, they won’t be offended if you’re raising your voice. 

Some Dos & Don'ts

  • Don't swap contact details with your older neighbours. We ask you to keep your friendships inside the social clubs, to ensure everyone’s safety – neither the volunteers or older people attending social clubs have DBS checks.
    If an older neighbour asks to swap contact details with you, please explain that you’ve been asked by the Manchester Cares team not to give them out or take other people’s down, but that you’d love to see and spend time with them at another social club soon. 
  • Don't meet up with neighbours outside of clubs. Again, an important part of our safeguarding procedure, however if you really hit it off with an older neighbour at a social club, and would like to spend time one-to-one on a regular basis, this may be possible through our Love Your Neighbour programme.
  • If you sign up for a club, please make sure you attend. We work really hard to ensure every older neighbour has a volunteer to speak to at our events: volunteers dropping out after signing up can make this tricky. Some of our social clubs are also over-subscribed, so by signing up and then dropping out last minute, you may be depriving another volunteer of a place. We understand plans change, but we just ask that you let us know as soon as possible. 
  • Be our eyes and ears. Is someone shares information about their circumstances that worries you, please let a member of the Manchester Cares team know. As you build relationships with neighbours, from time to time they might open up to you about challenges they're facing and your empathy and listening ear will be a great comfort, but in some cases - such as housing, finance, self-care or bereavement - they may need some extra support, so please ask the neighbour if they're happy to share the information with the Manchester Cares staff who will be able to signpost them to an appropriate service. If an older neighbour shares something with you which gives you reason to feel they are at risk of abuse or neglect, or are at risk of other serious harm please do not hesitate to tell the Manchester Cares team. If this is the case, you don’t need to ask for the permission of your older neighbour to share your concerns.


  • How many people are at each social club?

This varies from club to club. Some of our social clubs are deliberately smaller to attract your less outgoing older neighbours, while others – like our annual birthday celebrations and desert island discs club – will have lots of people chatting, laughing and dancing away. But typically there are between 10-15 people for you to get to know at our social clubs. 

  • As a volunteer, what’s my role at a social club?

Your main responsibility is to chat with your older neighbours! At every social club there is a Manchester Cares staff member who may ask you to help make tea or welcome people as they arrive, but we like to stress that the real value for all participants is in the interactions you’ll have, the conversations you’ll enjoy, and the benefit everyone gains from those connections.

The activities are there to attract people along, but the point of a quiz night, for example, is not to win – as with all our activities, it’s way of getting people chatting, letting loose and feeling part of a community.

  • What do I need to bring with me?

Just yourself and your best conversation starters!

  • How do I sign up to social clubs?

Once you’ve been to one of our volunteer inductions, each month (around the 20th) you'll receive an email from us with a link to all of our Social Clubs that month. You simply need to sign up to which you want to come along to, and we'll then follow up with the address and any further details.

Places for social clubs are allocated on a first come, first served basis, and some of the events fill up quickly, so do sign up as quick as you can. 

It’s also worth noting that our emails often end up in junk – we’re working on it – so please do check your junk folder if you haven’t heard from us. 

Otherwise check out our blog where we upload a preview of the clubs planned for that month and give Heather a call or email on 07741 563 686 and [email protected]

  • Can I bring a friend or family member with me?

If a friend or relative wants to volunteer, they’ll need to attend a volunteer induction before joining you at a social club. They can sign up here.

If they’re over 65, please ask their permission to pass on their contact details, and we’ll give them a call, tell them more about Manchester Cares, and encourage them to sign up to some social clubs. 

  • Social media and photos

We take lots of pictures at our social clubs. We share the images on social media and occasionally use them in our leaflets to showcase the joy of interacting with neighbours of different ages.

If you don’t want your photo taken, please speak to the member of staff present at the beginning of the social club you’re attending,

  • What should I do if an older neighbour asks if I can walk home with them?

If an older neighbour asks if you can walk home with them, that’s a lovely sign that they’ve been enjoying your company, but please don’t feel any pressure to do so. Feel free to politely decline or explain that you need to head to another engagement. If it’s not out of your way and you’re happy to walk home with them, let the Manchester Cares team member leading the social club know that you’re planning on doing this, and once you’ve ambled back with them, please don’t go inside their home – even if it means declining a good cuppa. 

  • If I'm struggling to find the time to get to social clubs, how else can I help my older neighbours?

Fundraising is a great way to make a difference to your older neighbours when you are struggling to find the time to join our social clubs. From taking on a challenge, to setting up a monthly donation, to joining one of our events – there’s dozens of creative ways you can support your older neighbours, at times that will work with your schedule.

Head to the Fundraising section of this handbook for more information.

  • I have skills to offer at a social club! Who should I contact?

Whether you’re a yoga teacher, musician, photographer, jive expert or craft extraordinaire, we’d love to hear from you if you have skills you’d like to share at a social club. Our volunteers’ skills and generosity help us to keep our programme diverse. Get in touch with Heather ([email protected]) if you’d like to lead a session. 

If you have any other questions about social clubs, we’d love to hear from you: get in touch.

Love Your Neighbour

Once you have been volunteering with Manchester Cares for a while through our Social Clubs programme you may like to participate in our Love Your Neighbour project as well. This is where we match individual volunteers to individual older neighbours who are often housebound or otherwise isolated, so that you can offer a little practical support around the house, or just a little companionship and company to someone who needs a friend.

Our older neighbours who we engage through the Love Your Neighbour programme may be a little more frail or vulnerable than those who join our Social Clubs. We therefore require a little more commitment from volunteers who would like to support someone in this way. In particular, we need a DBS check before we can leave you alone with one of your neighbours. Although it takes a little back- and-forth and a few documents we can normally confirm a DBS check within two weeks, and we can still make an introduction to someone who we may think is a good fit for you in the meantime. We’ll do this as a team so it’s a nice informal introduction.

In addition, we need Love Your Neighbour volunteers to make a commitment, if you are willing to, to see your new friend once a week. Once a month you'll need to let us know the dates and times of your visits to your older neighbour that month, know, and how they're getting on.

If you would like to be part of the Love Your Neighbour project, please email Vicky ([email protected]) or Izzy ([email protected]who’ll let you know much more.


Fundraising for Manchester Cares is a great way to make a difference to your older neighbours. With all of our events – from runs, to bake sales, to gigs, to pub quizzes, to dinners – there is a fun and vibrant atmosphere. And together, we can tackle isolation and loneliness in the City of Manchester.

How can I get involved?

There are three main ways to help us to make our older neighbours feel valued, vibrant and visible in this rapidly changing city:

  • Make a donation: By giving a one-off donation or regular donation to Manchester Cares, you will be helping older and younger and neighbours to share time, laughter and conversation. This is especially great if you are struggling to get along to a social club. Head to our donate page to see how a little amount can make a big difference. 
  •  Host your own event: Be creative and get fundraising for Manchester Cares! You could join us for Sweet Mondays and hold a bake sale in your office. Or you could host a clothes swap with some friends to raise funds. Or – if you’re already signed up to a challenge – consider fundraising for Manchester Cares. Whatever you choose, it’s a fun way to ensure friendships can flourish across our patch. Email Laura on [email protected] for more information. 
  • Join one of our events: We have a bunch of exciting events and challenges and each and every month for you to get involved in. Check your inbox for our list of forthcoming challenges; there’s everything from half marathons, to swims to walks. Or join us at an event, like our pub quizzes, clothes swaps or comedy nights. Check out our Facebook page to see what’s on.

My company has a charitable arm. Can I get Manchester Cares involved?

Of course! We’d love to work with your business. If you have a charity of the year, please consider nominating Manchester Cares. Or maybe you have a Payroll Giving scheme, and can donate to Manchester Cares through this? Or maybe your company has a charitable foundation to which Manchester Cares could apply for funding.

With any of these, you could help tackle isolation and loneliness across the City of Manchester. And in return, there’d be plenty of ways to get involved in Manchester Cares. From team volunteering days, to supporting us with skills in-kind, your company would really see the difference they are making. Please email Laura on [email protected] for more information on how your business could partner with Manchester Cares.

Anti-Racism Policy

(Content warning: this section includes material which references racism and discrimination, and examples of microaggressions)

Manchester Cares are committed to tackling racism, and to supporting the end of systemic racism in our communities and wider society. We understand that we cannot achieve our objectives – reducing loneliness, improving connection and resilience, and bridging divides in our community – without being an anti-racist organisation.

We strive to create a welcoming and enjoyable environment that is safe for everyone to be themselves. We want to make sure everyone feels valued on our programmes – no matter their race, sexuality, gender, age, ability, or religion/beliefs.

We do not, therefore, tolerate discrimination of any kind on our programmes. If any discriminatory behaviour occurs during a Manchester Cares activity, our staff team will address it swiftly and directly with those involved.

Calling in

Manchester Cares believes in “calling in” rather than calling out racism and other acts of discrimination. This means challenging acts of discrimination as they occur – so long as it is safe to do so – and giving members of our network the opportunity to recognise, apologise for and learn from shortfalls in their conduct.

We encourage all our neighbours to call in acts of discrimination, and even more so in support of one another. In any case, a staff member will address the incident as quickly as possible once they have been alerted to it.

What will happen if a neighbour says or does something racist or discriminatory?

If you witness, are made uncomfortable or are upset by any behaviour during a Manchester Cares activity, we encourage you to let a member of the Manchester Cares team know. A staff member will then swiftly address the incident by calling in the neighbour involved. We will update you on the outcome of this and discuss if you require any further support for the hurt you may have experienced.

If a neighbour says or does something racist or discriminatory, a member of staff from Manchester Cares will talk to them about what happened, either in person or over the

phone. The member of staff will share learning to explain why what happened is hurtful and offensive. This conversation will be followed by a letter or email confirming the outcome of the conversation and how the incident will be resolved, accompanied with further resources to aid their learning.

Any overtly discriminatory behaviour – for example, the intentional use of slurs and derogatory remarks – will automatically result in a temporary or permanent ban from all Manchester Cares programmes. The type of ban will depend on the neighbour’s response to being called in, and whether they apologise and acknowledge the hurt their behaviour has (or can) caused.

Any discriminatory act that is ‘subtle’ will result in a formal warning, dependent on an apology from the neighbour and a demonstrable commitment to learn and change as a result of the incident. Refusing to apologise or multiple formal warnings may result in a temporary or permanent ban from all Manchester Cares programmes.

What is a ‘subtle’ act of discrimination?

Subtle acts of discrimination – also called microaggressions – are remarks, questions or actions that communicate negative or stereotyped attitudes towards people who belong to marginalised groups based on their race, sexuality, gender, ability, age or religion/beliefs. They may be intentional or accidental, but either way, they can be very harmful to people who experience them, and perpetuate systemic discrimination of these groups.

Often people may not realise they are making a microaggressive comment or act. For example, during a conversation at a Social Club, a neighbour may ask another neighbour who is black, “where are you from?” It may be that the neighbour asking the question is interested in where the neighbour grew up or what their heritage is. But asking the question in this way suggests that the black neighbour cannot be from the UK because of their race, and so communicates the harmful – and incorrect – attitude that people who are not white do not belong in the UK.

It may be that the neighbour in this example didn’t mean to cause any offence. However, it is important to remember that the impact of what is said or done is more important than the intent. If you accidentally trod on someone’s foot, you’d apologise, even though you didn’t mean to. Microaggressions are no different.

Other examples of microaggressions include: 

  • Sexual objectification of women, such as commenting on, looking at or touching a woman’s body.
  • Suggesting that LGBTQIA+ people and their personalities, interests or experiences are all the same, such as remarking that all lesbians are ‘butch’.
  • Expecting LGBTQIA+ people to behave in ways that are perceived to be ‘normal’, such as assuming that all people are heterosexual, or believing that people should dress in a certain way based on their gender.
  • Denying that racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination exist, for example by claiming someone is being oversensitive if they are offended by a remark.

Important: the safety part

What Manchester Cares does, and the issues we’re trying to tackle, are complicated. As with every walk of life some of our work may contain risks. Although we have developed a robust risk assessment and policy framework to ensure that, where possible, all potentially harmful situations are avoided, mitigated or managed, we cannot avoid every eventuality – and you are ultimately individually responsible for your own behaviour, possessions, health and safety.

To guide you in case of a serious health emergency, please see the First Aid basics at the end of this Volunteer Handbook – and remember: if someone is in trouble please call the emergency services immediately.

First Aid Guidance

Whilst we would like to provide all first aid training to all neighbours within the Manchester Cares’ network, the cost of the training and the number of neighbours involved in our programmes means that we are not able to do so. 

All Manchester Cares' core staff are emergency first aid trained. If you are in a situation where there is a member of staff present and first aid is required, then please inform them immediately.

Should you find yourself in a situation requiring first aid and Manchester Cares’ staff are not present, call 999 and they will advise you accordingly. 

If you are keen to learn more about emergency first aid then the British Red Cross provide a variety of training options. You can also download the British Red Cross First Aid App. The app provides simple first aid skills and step-by-step instructions to help you provide emergency first aid. Once downloaded, you do not need internet connection to be able to access the content. 

So that you, as a volunteer, are aware of how you can help please consider the following in case of emergency.

The Three Cs

  • Check the surroundings. Evaluate the situation. Do not rush into a situation where you could end up as a victim yourself. If approaching the victim will endanger your life, seek professional help immediately. First aid becomes useless if you can't safely perform it without hurting yourself.
  • Call for help. Call authorities or emergency services immediately if you believe someone to be seriously injured. If you are the only person on the scene, try to establish breathing in the patient before calling for help. Do not leave the victim alone for an extensive amount of time.
  • Care for the person. Caring for someone who has just gone through serious trauma includes both physical treatment and emotional support. Remember to stay calm and try to be reassuring; let the person know that help is on its way and that everything will be alright.

Caring for an unconscious person

  • Determine responsiveness. If a person is unconscious, try to rouse them by gently tickling their bare hands and feet or by speaking to them. If they do not respond to activity, sound, touch or other stimulation, determine whether they are breathing.
  • Check for breathing and a pulse. If unconscious and unable to be roused, check for breathing: look for a rise in the chest area; listen for the sound of air coming in and out; feel for air using the side of your face. If no signs of breathing are apparent, check for a pulse.
  • If the person remains unresponsive, prep for CPR. Unless you suspect a spinal injury, carefully roll them onto their back and open their airway. If you suspect a spinal injury, leave the person where they are, provided they are breathing. If the person begins to vomit, move them over to their side to help prevent choking.Keep the head and neck aligned. Carefully roll them onto their back while holding their head. Open the airway by lifting the chin.
  • Perform 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths as part of CPR. In the centre of the chest, just below an imaginary line running between the nipples, put your two hands together and compress the chest down approximately 2 inches at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths and check vitals. If the breaths are blocked, reposition the airway. Make sure the head is tilted slightly back and the tongue is not obstructing it. Continue this cycle of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until someone else (ideally emergency services) relieves you.
  • Remember your ABCs of CPR. The ABCs of CPR refer to the three critical things you need to look for. Airway. Does the person have an unobstructed airway? Breathing. Is the person breathing? Circulation. Does the person show a pulse at major pulse points (wrist, carotid artery, groin)?
  • Make sure the person is warm as you wait for medical help. Drape a towel or a blanket over the person if you have one; if you don't remove some of your own clothing (such as your coat or jacket) and use it as a cover until medical help arrives.
  • Pay attention to a list of don'ts. As you administer first aid, be sure to be aware of these things that you should not do in any case: Do not feed or hydrate an unconscious person. This could cause choking and possible asphyxiation. Do not leave the person alone. Unless you absolutely need to signal or call for help, stay with the person at all times. Do not prop up an unconscious person's head with a pillow. Do not slap or splash with water an unconscious person's face.

Treating specific problems

  • Cut/gash/flesh wounds. Stop the bleeding first. After you have established that the victim is breathing and has a pulse, your next priority should be to control any bleeding. Control of bleeding is one of the most important things you can do for a trauma victim. Use direct pressure on a wound before trying any other method of managing bleeding.
  • Help a choking victim. One of the ways to help a choking victim is the Heimlich manoeuvre. The Heimlich manoeuvre is performed by straddling the victim from behind and bear-hugging them with your hands interlocked above their belly-button but beneath their breastbone. Thrust upward to expel air from the lungs and repeat until you are successful in clearing the object from the windpipe.
  • Burns. Treat first- and second-degree burns by immersing or flushing with cool water (no ice). Don't use creams, butter or other ointments, and do not pop blisters. Third degree burns should be covered with a damp cloth. Remove clothing and jewellery from the burn, but do not try to remove charred clothing that is stuck to burns.
  • Concussion. If the victim has suffered a blow to the head, look for signs of concussion. Common symptoms include: Loss of consciousness following the injury. Disorientation or memory impairment. Vertigo. Nausea. Lethargy. Signs of concussion should be reported to emergency services.
  • Seizures. Seizures can be scary things for people who've never experienced them. Luckily, helping people with seizures is relatively straightforward. Help the person down to the floor and make sure that the person is breathing. This will help them to calm down. Prevent them from hurting themselves by slamming into anything. As soon as you can, write down any details that might help medical professionals diagnose the situation.
  • Heart attacks. It helps to know the symptoms of heart attack, which include rapid heartbeat, pressure or pain in the chest, and general unease or nausea. Rush the person to the hospital immediately while giving them an aspirin or a nitroglycerin, which the person should chew
  • Strokes. Knowing the symptoms of stroke is important. They include temporary inability to talk or understand what is being said; confusion; loss of balance or dizziness; and severe headache with no precursor, among others. Rush a person you suspect has had a stroke to A&E immediately.

Thank you!

That’s it! Hopefully you’ve had all of your questions answered and you’re ready to get stuck in making friends and tackling loneliness across our rapidly changing city. If you have any questions at all don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0161 207 0800 or email any of the team.

Thanks for joining our community network, you’re the best!