Missions training summary

This training is designed to let you know what to expect on GoodGym missions and to keep you and those around you safe.

Missions can make a huge difference to people’s lives; helping them solve problems that no-one else can.

You will be dealing with simple tasks that help people in potentially challenging circumstances that leaves them unable to do the task themselves, or for community organisations that need a helping hand.


Missions Training

Missions Training

What are missions?

Missions are one-off, time limited, practical help to an older person, over the age of 50 who can't manage the task themselves. Many missions happen at the weekend.

We are aware of the risks around missions and we want to ensure that missions are safe for both GoodGymers and beneficiaries.

During lockdown we enabled solo missions to minimise risk of spread of infection. Overall this has had a hugely beneficial impact in making it easier to make missions go ahead and enabling support for thousands of older people.

We want to make sure that no-one is put in a situation in which they don't feel safe. We also want to make sure we are able to complete as many tasks as we want.

In response to this feedback, we will now list any indoor or garden mission as requiring one to two people, even when a referrer has opted for one. This will enable those who want to do missions in pairs to do more. It will also ensure that, where we feel a mission is safe for one person, it can still go ahead if just one person signs up.

All GoodGymers taking part in missions must have a DBS check with GoodGym.

Any tools or equipment needed for the mission should be provided by the organisation or beneficiary.

Missions ARE:

  • To help an older person in the local community.
  • Simple tasks focused on fixing a specific problem, such as clearing an overgrown garden, lifting heavy objects or changing smoke alarm batteries.
  • Tasks that last no more than 90 minutes.

Missions are NOT:

  • Attended by a GoodGym trainer or member of staff, but are organised by the central office.
  • A group run - You will likely travel to the location alone, and meet the other GoodGymers (if there are any) at the mission location.
  • Tasks which require a qualified professional, such as electrical works

*This training will help you become aware of what you might encounter on a mission and the challenges you might face. We will provide guidance for keeping yourself safe on missions which we ask you to adhere to. It is essential that you understand that your own judgement of the risks is the most important factor in keeping you safe. *

How we set up a GoodGym mission

GoodGym missions can only be referred by organisations that work with older people, for example, Age UK, NHS hospital discharge teams, housing associations and local authorities. Referrals are made online.

GoodGym has not visited or specifically risk-assessed the place that you are visiting; however, in some cases, an older person may have been visited by the referring organisation. In these situations, the organisation considers that the person and their home are appropriate for a volunteer. However, this does not mean that they are free from risk.

Missions and Risks

GoodGym will always highlight potential risks on a mission to you and provide guidance on the task you are being asked to do. However, because of the varied nature of GoodGym missions, there may always be new and unexpected risks on any mission that you undertake.

It is our responsibility to highlight potential risks to you. By signing up to a mission, you are accepting your responsibility to take steps to keep yourself safe. You are the best judge of your abilities and limitations and we ask you to use your own judgement to ensure your safety at all times.

Below is a diagram to help you assess some the the risks you might encounter and what you might want to do about them: 105105

Risks may present themselves in the following aspects of a mission:

  • Getting there
  • The environment you are in
  • The task you are doing
  • The people you are helping

We will address each of these and provide advice that we ask you to follow to reduce risks and keep yourself safe.

When going into someone’s home on a mission, or visiting a community project unsupervised, you need to be aware of how to continually assess changing circumstances of a situation, in order to know what to do to stay safe. This applies on all missions.

You can pull out of a mission at any time. You will always have the support of GoodGym if you consider that something is too risky and do not want to do it. Always make sure that you take the safe option, even if that means not finishing the task requested.

Getting there safely

Plan your route: Plan and familiarise yourself with your route (the address will be sent to you) ahead of your mission and make sure you take a smartphone (if you have one) or map with you. Try to avoid stretches of road that are very dark and where no-one lives. Avoid parks at night.

Traffic: Running can make you want to cross roads really quickly. Always be careful when you cross roads. Never risk your life at a crossing in order to get a PB.

Take some money or a bank card: This is important in case you have an injury and need to take public transport home.

Let someone know: It is a good idea to let someone like a flatmate, friend, partner or family member know that you are going on a GoodGym mission, and let them know when you are going to come back.

Exchange phone numbers: You will receive the email address of any other GoodGymers on the mission (if there are any) and we recommend you exchange mobile phone numbers ahead of the mission. It will allow you to communicate if there’s difficulty finding the location or someone is late.

Keeping safe at the mission

Don’t enter alone: GoodGym lists missions for different numbers of GoodGymers. If a mission is listed for 1-2 people, then two GoodGymers can go together; however, the mission will still go ahead with one if only one person signs up by the deadline. If the mission has been confirmed for you AND another volunteer or volunteers then do not attempt the mission on your own.

Be aware of the environment around you: No environment is ever free from risk and there may be environmental hazards on the site such as slippery ground, wires, trip hazards, water or falling objects. Always alert other people when you see these things that might pose a risk.

Preparing for differences: You may be helping on a mission in someone’s home. These homes may be extremely different to your own living environment; they may be meticulously tidy, smoky, dusty, extremely untidy or full of clutter. We will do our best to make you aware of the conditions of the place you are visiting but cannot always provide the full picture. Prepare yourself to expect any of the above.

If you have an accident whilst on the way to a mission or at a mission, call the emergency services on 999. If possible, let the other people attending the mission know.

If you feel uncomfortable in the environment, or unsafe, you do not need to participate in the mission.

Staying safe during the task

Manual handling: Some missions may involve lifting heavy objects. It is important that you do not lift anything that you do not think you can comfortably lift. Ensure that you keep your back straight and that you have your feet planted firmly, shoulder width apart. If you experience any pain stop immediately, and be careful not to drop the object on yourself or anyone else.

Tools and equipment: It’s likely you’ll be using some simple tools and equipment to complete your tasks on GoodGym missions, such as shovels, screwdrivers, gloves or hammers. Never use tools that you’re not comfortable with.

Do not use power tools: You should not be using power tools such as drills, chainsaws, band saws, angle grinders or similar tools with sharp or dangerous moving parts and which require protective equipment. You have not been trained to do so and you do not know that the tools are in working order. GoodGym does not accept tasks with these tools so it should not be expected of you. If we are asked to help with a specific task such as lawn mowing, we will inform you of the details of the task in advance and you should only accept the mission should you feel equipped and safe to do so. You can use lawn mowers and strimmers, as these are considered low-risk, and require less skill.

Do not use axes: If you are asked to do so you should decline.

Be careful of blades: You are likely to come across saws, loppers and various types of blades. Always treat blades carefully and do not use the blade if you do not feel safe and protected to do so.

Be careful of those around you: If you are using a tool be careful of those around you. It is easy to swing round, slip or misplace a tool and accidentally hurt another person. Constantly communicate where you are and keep a safe space between you.

Throwing things away: Part of your task might be throwing things away. It is important that you don’t make any mistakes and that the person you are helping is in control, so we advise you to err on the side of caution. Obtain clear instructions and, if possible, consult their opinion and obtain consent for each thing to be thrown away.

Looking out for each other: GoodGym is a community and it’s important we look out for each other’s safety as well as our own. If you see a risk to the safety of another GoodGymer you should alert them to it. If you see someone doing something you consider to be dangerous you should advise them to stop.

The person you are a helping

Be open to the people you meet: You should expect that the people you meet will be from a diverse range of backgrounds and may have sets of beliefs that are quite different to your own. We expect our GoodGymers to treat the people we help in a friendly manner and to respect any differences that exist as outlined in our Equal Opportunities Policy. You will be sent the link to the full policy on completion of this training.

Avoid conversation about potentially divisive topics: As the main aim of the mission is to complete a task, we do not receive detailed information about a person and what might upset them, including what events that have happened in their life that could bring up stressful memories. We suggest you stick to light conversation about general topics. If you touch upon a topic you disagree on, try and agree to disagree and end the conversation.

Respect people’s boundaries: Some missions will be in an individual’s own home. Some people may not have many visitors and may feel sensitive to having someone in their house. Make sure you ask before entering a room or wait until you are invited. Do not open closed doors without being invited to do so. If you need to use their toilet you should ask. Everyone has different personal space boundaries and it is safer to err on the side of caution to avoid causing any upset.

Leave if you feel unsafe: GoodGym will not accept a mission if we think there is a risk to your safety, however no situation is ever free from risk. If at any point a person you are trying to help is behaving in a way that makes you feel unsafe, leave. Inform GoodGym as soon as possible and if it is an emergency call 999. If there are just two of you on a mission, you must leave together.

Don’t attend a mission if you are ill: If you are visiting the home of a vulnerable person they may be more vulnerable to germs. If you are ill and might be contagious, consider the risk to the person you are supporting and think about pulling out or not signing up. Give as much notice as possible to GoodGym if you need to pull out. If you become ill outside of office hours, you should communicate with the other volunteer (if there are any), and agree that one of you contact the older person to cancel the mission and let the office know.

Must do's on arrival

GoodGym checks that the description of the task fits our criteria, however we will not have met the person, risk-assessed their home, or verified their identity. We are unlikely to have an in-depth understanding of their circumstances.

Because of this, it is essential that you take extra care when approaching a mission.

We ask that you follow this guidance to make sure you are safe:

  • When attending the indoor or gardening mission (with another GoodGymer), don't go into the property alone. The first people who enter should check that the house poses no specific risk and alert the other(s) if there are any concerns about the task or any potential risks.

  • Check the name of the person and the description of what you’re there to do. *There might be people present that GoodGym have not been made aware of. If the behaviour of the beneficiary or anyone else makes you feel unsafe, then leave and inform GoodGym as soon as possible. If it is an emergency then call 999.

  • Be aware of other people nearby on arrival, as having help from GoodGym could highlight that there is an older person living in the property.


Knowing the limits of the relationships between you and people you are helping is important, particularly to help protect everyone involved.

Here is a basic set of rules that we ask all GoodGymers to adhere to:

  • Stick to the task you have been asked to do. If you are asked to do additional tasks, explain that you are not authorised to do so and direct the person back to GoodGym.
  • Never accept money or gifts for a task you have completed. It is ok to accept a soft drink and a small snack if offered.
  • Never give your contact details to the person/people you have helped. If they ask for a contact number, provide the GoodGym number.
  • Do not complete a task you are not happy to complete.
  • Never return to complete another task for someone outside of GoodGym missions. If someone asks you to return on another day or to complete an additional task elsewhere you must direct them to GoodGym.

These boundaries are there to support you and keep everyone safe. It is essential that they are followed.

What to do if something goes wrong?

Although most of our missions go ahead without any problems, dealing with an older person means that you can often be dealing with someone who has additional needs and can be vulnerable. So, here are some scenarios you may face:

If the older person changes their mind Even if GoodGym has confirmed the mission with yourself and the older person, they have the right to change their mind at any time about having help. This could be at short notice on the day you were due to do the task, on arrival, or during the mission. We advise that you leave the location, and let us know.

If the older person seems confused about who you are and why you are there Explain to them what GoodGym is and the task that you have been asked to do. We always advise you to wear your GoodGym t-shirt, and introduce yourself using your first name. If the older person does not give you consent to do the task, then leave and let GoodGym know.

If the older person is not in This is something that rarely happens. We advise knocking, and waiting for 10 minutes. Failing that you could try and call the older person, or the alternative contact if provided (always withhold your number using 141 or your provider’s equivalent as a prefix). If you have still made no contact then leave. Always let GoodGym know if you have not been able to get hold of the older person.

If you are concerned about anything that happens during the visit If there is an immediate risk then call 999. If there is something that can wait until GoodGym office hours then there is the opportunity to give feedback in the mission follow-up email, and GoodGym can arrange a phone call with you.

GoodGym does not currently operate an out of hours service, so please email any other concerns to missioncontrol@goodgym.org or phone the office on 020 3642 0997 from 09.30 - 18.00 the next working day.

Confidentiality and data protection

For missions involving an older person, you are expected to maintain confidentiality of the individual. You must follow these guidelines:

  • Never share the address or full name with anyone except GoodGym staff, or the other volunteer(s) joining you.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that any personal data sent to you is secure and not accessible by third parties, e.g location tags on pictures, or noticeable landmarks near the location.
  • Permanently delete any personal data regarding the person after the mission.
  • Ensure that you do not give away their address through GPS tracking (stop at least 500 meters before).

You will be sent GoodGym’s Data Protection and Confidentiality Policy on completion of this training.


This module may seem serious, it addresses important information but don’t worry - safeguarding isn’t a part of the vast majority of GoodGym missions, we just want you to be prepared, in case something does come up.

All staff and volunteers in any organisation who have contact with adults who could be at risk of abuse or neglect have a duty to act if they have any concern that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited.

What is safeguarding?

Adult safeguarding means protecting a person’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

An adult at risk is: a person aged 18+ who is in need of care and support regardless of whether they are receiving them, and because of those needs is unable to protect themselves against abuse or neglect.

GoodGym mission beneficiaries are all over 50 years old and may be in need of care or support if they are not already in receipt of this. This means they may be at risk of abuse. We can play a part in helping to protect them.

Safeguarding processes are intended to make sure that people maintain their choice and control, safety, health, quality of life and dignity and respect.

What is abuse?

Incidents of abuse may be one-off or multiple, and affect one person or more. There are lots of different types of abuse. The Care Act 2014 defines abuse in the following ten categories:

Physical - Hitting, slapping, pushing, pinching, misuse of medication, undue restraint or inappropriate sanctions, exposure to heat or cold and not giving adequate food or drink. Includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not, or could not, consent and/or was pressured into consenting.

Emotional/psychological - Denial of basic human and civil rights such as self-expression, privacy and dignity, threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation, intimidation, coercion, verbal or racial abuse,addressing a person in a patronising or infantilising way, enforced social isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

Financial or material - Including theft, fraud, pressure around wills, property or inheritance, preventing a person from accessing their own money or benefits, misuse or misappropriation of benefits, arranging less care than is needed to save money to maximise inheritance, denying assistance around financial affairs, rogue trading.

Sexual Abuse – If the adult in need of social care is subjected to sexual activity that they did not or could not consent to, including anything from inappropriate touching to rape, the perpetrator is guilty of sexual abuse.

Neglect - Failure of any person responsible for care to provide what is expected i.e access medical care or services, providing care in a way the person dislikes, not taking account of the individual’s needs/preferences, failure to give prescribed medication, poor nutrition or lack of heating.

Discriminatory - Unequal treatment of or denied opportunities to groups or individuals based on characteristics, values, beliefs or cultures. It can be a feature of any form of abuse of an adult at risk, but can also be motivated because of age, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, class, culture, language and/or ethnic background.

Organisational - Organisational or Institutional abuse is the mistreatment or abuse or neglect of an adult at risk by a regime or individuals within settings and services that adults at risk live in or use, that violate the person’s dignity, resulting in lack of respect for their human rights.

Modern slavery - Modern slavery includes human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.

Domestic violence or abuse - Includes any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse.

Self-neglect - the inability (intentional or non-intentional) to maintain a socially and culturally accepted standard of self-care with the potential for serious consequences to the health and well-being of the individual and potentially to their neighbours and the community

How to recognise abuse

Someone might tell you they have been abused however there are occasions when a vulnerable adult might not tell anyone. If this is the case you may be able to recognise signs such as:

  • bruising
  • sudden changes from their usual behaviour
  • anxiety
  • loss of confidence
  • poor hygiene and cleanliness
  • repeated infections
  • reluctant contact with health and social care agencies
  • unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills
  • change in living conditions
  • lack of heating, clothing or food
  • or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts

Who perpetrates abuse

Anyone can perpetrate abuse or neglect, including:

  • spouses/partners
  • other family members
  • neighbours
  • friends
  • paid staff or professionals and volunteers
  • strangers

What do I do if something happens?

What to do if:

  • You witness abuse
  • Abuse is disclosed to you
  • You have concerns

Recognise Looking out for your coach and recognising any changes in their behaviour is really important for picking up on something being wrong. Always act on any concerns, suspicions or doubts. Do not ignore it.

Respond Listen carefully and try not to show shock or disbelief. Use the words that the person has used to check your understanding of what they have told you. If you are in a situation where you have witnessed abuse and feel unsafe, you should remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.

In either case, it is important that you do not make promises of confidentiality. It is always a good idea to try and get consent from the person to pass on the information. However if they decline, you must explain that as a volunteer, it is your duty of care to look out for them and tell GoodGym.

Record Make a note of any times, dates or instances witnessed or disclosed to you. Don’t rely on your memory alone.

Report Tell GoodGym as soon as possible (weekdays 9.30am-6pm). If your concern involves a GoodGym member of staff or volunteer, you can also contact your local Adult Safeguarding Team at the council directly.

If you witness any behaviour by someone else at a mission that is a concern, or the person you are helping tells you that someone has abused them in some way, you must inform GoodGym as soon as possible on 020 3642 0997 or via missioncontrol@goodgym.org.

If you feel that a person you are helping is at immediate risk of harm, in terms of their health or by another person, then you should call the emergency services on 999.

GoodGym’s full Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy provides further details on safeguarding and reporting abuse. We will send you this after you have completed your training.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus safety training

COVID-19 / Coronavirus safety training

Despite all restrictions on social interactions being removed we are still urging caution when visiting older people who may be more vulnerable to the virus. We must do whatever we can to reduce the chance of infecting an older person.

This module covers general points to be aware of. Safety procedures and guidance may change and therefore it is important that you read any specific guidance on the session or mission listing. As with all GoodGym activities you should only do what you feel comfortable with. At any time you can stop or not take part in a particular activity if you do not want to.

Principles and assumptions

In order to deliver GoodGym activities safely, here is a list of principles and assumptions that should guide your behaviour at all times:

  1. Anyone, including yourself, could be infected with Covid-19 and is therefore capable of spreading it.
  2. Symptoms do not develop for an average of 5 days after infection and anyone is able to spread the virus during this incubation period.
  3. Outcomes for those infected with Covid-19 are far worse for older people and those with underlying health conditions.
  4. The virus is mainly transmitted via cough droplets during in-person contact.

COVID-19: General safety and risk reduction

Keeping yourself and others safe

There are some additional safety guidance points you should adhere to at the current time:

  • If you are able, please continue to wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth on every indoor task.
  • Where possible, open a door or window to let fresh air in.
  • Do not attend any GoodGym activity if you are feeling unwell. The key symptoms of a Covid-19 infection are a high temperature and a persistent cough. However, these can vary from person to person.
  • If possible, bring tissues and hand sanitiser with you to every session or mission.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue and throw the tissue immediately into a bin.
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow. Do not use your hands.

For the most recent guidance, please follow: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus (England) and https://gov.wales/coronavirus (Wales).

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