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Age UK work towards a world where everyone can love later life. They focus their support on older people who are living in poverty or just above the poverty line

Do your volunteers need to show ID to reassure people that they are part of your organisation? Would you like that ID to be digital - on a phone - instead of a physical card? This Guide shows a way to do this.

Steps to using an app to provide volunteers with digital ID

This Guide assumes the main reason people need digital ID is to reassure people that they are doing legitimate work on your behalf.

The pandemic was one of the main drivers for using digital ID. Digital ID means you don’t have to meet with the volunteer to hand over a card. It can have other benefits too:

  • Reduced plastic use

  • Saving postage costs and admin time organising printing or making up of passes

  • Staff and volunteers don’t have to remember to hand in a pass when they leave

  • Optionally can be linked to other checks you need to make such as right to work checks

Things that you might need to overcome to use the digital process:

  • The people your staff or volunteers are supporting might take time to get used to the idea of checking phones instead of cards

  • Your staff or volunteers might be uncomfortable about giving their personal information to the app

Before the pandemic, Age UK were already exploring whether the Yoti app could help them reduce admin time spent on identification. They have thousands of volunteers. Some of those volunteers carry ID cards as a way to reassure the people they are supporting that they work with Age UK. When the pandemic began many more volunteers also needed digital ID to show that they had a reason to be out of the house during lockdown.

Yoti could provide all the services Age UK needed. It is a UK based company. It stores data in the UK for UK residents and companies.

There are other digital identification providers. But Yoti is the leading UK provider and has government approval, so the rest of this Guide is written as if you are using Yoti. The Post Office has an app called EasyID. EasyID is a partnership with Yoti and uses the same technology.

When you use the Yoti app, personal data is given to Yoti for storage and processing. So if you are going to hand over your volunteers' personal information you must get consent. Follow these steps:

  • Check that you are happy with Yoti’s data protection, storage and privacy processes

  • Set up a data sharing agreement with Yoti

  • Create a simple explanation for your volunteers about what sharing their data with Yoti means

  • Ask your volunteers to agree to sharing their data

Age UK created an explanation of what data would be shared with Yoti. They decided to add information about why this was important. They talked about how it would help the volunteers, the people they support and Age UK.

They created a template that volunteers’ supervisors could send out to get their permission. Volunteers that agreed became part of the digital ID project.

Age UK sent lists of participating volunteers securely to Yoti to create their association with Age UK.

Make sure volunteers know:

  • where to go to download the Yoti app (don’t forget to note if it is different for iphone or android)

  • what it looks like (so they know they have the right thing)

  • how to install it

  • what information they need to give when they open it.

You should also think about what your plans are for:

  • volunteers who need more support to install the app

  • volunteers who don’t have the right kind of phone to use it

Age UK used the step by step guide that Yoti provide. They shared this with volunteers to help them install the app.

You need to make sure you do this before the first visits take place. The more vulnerable the people being supported are, the more you need to empower and remind them to ask to see ID. You will also need to prepare them for the change from cards to digital ID. Make sure that they expect people to show them their phone, so they are not worried by it.

Age UK sent information in advance. They did this in the way that was most likely to reach their service users.

When volunteers join or leave, you need to be ready. You’ll want to promptly add or move them from Yoti. This will help safeguard the people you support.

How much time you need to allocate to this will depend on:

  • How many volunteers you have

  • How often they leave or join

  • The reasons they use the ID (eg is there a safeguarding or other risk that means you need to be really prompt with removing ID)

Age UK deal with a large number of volunteers. They assigned the task of handling adding and removing volunteers leaving to specific administrators. They developed a process for gathering all the additions and discontinuations and sending them to Yoti once a week.

Yoti had one particular issue when this guide was contributed. If someone was using Yoti for another purpose, then they would have to stop using it for that, to allow them to have an Age UK ID.

As more people use Yoti, we expect this problem to be resolved.

Age UK considered that this could be an issue. But it came up rarely.

Further information

Interested in supporting people in the community? We have other useful guides.

Getting started with digital ID and need help understanding Yoti? Get an hour's advice from Digital Candle.

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