Our approach to starting in person activities

Volunteers run almost 1,500 activities for people with Parkinson’s, and the people in their lives. In local communities across the UK, lockdown changed or paused many of these, to minimise the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Now, we're sharing the approach to starting some in person activities, safely. 

Meeting others living with Parkinson's is important. Together with volunteers, we transformed support to keep people connected throughout the pandemic. For example:

  • Many activities, from dance classes to coffee mornings, moved online.
  • More than 2,900 proactive wellbeing calls were made by trained advisers.
  • Our Parkinson’s and coronavirus booklet was distributed to those unable access information online. 

A phased approach to starting in person activities

As guidance changes, and life is moving towards something more normal, many people are telling us they’re ready to consider getting out in person again. Others have shared that staying connected through activities online or by phone is enough for now.

So we’re phasing how we start in-person activities. Volunteers and colleagues from across the 4 nations have come together to shape how we’re doing this. 

Recently, each UK country has taken steps to limit how many people can meet at one time. The limit on how many people can meet indoors and outdoors differs in each of the four countries as shown in the table on our coronavirus and Parkinson's page.

In some cases, there are exemptions allowing larger groups to meet. At the time of writing these include: 

There are exceptions where groups of more than 6 people can meet for very specific purposes. These exemptions include:

  • for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services
  • organised sport or exercises classes or licensed outdoor physical activity. This does not include informal sport or fitness activity with family or friends, which must be limited to a group of 6
  • support groups of up to 15 participants - formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.

These exceptions mean Parkinson’s UK groups based in England who were planning to start activities, can continue with the planning process.

There are limited exceptions where groups of more that 6 people can meet which may allow certain group activities to be held. These are:


  • for the provision of voluntary or charitable services 
  • to take part in organised exercise.
  • These exceptions mean that Parkinson’s UK groups based in Scotland who were planning to start activities can continue with the planning process.

Wales and Northern Ireland do not currently have any exemptions that would allow groups to meet. 

Valerie Rossiter, who chairs our Fareham branch, says:
“The needs of people affected by Parkinson’s and the health, safety and mental and physical wellbeing of all volunteers, has been our priority in thinking through how to start in-person activities again. 

“We are no way out of the woods yet, and the next few months will be a constant balancing act to minimise unnecessary risks while doing the things that we need or want to do. I don’t think that I will be back in person with my group before next year, but taking part in UK wide discussions about starting activities and the developing guidance has helped my group make informed decisions.
“I know that we'll need to do things like our coffee morning differently - we can have more than 100 people there usually, and that won't be the same. But, talking with other volunteers across the UK has given me ideas and I hope that we can keep talking and sharing how we're managing our way through this crisis."

Thinking about starting an activity?

If you’re thinking about starting an activity, whether fundraising or a group meeting, we have a range of information to support you through the process.

For volunteers, the resources you'll need can be found on Assemble, our dedicated hub for volunteers, or via your local staff member. 

Get in touch with your Parkinson’s UK staff contact who can book in time with you to look at the information, and support you through every step of the process to get started. Once activities start, including online activities, they can be added to our local support tool, to connect people to the support they need. 

Not sure who to contact? If you’re a volunteer, contact our Volunteering team on [email protected] or 020 7963 9328. Or, if you’re looking to arrange a fundraising event, contact the team on [email protected].