Volunteering for a befriending service is a great way to offer companionship and support to someone who really needs it – and it can be hugely rewarding too.
If you’re thinking about volunteering as a befriender, you may be wondering whether you’ll need a DBS Check.
In this blog, we’ll explain everything you need to know about DBS Checks when volunteering for a befriending service.
What is a befriending service?
A befriending service – often provided by a charity – will match volunteers with socially isolated people.
A volunteer befriender will then regularly spend time with the person they’ve been matched with, either face-to-face or over the phone, providing company and friendship.
DBS Checks for befrienders
If you volunteer for a befriending service, you’ll usually need a DBS Check.
There are three different levels of DBS Check:
- Basic DBS Check: This type of check will show any unspent convictions the applicant has. Basic Checks are available to anyone aged 16 or over. There are no eligibility requirements, and individuals can apply for them.
- Standard DBS Check: A Standard Check will show any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings the applicant has. A person’s job or volunteer role must meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify for this type of check. Employers must apply for Standard Checks on behalf of employees or volunteers.
- Enhanced DBS Check: An Enhanced Check will show the same information as a Standard Check, as well as any relevant information held by the applicant’s local police force. As with Standard Checks, employees or volunteers must meet the eligibility criteria to have an Enhanced Check, and only employers can apply for them. An Enhanced Check may also include a check of the children’s and/or adults’ barred list, if the applicant is eligible.
As a befriender, the type of check you need will depend on your specific volunteer role.
If you are befriending vulnerable adults, you’ll usually qualify for an Enhanced Check without a barred list check, unless you’re also carrying out a regulated activity as part of your volunteer role (more about this below).
If you befriend children, you’ll qualify for an Enhanced Check with a check of the children’s barred list, as a befriending role qualifies as regulated activity in relation to children.
What is regulated activity?
Regulated activity is work that a person must not do if they’ve been barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults.
Activity is considered ‘regulated’ if it occurs more than three times over a thirty day period.
The term also refers to a specific list of roles, activities and professions, which differ depending on whether the person is working with vulnerable adults or children.
For children, this list includes teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children, or providing advice or guidance on health, wellbeing or education. As a befriender for children, it’s likely you would do one or more of these activities and therefore be eligible for a check of the children’s barred list.
You can see the full definition of regulated activity with children here.
For vulnerable adults, the list includes:
- The provision of healthcare by, or under the supervision of, a healthcare professional
- Providing personal care
- Providing social work
- Assisting with general household matters
- Assisting in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs
- Conveying adults to or from places where they’re receiving healthcare, personal care or social work
- Day-to-day management or supervision of anyone carrying out any of the activities listed above
If you volunteer as a befriender for vulnerable adults and also do one or more of these activities, you’ll be eligible for a check of the adults’ barred list.
You can see the full definition of regulated activity with adults here.
Becoming a befriender
If you’re considering volunteering for a befriending service, check out the Befriending Networks website for some useful information and a directory of befriending projects.
If you’d like to know more about DBS Checks for befrienders, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’re always happy to help out.