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Befriending Service Volunteers: Do You Need A DBS Check?

two volunteers befriending each other

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 three or more 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.

Be sure to get in touch with us if you have any further questions. You can apply for a number of DBS Checks through our simple online platform – most checks are completed within 48 hours. Get started now.

Our blogs are advisory in nature and reflect uCheck Limited’s current thinking about best and common practice in the subjects discussed.

The information contained in our blogs have been provided for information purposes only. This information does not constitute legal, professional, or commercial advice. Whilst every care has been taken to ensure that the content is up to date, useful and accurate, uCheck gives no guarantees, undertakings, or warranties in this regard, or, for any loss or damage caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with reliance on the use of such information.

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