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Volunteering As A Befriender: Do I Need A DBS Check?

person comforting another person

Volunteering as a befriender is a brilliant way to make a difference in someone’s life, and can be immensely rewarding.

According to Age UK, nearly half of all people aged 75 and over live alone. Befrienders help to tackle loneliness by offering companionship to older or isolated people.

But do you need a DBS Check when volunteering as a befriender?

What is a befriender?

Befrienders are volunteers who regularly spend time with a socially isolated person in their community, either face-to-face or on the phone.

When you become a befriender, the organisation you’re volunteering for will match you with a person, often based on shared interests.

You’ll then visit or phone your match regularly, providing company and friendship.

Will I need a DBS Check when volunteering as a befriender?

In most cases, you will need a DBS Check.

There are three different levels of DBS Check: Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Each level has its own eligibility criteria.

In the case of befriending, it’s likely you’ll need an Enhanced DBS Check. However, there are several different types of Enhanced Check.

Anyone who carries out a ‘regulated activity’ with children or adults will be eligible for an Enhanced Check with a check of the children’s and/or adults’ barred list.

The barred lists contain details of people who have been barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults. ‘Regulated activity’ refers to a specific list of roles and activities that a barred person must not do.

What sort of check will I need?

If you’re befriending a vulnerable adult, you’ll be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check. An adult is considered vulnerable if they require the service you’re providing because of their age, illness or disability.

This is not a regulated activity – so in this case you wouldn’t be eligible for a check of the adults’ barred list.

However, if you’re a befriender who also completes tasks such as assisting with cash – or any other regulated activity – this would be deemed acceptable for a check of the adults barred list.

If you’re befriending a child, however, you will be carrying out a regulated activity – so you’ll be eligible for an Enhanced Check with a check of the children’s barred list.

For more information about Enhanced Check eligibility and regulated activity, see the DBS Adult Workforce Guide and Child Workforce Guide.

How do I get my DBS Check?

The organisation you’re volunteering for will organise the DBS Check for you.

Individuals cannot apply for Enhanced Checks for themselves – the organisation has to do it on your behalf. Ask your befriending organisation for more information.

I’m a mentor – will I need a DBS Check?

Mentors are typically eligible for the same type of DBS Check as befrienders.

So, if you’re mentor to a vulnerable adult, you’ll be eligible for an Enhanced Check without a barred list check.

If you’re mentoring a child, you’ll be eligible for an Enhanced Check with a check of the children’s barred list.

Volunteering as a befriender: Find out more

If you want to know more about volunteering as a befriender, check out Befriending Networks for a list of befriending organisations and lots of useful info.

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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