COVID-19 (Coronavirus) community response guidance for volunteers

Vetting and DBS

It is important that good safeguarding practices and awareness continues, even during these circumstances.

Many of the roles that volunteers will carry out in their local communities do not raise safeguarding issues and do not need a DBS check. DBS eligibility guidance can be used to confirm whether the proposed volunteer activities are captured. Under normal circumstances, where the proposed activity is eligible for DBS check it is advised that having volunteers DBS checked is a prudent safeguarding step. However, there is no legal requirement to have a DBS check.

It is not expected that community volunteers will be offering personal or medical care to strangers. These activities should be provided by professionals and the resident would be referred to appropriate health and social care services where this is needed and care is not already in place.

Government advice states that if someone has a DBS check from their current or previous role with children or adults, then new voluntary groups can make a practical decision about accepting this for their new role. Although ordinarily a check for a role with children would not be sufficient for working with adults, groups may consider this is a reasonably safe thing to do, based on the information on the check and the surrounding circumstances.

Where possible refer vulnerable people to help and support from established organisations and charities.

Where we are working with informal community groups to coordinate support, we will provide them with advice about safeguarding practices. As a minimum we would recommend that groups:

  • Ask volunteers if they have been barred by DBS from certain types of work
  • Ask potential volunteers for references as a means of vetting
  • Consider safeguarding practices and adopt simple precautions like keeping records of money spent and providing shopping receipts supports you in helping your neighbourhoods whilst protecting vulnerable residents
  • Ensure that their activities are transparent and trusted by the community they are helping
  • Make decisions about allocation of tasks to volunteers based on knowledge of the individual and the role they will be carrying out

It is important to note that on its own, the DBS check does not mean someone is suitable for volunteering work. It is important that good safeguarding practice and awareness continues, even during these circumstances.

The Government has produced a safeguarding factsheet for volunteers during the COVID-19 outbreak and accompanying safeguarding and DBS FAQs.

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