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COVID-19 – Volunteering in Your Community

As the coronavirus outbreak places a strain on healthcare services to maintain support for those in need, people throughout the UK are signing up to volunteer in their community to help those who are particularly at risk.  

The DBS have released information to address specific concerns that people involved in supporting their community may have at this time. This is to help ensure everybody who is willing to give up their time to help the needy are well-informed and are assisted with any questions surrounding DBS Checks and community volunteering.

We've highlighted the key points in this blog...  


Applying to be a Community Volunteer  


Do I need a DBS Check to volunteer? 

Ultimately, this is down to the Volunteer Organiser to decide whether you need a DBS Check to perform your volunteer role.  
Most roles that require an Enhanced DBS Check within the health and social care sector are carried out because the applicant is likely to be dealing with vulnerable groups (i.e. children and or vulnerable adults) and will have unsupervised contact with them. Since these roles should only be performed by those who are professionally trained, Community Volunteers are unlikely to have unsupervised contact with vulnerable groups and therefore should not require an Enhanced DBS Check. If a Community Volunteer is performing roles such as the picking up and dropping off of goods to somebody in need, they would only be eligible for a Basic DBS Check.  

Will my criminal record prevent me from volunteering? 

If your Volunteer Organiser decides that they would like you to complete a DBS Check, you would be able to disclose anything that you have on your criminal record with them. It is the down to the Recruitment Decision Maker to decide whether they allow you to volunteer following the disclosure of your criminal record.  

If you are on the Child or Adult Barred Lists, this instantly prohibits you from working in a volunteer role that involves children or vulnerable adults.  

I had a DBS Check done recently for another job role, can I use this?  

If you have recently completed a DBS Check (i.e. in the last 3 years), you should notify your Volunteer Organiser of this and it may help them come to a decision about your suitability for the role much quicker. 

Will I need a DBS Check to assist somebody with medical care? 

If somebody you know requires medical care, this should be provided by trained professionals and not by a Community Volunteer. You may want to put them in contact with the relevant health service who will be able to support them.  


Organising a community volunteer group 


When organising a community volunteer group, do I need my volunteers to be DBS Checked? 

It is not a legal requirement to have a Community Volunteer DBS Checked so it is ultimately the Volunteer Organiser’s decision. Due to the types of roles that Community Volunteers are completing at this time, the DBS confirm that they do not raise safeguarding concerns.  

However, if you want to be sure that the roles your Volunteers are undertaking do not raise safeguarding concerns, please see our eligibility guidance to confirm whether they are performing roles that would normally require a DBS Check. If they are eligible, then you may want consider requesting a DBS Check. If you are still unsure, please speak to a member of our team on 01254 355 651.  

If you choose not to have your Community Volunteers DBS Checked, you must still ensure that you undertake any necessary risk assessments at a local level. You must also ensure Volunteers follow recent government guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, i.e. no gatherings of more than 2 people at once and everybody should stay 2 metres apart unless they are from the same household.  

Do volunteers carrying out activities that involve vulnerable people, such as looking after children, need DBS Checks? 

According to current government guidelines, face-to-face contact with other people should be avoided as much as possible.  

Any personal care with vulnerable groups (e.g. children) should be performed by trained professionals. If your Volunteer is trained with the appropriate skillset, you can apply for a Volunteer Enhanced DBS Check, as long as they meet both Volunteer and Enhanced DBS Check eligibility requirements. 

If you are still unsure which DBS Check your Volunteer is eligible for, please speak to a member of our team on 01254 355 651 who will be more than happy to assist you with your query. 

My Volunteers have recent DBS Checks from a different organisation, do they still need a DBS Check for my organisation?  

A DBS Check from another organisation, if the applicant is performing the same (or similar) role, will disclose the same information from an applicant’s criminal record. However, since any new convictions wouldn’t show on an old DBS Check, it is ultimately down to the Recruitment Decision Maker to decide whether they’re suitable for the role.   

My volunteers have already had DBS Checks with my organisation, but the activity in their roles have changed, do they need a new DBS Check? 

Eligibility for different levels of DBS Check depends on the job role that the applicant is applying for. Whether your applicant requires a higher level of DBS Check depends on whether their new activities now meet new eligibility criteria.  

For example, if a Volunteer’s job role usually includes tasks such as driving adults to and from a hospital, they would be eligible for a Basic DBS Check. However, if new demands mean they must volunteer to look after children, they would now be eligible for a Volunteer Enhanced DBS Check.  

It would be recommended that the Volunteer Organiser ensures that the Volunteer has the correct level of DBS Check for their new job role, but it is ultimately their decision whether they accept the Basic DBS Check to assess suitability for the new job role.  

You can find out more about eligibility for different types of activities in our eligibility guidance here.   

When do DBS Checks expire? 

DBS Checks do not have an expiry date.  

Once a DBS Check has been completed, the DBS certificate will disclose any criminal as of the day of completion, any criminal record after that date would not appear on the DBS Certificate.  

The DBS recommend that you ensure the applicant’s previous DBS Check is recent (within the last 3 years) when making a decision about their suitability for the role.  

Once the DBS is complete, applicants may also sign up to the Update Service within 30 days of the certificate being issued. This is free for Volunteers and it allows the employer to check the status of an applicant’s DBS Check live (with their permission).  


See the full DBS Factsheet here