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1 February 2013
CRB checks are vital, but should be taken in context when supporting vulnerable families says leading family support charity, Home-Start UK.
“As one of the country’s leading family support charities, we currently support 32,000 vulnerable and complex families.
We introduce volunteers into these families homes to offer them emotional and practical support, often at a time of crisis, or great difficulty.
Over a period of time these families will begin to trust their volunteer. We need to be certain that there is no cause for concern on our part.
We have a comprehensive system for recruiting and checking prospective volunteers, of which CRB checks is only one aspect, but nonetheless a vital one.
However, as a volunteer-led organisation, Home-Start believes this information should be used wisely, and not to introduce a blanket policy which would prevent anyone ever convicted of any offence from volunteering with us. We have nearly 16,000 volunteers supporting families across the UK, Some do have convictions.
The CRB system allows us to put in place all the statutory checks that are available. But equally we need to consider the implications of losing potential volunteers who are more than suitable for supporting families. Potential volunteers are required to disclose any previous convictions or cautions when they apply, but these are then risk assessed, and long-spent petty convictions would not be a barrier in most circumstances.
Home-Start considers itself to be reasonable and to seek the correct balance between giving people with all kinds of different life experience an opportunity to volunteer, whilst always ensuring that the families we are supporting are not placed at risk.
We have national guidance in place that says- ‘No applicant or member of staff is subject to less favourable treatment on the grounds of sex, race, marital status, physical or mental disability… or offending background. This commitment is subject to the overriding consideration of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and protecting families supported by or referred to Home-Start.’
Our priority is the families we support and have a duty of care towards
The CRB system allows us to put in place all the statutory checks that are available. Equally we need to consider the implications of losing potential volunteers. Many are more than suitable for supporting families. But may be put off by the fear of a long-spent petty conviction appearing on a CRB check”