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Unlock assists charity to safely recruit an individual with a criminal record into a volunteer role

At the beginning of July 2022 Unlock was contacted by a disability charity looking for support to recruit an individual with a criminal record into a volunteering role.

The charity explained that they’d been approached by a gentleman who’d expressed an interest in volunteering for them whilst also promoting some related content he’d published on the charities website and social media platforms. The charity were of the opinion that the content was relevant to their aims and could potentially be extremely helpful to their client group. However, the individual had disclosed to them that he had been convicted of a criminal offence and served a prison sentence.

To their knowledge, the charity had never recruited anybody with a criminal record and were keen to ensure that they balance the rights of the individual with any risks to service users. In particular they wanted advice on:

  1. Carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks; and
  2. Promoting the individuals work safely acknowledging that doing so could potentially bring him to the attention of a greater number of people.

Having reviewed the job description we advised the charity that the role would only be eligible for a basic DBS check. However from this, the charity would be able to verify the information that the individual had already provided through his self-disclosure as his conviction was currently unspent.

Although the individual may have given some thought to the possibility of his profile being raised due to his work with the charity, we suggested that a further discussion took place with him. In our experience, individuals rarely consider how they will react to negative social media posts, often assuming it won’t happen, only to become extremely distressed when it does. We advised that thought be given to the individual working in a different name or just being known by their first name. This was standard practice for many advice organisations and could be a practice the charity adopt for all its advice staff.

We also recommended that any direct contact with clients should be carried out using the charities email/social media accounts. This would enable the charity to track interactions and to quickly step-in should it be necessary to ensure the safety of the volunteer or service users.

A couple of months later, the charity informed us that after further discussions with the individual, they had offered him a voluntary role. The charities Programme Lead said:

“We see a wide social value in offering opportunities to people with a criminal record. Working with Unlock allowed us to talk through some of our concerns which ultimately enabled us to offer this individual a voluntary role with us.”

Notes about this case

  1. This case relates to Unlock’s employment project
  2. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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