Environmental management – guidance

Voluntary bat roost visitor: how to volunteer

Find out what a voluntary bat roost visitor (VBRV) does and how to get trained and licenced to carry out bat roost visits.

The role

Natural England’s VBRVs visit bat roosts in homes, churches and other public buildings to:

  • reassure and educate people affected or distressed by bats
  • advise on timing and methods for building maintenance work and pest control
  • reduce the possibility of bats being excluded from their roosts

VBRVs play an important part in the conservation of bat species. Find out more about the role in the summary of Natural England's bat advice service contract (PDF, 185KB, 8 pages) with the BCT.

How to become a VBRV

You need a level 1 VBRV bat class licence to carry out bat roost visits for Natural England. To gain this you must be trained by a trainer with a level 2 VBRV bat class licence. For more information see bats: protection and licences.

You must be at least 18 years old to train for a VBRV class licence.

Find a trainer

Before registering as a trainee Natural England VBRV you must find a registered/licensed trainer who’s willing to train you. Contact your local bat group to see if they have a trainer. If you’re unsuccessful Natural England can try to find a trainer for you but can’t guarantee to do so.

VBRV trainers will use their experience and judgement to decide if they can train you. They should give you a clear and reasonable explanation for their decision if they don’t want to take you on. If you’re not satisfied with this explanation contact Mrs Chris Bryant at chris.bryant@naturalengland.org.uk or on 07747 456719.

Register as a trainee

When you’ve found a trainer you should register as a trainee VBRV with Natural England by completing a VBRV expression of interest form. You’ll then receive your email induction pack and an invitation to a telephone induction conversation.

Vaccination against rabies

Natural England takes a precautionary approach to rabies. You must be vaccinated against rabies before training or acting on Natural England’s behalf. You must also receive regular boosters whilst you remain a VBRV.

The vaccine is free to general practitioners (GPs) via Public Health England. You shouldn’t pay for the vaccine. Natural England can only reimburse you for GP surgery charges for administering the vaccination.

Your surgery should be aware of the following guidance: Rabies immunisation information for public health professionals.

See Rabies in bats: how to spot it and report it.

Training for a VBRV licence

The bat workers’ manual covers the content of your training.

You’ll accompany your trainer and other VBRVs on a number of roost visits until you’ve the right knowledge, skills and experience to gain your licence.

Health and safety training is compulsory and consists of four modules which you study online and include:

  • asbestos awareness
  • risk management
  • working at heights
  • dealing with aggression and violence

If you’ve done equivalent health and safety training elsewhere, Natural England will consider this in lieu of the online training.

The time it takes to be trained depends on:

  • ability
  • prior experience
  • number and frequency of available roost visits

You won’t be granted a licence if you don’t reach the level of competence or skill required.

Register for your VBRV licence

You must hold a licence to carry out bat roost visits. See level 1 VBRV bat class licence for more details about registering.

A level 1 VBRV bat class licence only covers your official duties as a VBRV carried out under Natural England’s bat advice service. It doesn’t cover any other activities, whether carried out in a voluntary or paid capacity. For details about licences for other activities see bats: protection, surveys and licences.

Further information

See the bat workers’ manual for important information for VBRVs that includes guidance on health and safety when handling bats.

For forms see Natural England’s archived content, which is due to be replaced with a VBRV support area on Huddle, an online collaboration system.

Contact Natural England

For further information about becoming a Natural England VBRV email batvolunteers@naturalengland.org.uk.