What’s involved in getting accredited?

Approved Provider Standard badgeGoing through APS accreditation is helpful for projects at all stages of their development.

For organisations in the process of setting up a mentoring or befriending project for the first time, APS provides an excellent planning framework. For more established projects, the accreditation process is helpful for reviewing and evaluating existing activities.

In order to achieve APS, you need to demonstrate that your project can meet the 10 requirements of the standard. You benchmark your project against these requirements using our self-assessment workbook. There is an action planning template in the workbook, which enables you to identify the areas of work you will need to focus on to achieve APS. You will have 12 months to complete the self-assessment process and when you fully meet all the requirements, you are ready to request your assessment visit, which is carried out by one of NCVO Mentoring and Befriending’s trained assessors. When the assessment is carried out, projects need to be fully operational and have active mentoring or befriending relationships taking place.

There are just five simple steps to achieving APS

Step 1: Sign up

Check if your project is eligible, and then complete and return a project information form to sign up. When we receive your form, we will get in touch to confirm the details of your project and the cost of accreditation. Once you have signed up, you will be given an assessment deadline date in which to complete the self-assessment process and have received the assessment visit. This will be a maximum of 12 months.

Step 2: Complete self-assessment

Once we have processed your application and received payment, you will receive your APS self-assessment workbook to complete, along with detailed guidance on how to use the workbook. You will have 12 months to complete the self-assessment and return it to us by the agreed deadline.

We encourage you to attend one of our half-day APS support workshops, which ensures you are clear about the self-assessment process and helps you develop your project and prepare for your assessment visit. Two workshop places are available for each project. Projects can also attend a support workshop prior to applying to achieve APS at a cost of £45. If the project then signs up for APS, this amount will be taken off the price of the APS application.

Projects that are registered for APS can book a support phone call of up to 45 minutes. This is an opportunity for you to discuss specific aspects of your application where you feel you need additional information. To book your support call, please contact the NCVO Mentoring and Befriending team on 0207 520 2437 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss possible dates and times. Once booked, you will receive a confirmation email and a member of NCVO Mentoring and Befriending staff will call you on the agreed date to complete the call.

You can also book a place on one of our mentoring and befriending training courses. There is a 20% discount available for projects that have registered for, or achieved, APS and a 10% discount for NCVO members.

  • If, having completed your self-assessment, you feel that your project can fully meet the 10 APS requirements, you can request your assessment visit straightaway. Email your completed self-assessment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and request an assessment visit.
  • On completion of your self-assessment, you may feel that there are areas that your project needs to address before you can satisfy the 10 requirements. In this case, create and implement your action plan before requesting your assessment visit. You can also access our APS support package to help you. When you are ready for assessment, email your updated self-assessment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and request an assessment visit.

Step 3: Assessment visit

Once you have requested the assessment visit, one of our trained assessors will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time and date. We will send you guidance on what to expect of the assessment and how to prepare for it.

The assessor will meet with a range of staff, volunteers, service users and partner organisations during the visit and review documentation being used. Assessments for projects that operate from one site are usually completed in one day. For projects with higher numbers of volunteers, or that operate from more than one site, the assessment will be organised slightly differently and will take longer.

Step 4: Assessment outcome and report

Your assessor will discuss their findings with you, complete a report on their visit and send it to us for verification. Following verification, you will be sent the final report and the outcome of the assessment. There are three possible outcomes:

  • Approved – this means that your project has met the requirements of the standard and can be accredited for three years.
  • Conditional – this means the assessor has identified areas which have not met the standard and need to be addressed before your project can be approved. We will agree a timescale with you for completing any outstanding actions identified by the assessor. In this case, please be aware that there will be an additional charge to cover extra administration, assessment and verification. If a project fails to meet the standard in the timescales agreed then they will need to re-apply.
  • Not approved – this means that your project has failed to meet either the majority, or all of the requirements, or is not eligible. You would have to re-apply in order to achieve APS.

Step 5: Accreditation

Once your project has been approved it is accredited for three years and granted use of the APS logo. You will also receive a certificate and your project will be listed in NCVO Mentoring and Befriending’s online project directory as having achieved APS.


At the end of three years, your APS accreditation expires and we will send you a reminder that you need to reapply. To avoid a lapse in your accreditation, please contact the APS team in good time, before your current accreditation expires. Projects re-applying need to complete exactly the same process as those applying to achieve the standard for the first time (repeat steps 1-5). We will send you a reminder when you need to re-apply.

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