Coronavirus/Covid-19

Given HM Government’s announcement that everyone in the UK must avoid non-essential travel and contact with others, all face-to-face Scout meetings, activities and events have been suspended from Tuesday, 17 March. This suspension applies to young people and adults and will be until further notice.

We must continue to respond to the developing situation in a calm, measured and appropriate way. We will continue to follow official guidance. The safety of everyone involved in Scouts, both young people and adults, is our number one priority. That is always at the heart of our decision making.

If you are involved in organising any future Scout events, you will now need to review these plans and risk assessments, given the suspension of activities.

Processing Disclosure and Barring Service applications and re-checks

While all face-to-face Scout meetings and activities across the UK are suspended, our national headquarters have taken the decision to stop processing disclosure applications and re-checks. This will be the case until the suspension of meetings and activities is lifted. For a copy of the full announcement, which has already been widely circulated, click here.

The Safeguarding Team at Gilwell Park have issued some updated guidance on https://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/search/?cat=299,304. Whilst all face-to-face Scout meetings, activities and events are suspended, the Team are aiming to keep their service ‘business as usual’ as far as possible. As part of this approach, the Team suggest that Commissioners and others use technology available to them to continue with necessary parts of the safeguarding process other than DBS applications. Click on the link for full details.

Scout Shop

Our District shop is closed until further notice.

Governance

The suspension of face-to-face activities will affect meetings for Executive Committees and, potentially, Annual General Meetings. Executive Committee meetings can be held by telephone conference or video conference instead of face to face, if decided by the Chair. Votes will only be effective if 75 pr cent of the members of the Commttee have voted. Group Scouters’ Meetings and similar meetings can also be conducted very effectively online.

Any charity that needs an extension to their annual return deadline should contact the Charity Commission to ask for one. Please see their guidance here.

Online group calls/video conferencing

There are many packages available to help you operate online. Often, computer users have access to Skype, where you can have a group call of up to 50 people. Other services are:

All these have free versions (although you get better service if you pay a subscription). Microsoft Teams – part of Office 365 – also handles conference calls, but there is no free version. However, Office 365 is available to registered charities at no cost but requires considerable setting up before it can be widely used.

At all times, please make sure you comply with our safeguarding requirements where young people are taking part in online activities.

Premises

If you own or lease your own premises, remember to do things like:

  • Throw away perishable food items from the fridge
  • Notify the alarm company that the building is not expected to be in use.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are shut and locked
  • Take out any rubbish
  • Unplug electronics
  • Close blinds and curtains
  • Keep the heating running at a low level.
  • Drain and shut off the water system before you lock up.
  • Ask someone to check in on the building every once and a while

If your Group gets an income or rent from others using your building and you have property and equipment insurance through Unity you can read their blog for more information.

Travel insurance

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation may have implications for your travel insurance. Check with your insurers directly about the levels of cover. If you have taken insurance through Unity, they have provided an update here.

As well as the Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) webpage, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website has the latest information, guidance and travel advice, along with details of any restrictions – which must be followed.

Scout Information Centre

The Scout Information Centre will only be able to deal with emails and web chat until further notice. As you can imagine, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of enquiries at the moment, so please use the Government guidance as your primary reference where possible.

Doing our bit

In challenging times like these, our Scout values matter most. Headquarters staff are talking to the Government and other community organisations to see how Scouts can support our country during this crisis. We must make sure that we do this in the safest possible way, and don’t put anyone at further risk.

Cheshire West and Chester Council have published on their website (here) a means for volunteers to pledge their support for local communities, helping to make sure west Cheshire’s most vulnerable residents have access to things like essential food and medical supplies, as well as somebody to keep in touch with during any periods of self-isolation. Have a look – and help if you can during the current challenging environment.

Scouting at Home

We shall be sharing ideas on activities for young people to do at home with their parents. Look out for this here.

Thank you

A big thank you from Tim Kidd, our UK Chief Commissioner and from Alan Wilding and the Chester team for everything you do for Scouts. By checking and following the latest Government advice and by taking a calm and measured approach, we can continue to ensure that young people and adults stay safe.

This is a complex time for our entire Scouting family and we all need to hear each other’s voices and to stay engaged as much as possible with our youth members and volunteer colleagues during this unique situation. Click on the Scouting at Home link below for ideas.

We are all in this together and the District Team are here to support you. The Team willl be checking in with all Groups and Sections frequently throughout the suspension period and will take all possible steps to help support you and your teams.

Click below for:


Safeguarding and Safety

Young people or their parents/carers can make a report to the police in the UK about inappropriate sexual contact online such as ‘grooming’. See the CLICK CEOP button below.

Safeguarding in the Scouts

Adult volunteers who participate in regulated activity require a disclosure check. The Scout Association has reviewed all volunteer roles against the criteria for regulated activity which is defined as:

Teaching, training or instruction of children, carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on four or more days in a thirty day period, or overnight

Or

Day to day management or supervision on a regular basis of a person providing this activity which would be regulated if unsupervised

Some roles fall outside regulated activity and do not require a disclosure check. The remainder meet the requirements of the legislation and will require an appropriate level of disclosure check. Compass helps to automate this process: when an adult volunteer is assigned a role it will know what checks need to be processed. Renewal reminders will also be automated for those roles that require it.

Adult volunteers who work with vulnerable 18-25 year olds in Scouting need a disclosure that is checked against both the adult and child register. This can be arranged on that volunteer’s behalf by contacting vetting@scouts.org.uk.

When a new adult is entered onto the system there will be two options for disclosure checks. If the applicant does not have any identification documentation with them and they have an email address then they can be sent an email with a temporary username and password which allows them to log into the disclosures system and choose the identification documentation they have available which meets the minimum requirements. Once they have selected sufficient identification the system will inform them of this; they can then arrange a meeting with the person initiating the disclosure who will then check and verify the identification documents. The other option is to enter the details straight away if the applicant does have their identification documentation with them.

Safeguarding downloads

Carry the yellow card with you and make sure you follow its guidance on our safeguarding policy. You can download a copy of the card using the link below – and copies are available at the District Centre.  Click on the links below for more resources.

Beat bullying

BeatBullying has partnered with The Scout Association on an exciting new anti-bullying initiative. As part of this, through  an easy two-stage process, BeatBullying will train Section Leaders to become  BeatBullying Champions, providing them with the tools and resources they need to  keep their young people safe, and empower them to take positive action to help  make bullying unacceptable. Read more »

Safe Scouting

Carry the purple card with you and make sure you follow its guidance in an emergency. Contact the District on 07736 430660 if you are dealing with an emergency. Copies are available at the District Centre or you can download one from here.

You can also download copies of the Staying Safe checklists for Leaders, Managers and Executive Committees:

Risk Assessment

Scouting and Alcohol

The green card provides a checklist on our policy on alcohol for all adults in Scouting. Pick up a copy at the District Centre or you can download one from here.

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls