Preparing to restart face-to-face scouting safely
From Monday 06 July, scouting in England has moved from Red to Amber readiness level, which means for most Scouts in England you can now organise COVID-19 safe face-to-face activities outdoors only with a maximum group size of 15.
This enables all sections, groups, districts and county to start planning for the phased return of face-to-face scouting over the coming months.
Moving to Amber allows us to begin to return but only in a small way, by introducing outdoor activities in groups. Remember this is not a race, so it is ok to move at a pace that works for yourself, your team and your young people and parents. Some parents might be nervous about allowing their children to engage in face-to-face scouting again. This is understandable and, therefore, it is crucial that we involve them in this process.
An entire group does not need to open or return at the same time, returning to face-to-face scouting can be phased on a section by section basis and not all groups and units need to do so at once. Equally, if you want to move more quickly then, it is ok to do so, providing you follow the process.
It is not the case that a section programme needs to be as it was before lock-down, think about keeping the programme simple. Why not consider activities that you know will work well in an outdoors environment, perhaps on a less frequent basis and within the current COVID-19 constraints? For those of you that have been running section meetings on-line or by other means, I would encourage you to continue with this and introduce outdoor activities alongside as circumstances allow.
It will take time for sections and group volunteers to prepare and agree a Risk Assessment that demonstrates scouting can be delivered safely, in accordance with social distancing guidelines, and has the confidence of everyone involved.
Districts will also need time to put in place their approvals team and processes. Initially this could take longer as they test and evaluate the process and, a backlog of Risk Assessments for approval might introduce delays. For this reason, it is well worth starting the planning now so that you are ready to return when the time is right.
I am sure that as you start to review the guidance and put together your risk assessments for approval, there will be many questions, issues and concerns. Your Group Scout Leader and district team is there as the primary point of contact to help you through this process and to provide advice and guidance.
County team changes
For the county, I have asked David Briston to lead a designated team to focus on supporting the districts and to co-ordinate county activities as we return to face-to-face scouting.
You can also direct your questions to this team at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be aware of the pressures on all of us to make the process as straight forward as possible for everyone and, above all, be patient and be nice to each other.
Key points to remember about this process
- Read all the guidance and steps that need to be taken before any face to face activity can resume. Updates to the material, where appropriate, and FAQs will be posted each Thursday. Always check that you are using the latest available guidance from https://www.scouts.org.uk/coronavirus/
- Most of the restart decisions will happen at group level and must be approved by district, with delegated authority from both the District Executive and District Commissioner. For district explorer scout units, the approver may be within the same district.
- No residential experiences or international trips can take place until after 25 September 2020, when this guidance will be reviewed. This will allow as much certainty as possible for those planning trips.
- Leaders and Executive Committee members must be compliant with the required mandatory training for their role, including Safety, Safeguarding and Getting Started, before resuming face-to-face scouting. Now is the time to get this up to date. Thank you to those volunteers that have already completed this training in recent weeks. If you are unsure about the training required talk to your GSL or Training Adviser.
- Executive Committees, as trustees of your group, (or the District Executive for explorer scout units), have a vital role in checking the risk assessment prepared by section leaders. They therefore need to fully be aware of their responsibilities within this National Framework.
- It goes without saying that anyone who does not follow the National Framework or proceeds without final approval from the District Commissioner, will find themselves in breach of the Safety policy.
Approval process to be followed
The flowchart on the next page provides an overview of the generic process to be followed by all groups, sections and units before restarting.
My sincere best wishes for a successful return to face-to-face scouting in the coming months. I look forward to catching up with many of you at section, group, district and county events in the future.
You are making an amazing difference to the lives of young people in Cambridgeshire, so please accept my grateful thanks for everything you are doing for scouting.
If you want to contact me directly, please do so. I am generally available, so let me have your feedback and examples of best practice to share as well as any issues and concerns you may have.
Yours in Scouting
County Commissioner, Cambridgeshire Scouts
For all guidance and resources on face to face return to scouting click here.