Return to Scouting

[Last updated 23rd September 2020]

Despite the recent announcements in England (22 September 2020), the government has confirmed that as an essential service, youth sector activity can continue unchanged where groups and units follow Scouts restart guidance, which is in line with COVID secure NYA guidance standards.

We have put this page together to help you prepare for the Return of Face to Face Scouting. Currently we are at Amber which essentially means means that Sections can meet again in small groups once they have fully satisfied the requirements laid out by The Scout Association – full details on The Scout Association website at Bringing everyone back together safely – starting to prepare or www.scouts.org.uk/coronavirus. Basically this involves undertaking a COVID specific Risk Assessment (RA) by Section to satisfy the requirements laid down by The Scout Association. Note: No camping or residential experiences are allowed until we get to Green.

Note: On the 3rd September, The Scout Association indicated some further relaxations within Amber, including the ability to met indoors as necessary (but outdoors is still preferred). Details of this and the latest Scout Association position can be found by clicking here.

First three things to look at to help you plan for face to face Scouting:

The following is some good practice and guidance to help you with your risk assessments in The Malverns District. Start by thinking about your proposed outline Section programme and then:

A. Think about the locations for meetings and events.

Meeting Place owners need to do a risk assessment if they are to be used. This must be explicitly referred to in your RA and (good practice) a copy should be sent to the approver (but you don’t need to formally submit to TSA). Some Units have helpfully included a delineated & marked up map (e.g. taken from Google maps) of the area in the which their outside activities are planned to take place and this can be really helpful in clarifying what is proposed.

There are two real cases of meeting places:

      • Scout Groups with their own premises should do a risk assessment of the premises and/or land before any Section considers meeting there. This should be signed off by the Group Executive. This must be explicitly referred (or included) in your RA and (good practice) a copy should be sent to the approver (but you don’t need to formally submit to TSA). Several Districts are getting copies of these Scout premises risk assessments collected together and held by their approver and this is seen as best practice.
      • Sections / Units / Groups using a third party owned premises again need to get the third parties risk assessment of the premises before any Section considers meeting there.  Again this should be explicitly referred to in your RA and (good practice) a copy should be sent to the approver (but you don’t need to formally submit to TSA). 

If you are using land owned by someone else then you need to have appropriately consulted the land owners risk assessment for COVID. This should be explicitly referred to in your risk assessment and (good practice) a copy should be sent to the approver (but you don’t need to formally submit to TSA). For example, The Malverns Hills Trust have conducted a risk assessment of the Malvern Hills and surrounding commons and published the main items on their website. They had some great information available (at link: https://www.malvernhills.org.uk/covid-19-notice/) but have since changed their website to only contain much less helpful information. If you were planning to use any of their areas of land, you could therefore have referred to this link and follow the guidance that it contained.  The situation gets slightly more complicated if it something like a farmers field – but the Group may be able to put something in place for all their Sections to cover this (see above). The Malvern Hills Trust risk assessment could also be used for similar common areas of ground if the owner / manager has not done their own risk assessment.

If using open areas of land, including common land or hills, how you will ensure that you remain away from other users?

B. A number of Groups have found it useful to produce a general Group COVID-19 Policy and Response to set the framework for all Sections and members of the Group to follow. This can also include things like general arrival and departure arrangements from your normal meeting place, general hand sanitising / washing arrangements, access (if needed) to toilets and arrangements for any Group outside space, e.g. adjacent to the normal meeting place. This is entirely optional, but may help having replicate things for every Section and others who may use a Group’s Headquarters. A map of the meeting place (as above) could helpfully be included here.

C. Each Section needs to prepare it’s own Return to Scouting Risk Assessment for each change of readiness level, e.g. going from Red to Amber and again for going from Amber to Yellow. The risk assessment(s) needs to include the names of all Leaders planned to be involved with the Section programme (or Activity) and a top level summary of the programme (and groups) each week, e.g. small group A: Fire Lighting & Alphabet game at location X and small group B: Semaphore Flags & Throwing at location Y. Note: We do not need detailed programmes within sessions or the written risk assessments that you are having to start to do for individual activities (to be completed by January 2021). Because of this some Sections have found it easier to produce a number of documents, e.g. The Group Policy and Response, the generic Section risk assessment for the readiness level and the planned programme for next couple of months (including Leaders and small groups).

D. The Malverns District Return to Scouting Approver is Derek Barnes (e-mail derek@malvernscouts.org.uk, tel 01684 573478). Derek is happy to look at draft versions of your risk assessments and respond as soon as practical to help you through the process as much as possible. As the Approver, Derek has to go through the Return to face-to-face Scouting Approver Checklist before he can approve your risk assessment – so please help him by providing the information required in your document(s).  Please remember to include your outline programme (with proposed meeting places) and ensure that allow sufficient time for your risk assessment to be reviewed and assessed after submission before your proposed first meeting.

E. Key mitigations at a glance poster. As the full risk assessment(s) for return to Scouting can be quite complex and sometimes long, a number of Units (Sections or Groups) are starting to put together some simple posters to put up at meetings to remind all people present of the key steps and actions that they have to adhere to. Such posters in large writing are seen as a very good idea, particularly at entrance and exit points to remind parents as well as those present .

Good luck. We really want to do our best to help you get Scouting going again face to face across The Malverns. So if there is anything reasonable that we can do to help, please let us know. You can find a list of the currently approved Return to Scouting Risk Assessments on the companion page on our website by clicking here.
For some pictures on our website of 1st Leigh Scouts first meeting back and having a great time, please click here.