Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 16 April 2020
The County Team and I continue to be amazed by the great work taking place to continue Scouting throughout these difficult times. Be it the Zoom meetings that groups are holding online, or the continuous stream of pictures showing young people completing activities at home, all in the spirit of Scouting.
Today I want to provide an update (albeit quite a long update) on some key areas and hopefully answer some of the questions being raised by volunteers both locally and further afield.
You can keep up to date, or read previous updates here.
As a number of sections are now holding online meetings, which is absolutely fantastic where people feel able to do so, however, please be mindful of the reminder of safety ratios from HQ.
There must be at least two adults present at all times during any online activity. Ideally, both adults should be Scout volunteers, but you can use a parent rota to support as you might normally do. Young people must never be left in a one-to-one situation with an adult. This protects us all and also ensures that young people understand that even in these difficult times, the Scouts take safeguarding seriously. The yellow card still applies.
This week there will be an email from HQ about supporting the programme in the current times which will include support information for nights away (at home), the young leaders scheme, as well as flexibility and discretion for top awards and transition between sections to name a few.
You may have also seen that the fantastic programme created for Indoor Scouting even made an appearance on The One Show last week with Scout Ambassador, Tim Peake
The Events team are looking at our events that have had to be cancelled this year and what we can do to deliver these in the future. We’re also looking at opportunities for events when normal Scouting restarts too, although until we have a date for this, any plans will be provisional.
More to come on both of these in a future update.
Following the announcement from HQ, the processing of DBS checks has been suspended for the current time. Once there is a plan for ‘face to face’ Scouting to continue, these will resume and there will be a grace period in order to catch up any that are outstanding from this time.
Finances (and Membership Fees)
The County have paid all rebates to Districts and I am sure that where applicable, they will be busy passing them on to the groups too.
Following on from my previous announcement, Group Scout Leaders should have received an example letter that can be adapted to send to parents regarding finances and supporting group costs. Some groups continue to charge membership fees, some charge reduced fees and others are not charging. This will depend on what you’re doing locally (for example, if the section is still meeting online or whether you have fixed costs that need to be met in these unusual times). Naturally, at all times we need to be sensitive to the individual needs and demographics of parents, but we are supportive of all actions taken by Groups and Districts
It was the plan for the County Membership Fees to increase by a further 25p this year, to £8.50 (net) and a further discussion for this is planned at the forthcoming County Executive Meeting in May, where we will be looking at our financial situation in more detail along with the projections for the coming year.
It is likely that we will see an increase in the HQ membership fees due to ongoing rising costs (as described in my previous announcement) and we should, where possible plan for this too. For info: HQ has furloughed a large number of staff in order to further reduce their outgoings which may result in a delay in services provided centrally. Key departments are still available obviously.
As a County we continue to reduce our costs wherever possible, and look for any funding opportunities that can help us (and ultimately help your groups and sections). I recently suggested to the County Executive Committee that we need to look at this in more detail and see if there are opportunities for us to be able to support sections and groups in these difficult times. Obviously I can’t make any promises at this stage, but I can promise you that we’re doing everything that we can to minimise all costs and seek out all funding opportunities available to us.
Lastly on this, there is soon to be a survey sent by HQ in relation to our financial situations and challenges, which will in turn support senior members of The Scouts who are working with the Government to provide key information from our local groups and ultimately seek out any further opportunities for Scouting both locally and nationally. When this arrives, please take the time to fill it in.
You may have seen communications from Tim Kidd (UK Chief Commissioner) regarding training and the need to ensure that all of us have up to date mandatory training (essentially Safeguarding and Safety), both of which can be completed online.
For those in trustee roles, a similar email is being sent in relation to those that have outstanding training for Module 1E, Essential Information for Executive Committee Members.
Anyone who needs to complete this training will have (or be about to) receive and email from HQ with the appropriate information and links to complete the training and submit their certificate(s).
There have been some really positive results from the training updates, so please can I ask that we keep this up and ensure that any outstanding online training is completed wherever possible.
Locally, we are looking at opportunities for alternative ways to deliver some modules, the first of which took place over the Easter weekend, thanks to Tom Harrison (Beverley & Hornsea District) who delivered the ongoing Safety Training as an alternative to the online version
Thank you all for everything you are doing. Please remember to keep in touch with each other and most importantly, stay safe! As always, if there's anything you need, the County Team and I are available to help and support wherever we can.