Coronavirus Updates

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - 26 June 2020

As another month under the lockdown rolls by, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. The feedback from young people around the County has been very positive and the importance of social interaction of young people taking part in online meetings should not be underestimated. Thanks to everyone that has contributed to supporting Scouting differently during these times.

I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some essential updates, along with an insight into how Scouting might look as we begin to consider a restart of ‘Face to Face’ meetings (once HQ allow this to happen).

Please remember, that Face to Face Scouting (for adults and young people) remains suspended and will remain so, until we are advised otherwise by HQ.

In this update, you will find information on the following topics:

  • HQ Coronavirus Support
  • DBS Checking
  • Third Party Use of Premises
  • Mandatory Ongoing Training
  • Supporting the Programme
  • AGM / Accounts
  • Funding for Groups
  • Membership Fees 2021
  • Census 2020/2021
  • Getting back to Scouting as we know it

HQ CORONAVIRUS SUPPORT
Throughout the lockdown period, HQ have been providing a wealth of information to support Groups, Districts and Counties, as well as campsites and individuals in relation to supporting programme, managing premises and supporting the wider Scouting community. This information can be found on the Coronavirus pages of the HQ website here.

Additionally, there have been a number of all member calls facilitated by Matt Hyde (Chief Executive) and Tim Kidd (UK Chief Commissioner) and their teams that have been very open in detailing the position of HQ and what can be expected at the various stages of lockdown and how we might return to ‘normal Scouting’. The next all member call is on 2 July. A recording the call on 24 June can be found here .

DBS CHECKING
Since April, DBS checking has been ‘on hold’ as we have not been undertaking face-to-face meetings and as such, these checks were deemed not to be required. Members were asked not to process any checks and any expiring / expired DBS checks would be picked up on restart.

From 6 July, DBS checking will recommence and any outstanding checks can then be undertaken. For those Groups and Districts that have members with expired checks, there will be a 90 day grace period (from 6 July) to catch up the backlog and complete any necessary checks. During this time, nobody will be suspended for having an expired DBS check (and any such automated emails received from HQ should be disregarded).

THIRD PARTY USE OF PREMISES
For those Groups and Districts that own and / or manage premises, it is essential that we consider the requirements in relation to managing access and use by third parties. For example, agreeing cleaning responsibilities and undertaking adequate risk assessments in relation to use of the premises. HQ have provided some good advice, along with checklists that can be used to ensure that we keep everyone safe. More information can be found here .

MANDATORY ONGOING TRAINING
Many of you will have seen the information from HQ (and / or local emails) in relation to mandatory ongoing training and the efforts to improve compliance nationally. I am delighted to share that the position in the County is positive and we continue to improve. Thank you to all concerned for your efforts in helping us achieve the current position.

However, as a County, we are still way above the national average. Please can I ask that anyone that has outstanding (or expired) Safety or Safeguarding training, complete this as soon as possible in order that we can ensure we are in a position to deliver Safe Scouting upon the return to face to face meetings. The training sessions take around 20-30 minutes each and certificates can be sent to your Training Adviser, LTM or your DC for updating on Compass. Links to this training are as follows:

Mandatory Ongoing Safety training
Mandatory Ongoing Safeguarding training

SUPPORTING THE PROGRAMME
We recently held our virtual cub camp which was a huge success with many members and families taking part. Next weekend is the turn of the Beavers, with the virtual Beaverlympics. If you haven’t already signed up for your section, please do so here

We are working with the other Counties in the Region to offer opportunities for online Scouting throughout the summer to support our young people at home. More to come on this once we have the details.

AGM / ACCOUNTS
Please remember that in line with POR, all groups are required to hold an AGM to approve their accounts and must send an approved copy of their accounts to the District Treasurer. (Likewise Districts need to send their accounts to the County Treasurer).

AGMs can be held using online technology and as with most things during the current situation, HQ have provided advice on doing this in the Executive Committee section of the HQ Coronavirus pages .

FUNDING FOR GROUPS
Many of us have had, or continue to have concerns about financial situations of Groups and Districts and for those that were on the recent HQ members call, you will know that they too face the same challenges. We are all doing everything we can to mitigate costs within the County and looking for funding opportunities. Why not see if you qualify for any funding opportunities here .

Remember – Claiming Gift Aid is an easy way to ensure your group maximises opportunities and the process to register and start claiming isn’t difficult at all.

MEMBERSHIP FEES 2021
We announced in the previous update, that the County part of the membership fee for 2021 will be reduced by £2.50 per member (from £8.25 to £5.75) in order to support Groups and Districts through these times.

HQ announced on the all member call this week that they have proposed an increase in membership fees for approval by the Board of Trustees. This proposal is as follows:

  • £6 per person increase in fees
  • £7.50, (£1.50 ring fenced for a hardship fund to support groups with the return of Face to Face Scouting

The final decision will be communicated by HQ in July.

To put this in to context a £6 increase for a section that meets 44 weeks in a year will equate to circa 14 pence increase per member, per week.

CENSUS 2021
The census date will move to 15th October from this year with payment remaining due to the County in March (District payment schedules may vary).

Moving forward the 15th October will become the new annual Census date. This is hoped to help with budget planning activities in Districts, Counties and at HQ.

Please check in with all non-active members to gauge their intentions of remaining involved in Scouting as we prepare for the restart of Face to Face Scouting and to ensure accurate numbers are collected for the October census. Just because we’ve not heard from someone during the lockdown, does not mean that they won’t return – please make contact and remind them that we’re still here and will be looking to restart as soon as we are able to do so.

GETTING BACK TO SCOUTING AS WE KNOW IT
As the lockdown eases, we will hopefully soon be able to start a phased return to Scouting. The current advice is clear though, that there will definitely not be any overnight camping activity allowed until we are into the final stages of the restart (see below).

To ensure we can meet safely when allowed, we may need to adapt and think a little bit differently about how we plan and deliver our programmes.

A Traffic Light system is in place and being managed by HQ to identify the key stages of a phased return. This is as follows:

  • RED – Digital only, as we are now
  • AMBER – Digital and small groups outdoors
  • YELLOW – Large groups outdoors, small indoors – Can start using indoor meeting places
  • GREEN – Overnight and back to normal. No camps until GREEN Digital

Scouting will probably remain a useful tool at least until we are in the green phase. To move from one stage to another, when allowed by HQ, each Section / Group will need to submit a Risk Assessment to their District for approval. Until this has been submitted and subsequently approved, there must not be any Face to Face Scouting undertaken by Sections / Groups (by adults and / or young people).

This guidance may change as we move through each stage of the phased return or venues change. Help and support is available along with required templates via the HQ website here.

AND FINALLY
As always, thank you for everything that you have done and continue to do, supporting each other and our young people through these difficult times. If any of the County Team can be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of us, at any time.

Stay Safe, be kind and please talk to each other – we’re all in this together.

Gary McCune
County Commissioner

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