It’s Spring! The bees are buzzing, plants are growing and the sun has started to show itself once again. As the restrictions around face-to-face meetings ease, you might be looking forward to finally seeing your units after a long time away!
Have no idea where to start? Wondering if its best to do indoor vs outdoor? Do I have to wear a facemask? What does Covid secure look like? Do you know your PCR from your LFA? What?
Don’t worry, we are here to help. This handy guide will breakdown the whole process and explain what Girlguiding expects, and what your commissioner will be looking for, in 9 steps!
- Tell your commissioner
- Contact you venue
- Make a plan
- Assess all risks
- Give your risk assessment and plan to your commissioner
- Review your plans and assessment following feedback from your commissioner
- Make sure everyone understands the plan
- Enjoy your meeting
- Debrief and evaluate
Let’s get started….
1. Inform your commissioner
Inform your commissioner that you would like to plan a face-to-face meeting. They will be able to point you in the right direction if you need any advice in the initial stages.
2. Contact your venue
Even if you are planning to meet at your usual place as it offers an outside space, you’ll still need to check with them as they may have new rules to consider. If you can’t meet at your usual place yet, consider whether there is a local park or similar which would be suitable for outdoor meetings.
3. Make a plan
There are a few things to consider to make this happen:
- Talk to your team, are all your volunteers onboard? Does everyone have the right level of safe space including at least one person having level 3? Have any DBS or First Response certificates expired or will they during the term if you are planning a series of face to face meetings?
- Adult:Girl ratios are mandatory for outdoor meetings, do you have enough adults? (This could include a parent rota if needed.)
- Talk to parents, they will have their own concerns and expectations. Will every girl want to attend? How will you provide for those that are not ready to meet in person?
- Where will you hold your meeting? Is it a public space? – if so, it may be worth a visit at your planned meeting time to get an idea of how busy it’s likely to be. Wherever you plan to meet, is there enough room to social distance including when moving around?
- How will you fill the time? Will you be playing games, are you going to do a programme activity or something different? Are you planning a one off meeting or a series of meetings? If you are planning a series of meetings, try to include suitable programme activities – remember there is advice on the Girlguiding website about adapting these for social distancing to help you.
- Will you need to split your unit into smaller groups to ensure everyone can hear you when you are socially distanced?
- If you plan to be indoors, do you have the space to social distance effectively? (The venue may have rules about the maximum numbers allowed in each room which you would need to stick to.) Do you have windows that will open to provide good ventilation or can the doors be safely left open? Does your venue have a QR* code?
- Is your first aid kit up to date? First aid kits have all been provided with PPE gear from County to keep us safe. get in touch with email@example.com if you haven’t received this.
- Are your GO records up to date? You will need the information if anyone develops symptoms during or after the meeting for test and trace purposes. Emergency contacts must be complete for every girl and volunteer and include someone who does not reside at the same address. If you are meeting outside, you will also need to collect consent forms for the girls – one consent form can be used for multiple meetings over the term provided all the information is included.
- How will you evaluate your meeting afterwards? Make sure you include the opinions of the girls and their parents as well as your volunteers.
* In England and Wales, it's now a legal requirement that all meeting places must display a QR code for users of the venue to scan using the NHS Covid-19 app.
Scan the code using a smart phone when you arrive at your meeting venue to log your visit on the app. Only those aged over 16 are able to scan in using the app, this includes leaders and volunteers, visitors and all young members over 16. Parents don't need to scan the code when they're dropping girls off. You still need to keep up-to-date GO records for every meeting.
If you own the meeting venue it's your responsibility to provide the QR code for your venue. See the Girlguiding advice on property management for more information, or head to the government website.
4. Assess all risks
Make a thorough assessment of all risks by using the example risk assessment on the Girlguiding website as a template, mentally walk through your plan considering all safety elements as well as those specific to Covid-19, the links for the risk assessments are at the bottom. You must provide a separate risk assessment for indoor and outdoor meetings and they must be on the official template – no homemade ones;
There are a few things to keep in mind while you do this:
How will you communicate with parents and the other volunteers before, during and after the meeting?
Does everyone know the procedures for arrival, departure and how you will get everyone’s attention during your meeting, particularly in an emergency?
Drop Off and Collection
Will you call them over and release them individually? Where will they stand while you are waiting?
Who is responsible for the register? Your register needs to be kept for a month after the meeting.
How will you keep everyone together as a group whilst also maintaining distancing?
How might you advise the girls to deal with passing members of the public?
Are there any pinch points on the route that need to be noted?
How will you tackle crossing roads together, with distance?
How will your group proceed through gates and doorways?
Equipment for Activities
If the girls are bringing their own, how will you make sure they all have the right items?
If you are providing, how will you ensure safety around cross contamination?
Will everyone need their own facemask and hand sanitiser?
If you are outdoors, you will need to make sure the girls are dressed for changeable weather.
Are you asking them to bring their own drink/snack?
Do you have access to toilets? How will you manage the disinfecting between uses?
Are you asking parents to stay close by to take girls home for toilet trips?
What will you do if someone develops symptoms? How will you manage if that person is you?
How will you protect yourself from Covid when administering first aid?
It’s not just Covid-19
What are the risks associated with your plans that do not involve Covid?
Cleaning resources and venues so that they pose no risk to future users.
Sometimes volunteers will have difficulty with typing directly onto the risk assessment template. Make sure you are using an up-to-date link as those kinks have usually been ironed out. The risk assessment should open and let you type directly into the boxes; they will expand as you write in them so cover everything you can think of and remember to save it with a new name to make it easy to find on your device.
5. Submit your Risk Assessment
Your completed risk assessment needs to be with your commissioner a minimum of 2 weeks before your intended meeting.
Your Commissioner might not be familiar with your venue or section. Try to make it as easy as possible to visualise what you are doing and include your plans. Give a brief outline of your planned activities.
Please let your commissioner know what time you plan to start and end the meeting.
Remember that your commissioner is a volunteer too and evaluating risk assessments is a big responsibility, especially now. Be kind. Any points they make are to protect you if the worst should happen. They have everyone’s safety to account for in a frequently changing climate.
6. Review Your Plans
Your commissioner will come back to you as soon as they can. If there are any advisories act on them immediately. Your meeting cannot go ahead until they have approved everything and said yes.
If you need to change your meeting night or venue you will need to submit a new risk assessment. One risk assessment can cover multiple meetings at the same time and venue.
7. Make sure everyone understands the plan
Does everyone know what the plan is? Have you asked parents to give the girls an idea of what to expect to avoid confusion? Do your other volunteers know what they are responsible for? Remind everyone at the beginning of each meeting what extra rules will need to be followed (e.g. social distancing) – it may be useful to make yourself a list for the first meeting to ensure you don’t forget anything. Have you made it easy to stick to the rules for example by using some kind of visual marker to indicate places to sit?
8. Enjoy the meeting
Make sure you put your plan and risk assessment into practice during your meeting. It’s no good doing all that work if you don’t use it.
If you had a suspected case of Covid during your meeting;
Put on any additional PPE from your first aid kit: apron, gloves, mask, visor
Move the affected person away from the group
Contact someone who can immediately come and collect them
Inform the person that collects that the individual needs a PCR test
If the result of the PCR test is positive follow the guidance below
Report what has happened to your commissioner
9. Debrief and evaluate
You need to keep your register for test and trace purposes for a month after the meeting.
Your risk assessment and plan need to be kept for a year. **
Evaluating your Meeting
Was there anything that your risk assessment didn’t cover that you had to assess in the moment?
What would you have done differently?
What worked well?
Be sure to get feedback from everyone and discuss the points with your team so you can use them when you plan your next meeting.
If an individual has a confirmed case of Covid after your meeting
If the confirmation comes within 48 hours of your meeting test and trace will advise who, if anyone, needs to isolate. There are template letters on the Girlguiding website to tell parents about a positive case as well as templates for if the entire unit needs to isolate – this is why it’s so vitally important that your GO records are up to date for girls and volunteers.
Face to face meetings must be suspended for 2 weeks. If you hire your venue, you must let the property manager know immediately.
Continue to be alert for symptoms, if you start to feel unwell book a PCR test.
Inform your commissioner