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Safety first

Safety first

Even while most of our members have been unable to meet face-to-face over the past year, we’ve made safety and safeguarding our number one priority. It’s at the heart of everything we do, and it’s the responsibility of every Scouts member, volunteer and colleague.

Our Safety Policy and Yellow Card Code of Practice for adults in Scouts clearly outline the commitment to safety and safeguarding expected from all of those in our organisation, making sure they play their part in keeping everyone safe. These are reviewed annually and kept up-to-date with wider sector best practice.

The way our dedicated teams work too, has stayed the same. Our Safety Committee reports directly to the Board of Trustees and is responsible for providing leadership and oversight of our safety policies, procedures and rules. A range of people with extensive experience in health and safety across a number of sectors are members of the committee – Jane Simpson, our excellent Chair of Safety, served her final year this year and we welcome Sharon Lee in her place.

We also have a national Safeguarding staff team which deals with all safeguarding, welfare and suitability referrals covering adults and young people. This team includes ex-child protection police officers, social workers, early years practitioners, probation officers, and education professionals. The wealth of knowledge shared by our safety and safeguarding departments is truly expansive.

In terms of changes, we’ve focused on a review of the mandatory training our volunteers are required to complete in safeguarding and safety, reducing the number of years rolling from five to three. We’ve made sure this module’s delivered online, for consistency of delivery, and that validation requires a 100% pass rate. As part of our culture of learning, we’ve also established a formal learning review panel made up of volunteers with expertise in in this area, with representation across the nations.

Another important change we’ve made is to our risk assessment guidance, moving towards mandatory recording of completed risk assessments and updating the information we provide to volunteers to make sure it’s clear and easily understood. This has been a vital piece of work during the pandemic.

Finally, we’ve continually strived to improve our safeguarding service. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on demand and delivery with staff being furloughed, but we’ve still managed to increase management capacity and oversight in service delivery, and revise service delivery standards.

I’ve been UK Chief Commissioner at Scouts for the past five years. Seeing how Scouts changes the lives of our young people and adults has never failed to bring me joy but my service ends this September, when I pass the reins to dedicated Scouts volunteer, Carl Hankinson. I know Carl is just as committed to the safety of our members and volunteers as I am – they’ll be in safe hands.

Tim Kidd OBE
UK Chief Commissioner, Scouts