Guidance and support for frequently asked questions (FAQ's)
Last reviewed: 22 May 2020 at 9:45
The Government has said that everyone in England should:
We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
However, everyone in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales should still:
Stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home).
- If you go out, stay two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times.
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Please check the government website in your country for the latest guidance.
Given the Government’s guidance, all face-to-face Scout meetings, activities and events have been suspended from Tuesday, 17 March 2020. This suspension applies to young people and adults, and will be until further notice.
We will continue to follow official guidance. The safety of everyone involved in Scouts, both young people and adults, is our number one priority. That is always at the heart of our decision making.
I want to say a big thank you for everything you do for Scouts. By checking and following the latest Government advice and by taking a calm and measured approach, we can continue to ensure that young people and adults stay safe.
Tim Kidd, UK Chief Commissioner
Like many charities and organisations during this challenging time, a significant number of our staff are being furloughed. Our offices are also closed to keep people safe. However a reduced staff team is still supporting members and offering essential services from home. Thank you for your patience if it takes a little while longer to respond to your enquiries. Here's an update on how this arrangement affects some of the key services we offer:
- Scout Information Centre: Still supporting members but with a reduced capacity, offering: web-chat and email only
- Scouts Awards Team: Closed until further notice; all quarterly awards mail-outs have been delayed.
- Scout Store: Operating, but online orders only
- Safeguarding: Still running essential services bit with reduced capacity
- Scout Adventures: Closed until further notice; customer services still available but with reduced capacity
- Conference Centres: Closed, but customer services still available with reduced capacity
- Gilwell Park Hotel: Closed, but customer services still available by email
- Scout Association Trust Corporation (SATC): Operating, but please expect delays due to physical access to deeds and documents being limited
- Scouts Scotland: Closed, with many staff furloughed. However, you can still contact them through firstname.lastname@example.org or find individual contacts on the who’s who page. Find out more here.
If you have any enquiries related to an existing booking or a new one please, in the first instance, email email@example.com. Our phone lines are currently not being monitored.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to change the way that we work, as well as change the ways we deliver Scouts. We are working hard to make sure that we are supporting our members in the best way that we can. Staff shortages across the organisation has also affected the way we work, and because of this, we need to pause on posting out some of our printed materials and publications from Scout Store.
Most of our resources are now only available by download only from Scout Store. However, we have aimed to keep essential documents available to order (like the Yellow and Purple cards), and we will be reviewing the availability of all materials ahead of face-to-face Scouts starts again. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, but as always, thank you all for your patience and support at this time.
For further information, please visit their website.
Scouts at home
We’ve pulled together some inspiring indoor activity ideas to keep young people learning new skills and having fun now that schools are closed. Take a look at scouts.org.uk/the-great-indoors and feel free to share the activities with your team, friends and family as they’re not just for Scouts. Over half a million people have visited the site so far, which is fantastic and our posts to support #TheGreatIndoors have been seen by nearly 3.5 million people. We’ll be continuing to post activities to do in #TheGreatIndoors on social media over the coming days, weeks and months.
- Twitter @UKScouting
- Facebook @scoutassociation
We also have an area to support members at home. Please see here for more, especially on how to do this safely.
Check out the activities page which has loads of activities for Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers.
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 would normally do. Young people must never be left in a one-to-one situation with an adult. This protects us all and underlines our commitment to effective safeguarding.
There are various platforms you can use to communicate with young people and families online. They’re all slightly different with different features, and most importantly, different levels of security and privacy. Be sure to check the minimum age requirements.
Throughout our history, Scouts have helped other people and supported their communities in times of crisis. Find out how you can play your part by supporting young people and the community during the coronavirus crisis.
If you're thinking of producing a local badge, please read these instructions carefully first.
- Groups, Districts and Counties may produce a badge locally to support fundraising, online events or activities, but it must be clearly identified as a local badge (featuring your Group, District or County name) and have the permission of the relevant local commissioner.
- Please note however that no badge should be named or styled after the Coronavirus or COVID-19 illness, as this would be inappropriate.
- Any badge which uses Scout Trade Marks and is intended to be distributed nationally must first have written permission of headquarters as per Chapter 14 of POR.
We are working on a national occasional badge to support Scouts at home - details will be included in our normal communications when this is ready.
Everyone is hoping for things to get back to normal as soon as possible, but unfortunately, no one knows when this will be. We still need to closely follow Government advice before face-to-face Scouting can resume, and we also need to ensure the safety of all of our members and their families before this can happen.
Even when restrictions do start to lift, we need to consider that parts of the UK may be able to lift lockdown before others, and if this happens, we will need to assess whether or not face-to-face Scouting can resume in these areas. At this stage, Counties must seek approval from their County Commissioner, who will then seek authorisation from Headquarters via their line manager. This includes; face to face meetings, activities, events and trips for both young people and adult volunteers.
Face-to-face Scouting may not resume until schools re-open, but even then, we will need to risk assess whether this is the best way forward. We will not necessarily start up again at the same time as schools.
We are monitoring the situation, and will be updating information following Government guidance. No decision can be made to resume face-to-face Scouting until it is safe to do so.
In the meantime, thank you all for your patience, and your efforts to continue Scouting during these challenging times.
Given the latest Government guidance, we are cancelling the following events:
- Day of Celebration and Achievement at Windsor
- Beaver and Cub Fundays at Gilwell Park and Woodhouse Park
- Gilwell 24
We have communicated to specific audiences about these event cancellations directly.
If you or your team are involved in organising any future Scout events, you will now need to review these plans and risk assessments given this new guidance. If they are set to take place in the next few months, you will now need to consider cancelling or postponing, depending on the timing of your event. If you have event insurance through Unity, they have provided an update here.
The organisers of the European Jamboree 2020 in Poland have decided to postpone this year’s event until 2-13 August 2021. You can find out more here, and if you have any questions please submit them to us, instead of emailing the event organisers.
If applicable, we suggest you regularly check the websites of relevant large-scale events for specific updates from the organisers.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel worldwide which could require changes to your travel plans. Please read the the latest information, guidance and travel advice, along with details of any restrictions – which must be followed.
Membership fees and financial support
While our face to face meetings and activities are suspended, you'll know that you will still need to cover fixed costs. Your District, County and national services are facing the same challenges. We will still need to collect the full membership fee for each young person because these costs are fixed. They cover vital services such as insurance, safeguarding, legal protection, and the development and support of our programme.
Groups and Districts in some areas may have financial reserves or plans in place already to cover such costs, others may not. We know that some Groups will be concerned about covering costs in the next few months. One way you can address this is to explain to parents and carers how helpful it would be if they make a financial contribution for the summer term, even when you aren't meeting face to face. We think most parents and carers will be happy to make a contribution to cover these essential costs, if you have not collected subs for the whole year already.
Group Scout Leaders, Treasurers and Chairs have been sent an email with guidance on this.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a period of uncertainty for many charities and organisations. There are now a number of alternative funding packages that youth organisations may now be eligible for. Find out more on funds or grants you may be able to apply for if your Group needs extra financial support during this challenging time.
Any charity that needs an extension to their annual return deadline can contact the Charity Commission to ask for one. Please see their guidance here.
We have approved an amendment to the standard constitutions in Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) which allows meetings to be held remotely. It also allows decisions to be made electronically. This is valid immediately and will be updated a future update to POR. The wording is as follows:
- Electronic voting (such as email) is allowed for decision making of the County/District/Group Executive Committee and its sub-Committees when deemed appropriate by the Chair. In such instances at least 75% of committee members must approve the decision.
- The County/District/Group Executive Committee and its sub-Committees can meet by telephone conference, video conference as well as face to face in order to discharge its responsibilities when agreed by the appropriate Chair.
We'd recommend that Counties/Areas, Districts and Groups in England and Wales should follow the advice from the Charity Commission which is summarised below.
15/05/20 The Charity Commission have provided the following information in relation to holding an AGM during this crisis.
Coronavirus is having a major impact on charity events and the government’s health advice may lead to some charities having no choice but to decide to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings. The charity as far as possible should be acting in accordance with the governing document. However, the Commission understands that the charity may not be able to fully comply with the governing document during this current crisis.
- If the trustees, decide it is necessary to hold the AGM by electronic means, they should record this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity.
- The trustees must assess the risk in postponing the AGM or holding a meeting by another means. They should communicate the decision with the members where practical to do so e.g. via telephone or post or email.
- As a regulator of charities, the Charity Commission will not be taking regulatory action, if the charity has demonstrated the reason for holding a meeting outside of the governing document or postponing the AGM during a pandemic is in the best interest of the charity.
- If decisions are made by a meeting held which are not in accordance with the governing document, the Charity Commission advises the trustees clearly record the decision.
- The Trustees may also wish to think about whether there are any wider or longer impacts of their decision that may need to be considered (independent of the regulator) for any actions during this time.
Please remember it is the responsibility of the individual Charity Trustees to decide what is the best course of action to take for their Charity.
The Government also has some practical advice for Executive Committees. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has also published some useful guidance to help Executive Committees consider how they can best support members locally during this time. These both cover issues such as AGMs, remote meetings and other matters. You can read this guidance here.
Charities in Scotland should refer to the advice provided by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which can be found here.
Charities in Northern Ireland should refer to the advice provided by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland which can be found here.
Annual Report submission
Wherever possible, the Charity Commission asks all Charities to try to get their annual reports submitted on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date may request a filing extension by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Delaying the AGM does not stop the submission of the Annual report, which is approved by the Trustees and only adopted at the annual general meeting.
If your Group receives an income or rent from others using your building and you have property and equipment insurance through Unity you can read their blog for more information.
All face-to-face Scouting has stopped. Therefore you should not be using your building for a Scout meeting, event or activity. Any use of the building – either by Scouts or any third party - should not conflict with government’s Public Health guidance, damage the reputation of Scouts or go against the wishes of the responsible Executive Committee.
If you hire out your facility to other organisations and clubs you should discuss payment at a local level. It isn’t possible for UK Headquarters to make a recommendation that covers every situation across the UK. The responsible Executive Committee should therefore come to a local view in consultation with all renting organisations or clubs and be mindful of the Government’s safety advice, remembering that this is a difficult time for all organisations.
There may be rate relief available for Scout premises, please contact your local authority for details.
Most local Scout Headquarters (HQs) are completely closed, but looking after the property and equipment during this time is just as important now as ever. Here's a few things you should continue to do to make sure you're still looking after your HQ:
- You can check your Buildings insurance, this will normally include a clause on how long the building can be left without someone visiting, and you’ll need to try to you comply, or notify your insurance company if this is an issue.
- You can make sure the building is secure, with no leaks, and security lighting is operating properly.
- Review where money can be saved by turning off all unnecessary equipment, heating, water heaters, refrigerators, lighting etc. Whilst doing this, you need to make sure that areas are not allowed to get damp, especially in the camping equipment stores.
- You can clear food from refrigerators, and take to food banks or dispose. Also check dried food in cupboards and check 'use by' dates. Once empty, the refrigerator should be thoroughly cleaned and the door left open.
- Continue to carry out maintenance checks, Fire Alarms, Emergency Lighting etc. and continue to carry out essential maintenance.
- Collect post (if appropriate) and pay the bills.
We’ve stopped processing disclosures at this time because it’s difficult to effectively do identity checks. We’re also following the advice of the disclosure bodies who are understandably prioritising people directly dealing with the coronavirus situation, who need disclosures more urgently.
No-one will be suspended because they don’t have a valid disclosure during the Coronavirus situation. Current volunteers whose disclosures expire can continue to meet digitally, following the advice and guidance issued on holding virtual meetings to make sure we keep everyone safe.
Current volunteers who require a re-check will be given a 90-day extension from when the suspension on face-to-face Scout meetings ends to get a valid disclosure. They’ll still be able to take part in face-to-face Scout activities during this extension period.
All disclosure checks have now been suspended, and volunteer line managers should not add any new adults during the Coronavirus situation. This will allow for disclosure services to prioritise essential key workers. They should not continue with re-checks, however the member should not be suspended as per the guidance.
If this relates to an existing member, they should not continue with this stage, as all disclosure checks are suspended now and can start being processed when Scouting resumes. However they should not process the suspension of volunteers during this period.