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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

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Lesson 3: Understand the role of the leader in charge

Lesson 3: Understand the role of the leader in charge

All meetings, events or activities must have a leader in charge who oversees the activity, adults and young people.

Their responsibilities include keeping registers and making headcounts, allocating roles to specific adults and checking they’re aware of their specific responsibilities. This isn’t always the same person, so make sure everyone’s clear on who it is for each activity or event. It shouldn’t be a chore but simply an important part of keeping everyone safe and having fun. 

The leader in charge must make sure that a risk assessment’s in place for the activity they’re responsible for, but they don’t always have to do the risk assessment themselves. A risk assessment could be done by anyone with a reasonable ability to recognise some of the risks of the activity.

It may be a volunteer or parent with relevant experience in the activity or just a friend of the Group with some time to give. In older sections, it could be the young people themselves (for example, Explorers planning an expedition should do their own risk assessment, although the leader in charge would need to check it – don’t forget, as the leader in charge, you’re still responsible for the activity).

Involving more than one person in assessing risk is a good practice. It spreads the workload and helps to spot things that one person might miss. 

Emmanuel has been helping in a Scout section for four years. 

"I really enjoy organising outdoor activities so that the young people get a chance to do something different that they wouldn’t normally do. We recently organised a short hike for our Scouts, and I realised it’s just as important to pay close attention to the safety of an activity as it is to make sure the activity happens in the first place.

A short way into the hike, we realised that we were missing one of our young people! I tried to stay calm, but inside I was really panicking. Luckily, after a few moments, we saw her running towards us from around the corner. It turns out that she’d just stopped to tie up a shoelace. We were really lucky, but this could’ve ended very differently. 

It highlighted how important having a leader in charge is, as all of the adults had assumed there was an adult at the front and back of the young people. If there had been a leader in charge who was responsible for overseeing our safety plans, we could’ve avoided this situation. 

Now I make sure that I regularly use my safety checklist as a reminder at the start of activities, and we always agree who the leader in charge is. It’s so important to establish routines for regular monitoring, such as headcounts, to make sure that young people have been briefed about our safety plans, and most importantly, to make sure they understand them."

- Emmanuel

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The Safety workbook is available download and print.

Download the Safety workbook