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Lone working within Scouting

Guidance on how to safely manage a lone working activity within Scouting.

(FS120341) (Published August 2020, replacing May 2018)

Introduction 

There are many incidences where adult volunteers or even young people may be considered to be lone working as part of their scouting activities and these can be defined in two ways:

  • Where adult volunteers or young people are undertaking Scouting activities by themselves. This doesn’t mean that they are physically alone, it means they are in a separate location to the rest of their team or line manager.

  • Where adult volunteers or young people are undertaking Scouting activities alone with the general public or members unfamiliar to them. Such individuals may be exposed to risk because there is no-one to assist them.

A scouting activity would be where a member is operating under Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) and would be seen to be representing The Scout Association.

Some examples of lone working are:

Physically alone:

  • Reconnaissance trips

  • Managing premises and scout centres e.g. maintenance, bookings, and quartermaster checks

  • Remote supervision of groups and activities

  • Remote supervision of nights away activities when using an Event Passport

  • CPD (Continuing Professional Development)  opportunities

  • One off activities whilst camping e.g. shopping

  • Before / after a meeting

Alone with people unfamiliar to themselves:

  • Fundraising

  • Community work

  • Mentoring

  • Attending conferences, World and European

  • 121 permit assessments

  • 121’s with training advisers / learners

  • 121 reviews

Approval

Prior to every activity the member must ensure that it has been approved by the relevant District /County Commissioner (POR 9.1). This is often delegated and can be handled by an agreement with the GSL, DESC or DSNC. Details of systems which Commissioners can put in place to approve activities can be found here. This agreement could be as simple as the programme for the term being agreed in advance or the activity training schedule for the year being approved.

As part of the approval process the relevant commissioner or their delegate should be making sure:

  • The individual is appropriately trained;

  • If appropriate, the weather forecast is obtained and acted upon in terms of selecting the area in which the activity will operate and the participant is suitably equipped to tackle predicted/possible extremes;

  • All equipment is appropriate for the activity;

  • Any other requirements of The Scout Association, including Visit Abroad process and Safety, have been complied with;

  • Any legal requirements for the activity have been complied with;

  • A risk assessment is carried out in accordance with Rule 9.4 Risk Assessment.

  • Suitable first aid materials are available.

InTouch

InTouch is the system used to manage communications at all Scout activities and events. It is flexible to allow those organising events to implement a system best suited to their particular circumstances.

Whenever any activity, event or meeting is run within Scouting it is a requirement that an InTouch system is put in place (POR 9.3).  This is the case when undertaking a period of lone working and is to ensure that anyone involved in lone working knows who to communicate with, and how, so that their peers / manager are aware that they are ok, or raise the alarm if they have concerns over someone’s safety or an emergency occurs.

The procedures put in place are likely to vary for different types of events and activities due to the differing circumstances and needs. Whatever the Scouting event or activity, the InTouch process must be followed to ensure that everyone understands what will be put in place to manage communication between those at the event and those not.

Guidance for managers

There are many controls you could choose to implement if you are managing someone who is undertaking a period of lone working, or if you are planning on lone working yourself. The controls that are put in place will vary depending on the nature of the activity that is being undertaken, but considering the diversity of these situations you may not have explicit lone working plans for all, for example a leader needing to do a shop during a week long summer camp could be assumed as part of the event approval and managed within the event leadership team.

There are some common principles and practices that should be considered:

  • Assess the risks involved in conjunction with the individual. You should be aware that some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out unaccompanied and they should be willing to adapt or not undertake the activity if necessary. When assessing the risk you should consider:
    • the environment – location, security, access
    • the activity – nature of the task, any special circumstances
    • the individuals concerned
    • any other special circumstances
  • Ensure that they leave details with you as line manager or another appropriate person of where they plan to go, approximate times of when they are expected to undertake the activity, details of any meetings they have arranged, including the name any people they are meeting. Agree a plan in case circumstances change including who and how do they will let people know.
  • Ensure there is an appropriate means of communication. If taking a mobile phone, check it is fully charged and (for pay-as-you-go), has sufficient credit and is switched on.
  • Ensure they carry emergency contact details in case of illness or accident and ensure their Compass profile has their emergency details up to date as well.
  • Think about where they will be going and what they will be doing; consider whether there are particular risks relating to that location or activity (e.g. an unusually isolated location, adverse weather conditions for driving). If there are, discuss them before setting off.
  • Remind them to:
    •  Consider locking premises when they are working or volunteering alone.
    • Leave immediately or not enter any situations or premises if they feel unsafe.
    • Report any concerns, lone working incidents or near misses to their line manager.
    • Report any safety practices that need to be improved or risks not otherwise identified.
    • If they are meeting with members of the public, or someone unfamiliar to them then they should arrange the meeting to take place in a public place such as a café, a communal area at a meeting place, a County/District office or activity centre where others will be present.

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