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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

Discover what this means

Scouting online safely

Find out how to run safe Scout activities online

Some Scout groups and areas use digital tools and methods to provide an excellent programme for young people and volunteers, including meetings, training sessions for volunteers, or local team meetings.

All Scout activities are risk assessed, including online activities. You can find guidance and examples on our risk assessments page.

As always, if an adult volunteer has any safeguarding concerns they must follow the reporting process set out in the Yellow Card Safeguarding Code of Conduct for Adults.

Staying safe on video calls

There must be a minimum of two adult volunteers present at all times during any online meetings which involve adults and young people. 

We recommend having three adults per meeting, so that there'll always be two adults present. For example, in case someone's Wi-Fi disconnects and an adult has to rejoin the meeting.

Young people must never be left in a one-to-one situation with an adult. This protects us all.

Learn more about ratios.

There are many different platforms you can use to run activities or sessions online. They’re all slightly different and most importantly, have different levels of security and privacy. 

Take a look at some of the most popular video call platforms you can use.

Remember to read the platforms’ features and make the most of any features that restrict access to only those you invite, such as by setting a password. 

When setting up your meetings, make sure each one requires a unique password and attendees are put into a virtual waiting room before joining. This ensures no young person's left alone with an adult online.

Most live video call platforms, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, have a minimum age requirement. You should check the terms and conditions of services to make sure they’re suitable. 

If the young people in your group are under the minimum age requirement of the tool you want to use, then their parents or carers should set up the required accounts and remain nearby throughout the meeting.

For Squirrels, Beavers and Cubs, a parent or carer should be present in the room at all times.

Scouts and Explorers should have an adult nearby, so that they can ask for help if they need it.

You should ask parents or carers to 'drop' their young person off to the meeting, so you know that they've a responsible adult nearby if they need any help. This'll also give you a chance to talk to parent or carers if you need to.

Make sure parents, carers and young people know that you’ll still be following the Yellow Card Safeguarding Code of Conduct for Adults and why you’re doing this.

For adult volunteers, if you’re calling from home and there are other people around, make sure they know how to behave when you're talking to young people and are dressed appropriately. It might be best to ask other people to stay out of the room that you’re making the call from. 

Make sure your background space is young person friendly, ensuring nothing inappropriate is on display. You shouldn't be drinking alcohol or smoking, or have alcohol in the video call.

Some of the video calling software has a built-in option to ‘blur’ the background, which you may feel this is an appropriate feature to turn on. Some Groups use a Scout background or an image relating to their Scouts event. You can find backgrounds for you to use on your live video calls, such as on Zoom, on the Scout brand centre.

Children and young people must take part in the video call in a suitable communal environment and not a bedroom. They should be appropriately dressed, as they would for a face-to-face meeting. 

You should remind parents and carers to make sure all members of their household are aware that the call is taking place.

Parents and carers will also need to make sure they use appropriate language and behaviour when nearby or in the background, as well as make sure their young person's background is appropriate.

During your virtual meetings, if you have an activity that will involve breaking out into a smaller group, as long as there is more than one young person within the group, you don't need more than one adult to be present. This'll ensure that the Yellow Card Code of Conduct for Adults is being adhered to at all times, as there's more than one other person present.

For example: If you've five young people within a breakout activity with one adult, this is acceptable. However, it's not OK to have one adult with one young person in any activity. The Yellow Card Code of Conduct for Adults says "Do not plan to be alone with a child or young person in Scouts, either online or in person".

The person leading the call should outline the behaviour expected during your virtual meeting at the start of each one, such as asking people to mute themselves while others are speaking.

You may choose to disable some features of the live video call platform, such as the chat box, or have a responsible adult assigned to monitor this part of the call.

If you have a lot of people on a call, think about how they can join in the conversation without interrupting each other. Use the platform's online tools such as raising a hand.

When recording meetings, check with parents, carers and young people that they consent to recording.

Make sure that no one’s personal details are displayed, such as information that may identify a home address or a school uniform logo.

Be sure to triple-check the video or photo before uploading it to make sure it's the correct video or photo and it complies with all guidance on running online Scouting safely.

Visit our digital skills platform

Digital skills help us find, create and share information with others. In an increasingly online world, they've become more important than ever.

We know not everyone at Scouts is confident with technology, which is why we've developed a list of useful skills to help you with your volunteering.

Learn more digital skills