Coronavirus

COVID-19 and Scouting in Suffolk

Suffolk Scouts have set up an action team to manage the risk regarding the COVID-19 virus, and to communicate advice and information to districts and groups in the county.

We are guided by headquarters and by Government guidelines, please see the external links for their latest advice.

Updates from Suffolk Scouts will appear below, please use the blue menu above to see all available resources.

We are pleased to say we are ready to restart face-to-face scouting in Suffolk! If you are choosing to return to face-to-face Scouting, we hope you are making good progress in preparing yourselves to be Covid19 ready. The highlighted text below is clickable to the relevant webpages.

Readiness for return to face-to-face Scouting

Full details of the national plans can be found on The Scout Association website. Further details of our process and forms can be found on the Suffolk Scouts website

·        From 7th August leaders in charge of a section or place (e.g. campsite) can submit their Covid19 risk assessment using Smartsheet plus any other documents if you’ve been instructed to by your District

·        Make sure that your section Scouting plan and risk assessment have been agreed with the GSL and Group Chair before submitting to your District approver

·        Prior to approval, you will need to confirm that all leaders within in your section and the Group Executive have their safety and safeguarding mandatory training completed which is normally covered by the Essential Information training under Module 1 (leaders) and Module 1EX (exec members) and has been validated on Compass.

·        Confirm that Adult leaders meeting face-to-face have up-to-date DBS (or renewing within the allowed 90 days)

·        Please submit your risk assessment in a timely fashion ahead of when you plan to start (we recommend 14 days to allow for any revisions which might be required)

·        Your district teams are happy to help and advise

Thank you for continuing to support scouting in Suffolk. Your ongoing support at this time is more important than ever as we enter the next phase in our return to scouting activities.

As you will now know, headquarters have created a blueprint to help support our planning for this event. You can follow our news and ideas at https://www.suffolkscouts.org.uk/coronovirus.  All content we post will be based on UK Government and The Scout Association guidelines.

Keeping Everyone Safe

The primary aim of the framework is to keep all our leaders, supporters and young people safe. Whilst you might find the idea of creating new written risk assessments challenging, I’d like to reassure you that through a County/District working party which has been set up, there is support to help you. The Risk Assessment Framework is the key system that will create confidence for our young people and their parents and enable us all to enjoy the activities safely.

Framework Principles

·  Guidance documents from The Scout Association will set out the operating procedures for activities. These may be amended from time to time particularly if government or National Youth Agency advice changes

·  Normal insurance will be in force providing that leaders and groups follow the guidelines and meet all the required steps and safety requirements

·  COVID safe risk assessments will need to be completed for activities. Maximum numbers will be determined by scouts.org.uk

·  Completed risk assessments will have to be signed off at a district level

·  Parental consultation and written consent to activities will be required

Timeline

You have probably noticed that across the UK and Europe, things are starting to change as Governments try to come out of lockdown. This is positive news for us in Scouting. Coming out of lockdown is more complex than lockdown itself.

The Scout Association has now started to release information on their website and through webinars (the first was on 2nd July) about the process we need to take to get us to any form of face to face Scouting safely. I’d like to reassure you that the County and District Teams are digesting the information and we will be working with groups for a planned and considered approach to returning to face to face Scouting. There are three things that spring to mind:

   1.  RACE: This is not a race to get back to face to face Scouting as soon as we can; we need to “Think, plan and then do”.

   2. OVERLOAD: There is a lot of information and many more questions resulting. There is no need to take it all on your own shoulders. We will work as a County together across our 8 districts to ensure we all return to Scouting safely.

   3. SHARE: The County and Districts will be sharing resources, ideas and approaches for our safe return to face to face Scouting.

The state of readiness has not changed this week and remains at RED. Last week I said that The Scout Association would continue to follow the guidance set by the National Youth Agency who in turn, take all their guidance from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Please do not follow anything you see from the Department of Education, this is not of relevance to us in Scouting.

Regrettably, there have been a number of inappropriate Scouting gatherings cropping up across the country during the last few days and I would like to remind you, that whilst we remain at a readiness status of RED, no face to face Scouting can take place, even in a socially distanced way.

I hope that you and your families are staying well. I strongly believe as Scouters we are part of a team and there to support each other. The fear of catching Covid-19 may be abating but in one way or another, our mental wellbeing has been affected and for some more than others. I ask you as volunteers that if there are adult leaders you’ve “not heard from John for a while” or “Sarah seems more withdrawn” that you take the time to call them and just make sure they’re ok. If you find someone asks for help, then please (confidentially) help and encourage them to seek out professional medical help, normally through their GP.

We had a very clear instruction from The Scout Association on the 17th March this year, Face to Face Scouting is suspended from that date, which we duly did and continue to respect. As the Government starts to ease restrictions on lockdown, The Scout Association is starting a journey in line with the Government run National Youth Agency to ease aspects of lockdown. Doing this will be more complicated than lockdown and we will each need to put many things in place to enable a staged and safe return to normal Scouting. More details are set out below.

I hope that your sunflowers are growing well for our Suffolk wide support of Age UK Suffolk fund raiser and your dogs have been ably walked by you or young people for 5km to raise funds for young people through the Suffolk Community Foundation Trust. More details for both initiatives can be found at https://www.suffolkscouts.org.uk/adventurecontinues.  

Feel free to invite me to your section Zoom/Teams meetings or virtual camps - I’d love to attend.

Best wishes

Mark Pearson

County Commissioner – Suffolk