Tomorrow, Monday 29th March, is a significant day in the Government’s roadmap out of current restrictions, and a significant day for Scouts across England. We move back to the Amber-level within our Getting Back Together framework. This is great news and means that Section and Unit meetings can take place outdoors.

What can we do in Amber?

Outdoor activities for young people, for which you have an approved Amber COVID risk assessment in place can resume. There’s no limit on the group size for activities involving young people but each activity should remain as only one section meeting independently of others. Programmed activities for Scout Network (non social) can take place outdoors, and again there’s no limit on group size, but each activity should remain as only one section meeting independently of others. Where small sections may struggle to be viable to operate independently they may join with another section. The number of adults present should be limited to those who are required to be present to support the activity. It’s important to remember that we’re still in the middle of the pandemic and we all have the duty to make sure we’re following the letter and spirit of the guidance. It’s not yet possible to run indoor activities or residential activities. 

Any non-social, developmental activities for adults without young people present must operate in line with government guidance.

All activities should be planned to minimise risk by limiting travel at all times.

Do things change on 12th April, when the Government currently expects to further ease restrictions?

In line with the government moving to Step 2 (no earlier than 12th April 2021) we are anticipating further changes that would then allow for meetings indoor, outdoors and day trips and visits (overnight and residential experiences will remain prohibited). It is expected that maximum group sizes will be in place for indoor activities, this will be confirmed the week before the move to allow indoor activities.

What are the Leadership and Support teams across Merseyside Scouts focusing on to support our Sections, Units and Groups?

Each District will be planning an element of support to our members – look out for local opportunities. However, there will also be some consistency in our focus while we’re supporting Sections and Units to restart and rebuild. Our focus will be on:

  • COVID Risk Assessments: supporting both the completion and approval of risk assessments for Sections and Units that don’t already have an approved Amber risk assessment in place for the venue you’re able to use and the activities you’d like to deliver.
  • Volunteer Training: we know a lot of our volunteers need to refresh their First Response training, so we’re preparing to deliver this training in two parts – 3 x 2 hour online sessions to deliver the theory elements and then a short face to face validation session when restrictions allow. We’re also still delivering our full range of both Section Leader and Manager and Supporter wood badge training, via online remote sessions – and we’ve retained a focus on mandatory safeguarding and safety training.
  • Programme Support: as well as still encouraging online Section and Unit meetings, and Scouting at Home, we’re moving to focusing on enhancing the quality of our programmes, top awards, young leader support and planning for when events can resume. We’ll be talking more about these areas at our Leadership and Support Summit on Saturday 10th April.
  • Restart and Rebuild Support: we’re working on refocusing and extending our funded growth work, as we plan for the project to resume, so that we’re able to provide hands-on support to our most vulnerable Sections and Units across Merseyside. We’re hearing that the greatest need our Section Teams will have for support will be with re-accessing third party venues, recruiting volunteers, and then recruiting young people. So we’re preparing to help directly with recruitment, and encouraging support within Districts in relation to accessing and sharing venues.
  • Preparing for Nights Away and Activity Permit renewals: we know that Nights Away and Activity Permits will have expired over the last 12 months. We’re supporting District Commissioners to understand the numbers that will require renewal, and to begin preparations for this.
  • Protecting and Securing Tawd Vale Adventure Centre: it’s clear most are not yet ready to return to Tawd Vale; and many of our current bookings for 2021 (including some significant sources of income) have been cancelled or postponed to 2022. Our readiness framework doesn’t yet allow residential activities, and Tawd Vale is not in a location that currently means it will be straightforward for most of our Sections to access when visits are initially permitted. We need to see what guidance is made available for transport over the coming months for this to be clearer. In the meantime, we are very carefully managing operational costs, completing essential capital and safety works, and will be looking to further build our volunteer team. We don’t expect Tawd Vale to be fully open until spring 2022, but we’ll be keeping this under review.

We’re all looking forward to getting back to a level of normality; but go at a pace that works for you, and let us know what we can do to help along the way. We’re grateful of your support, and your young people will hugely value being able to get back to what they enjoy – your adventure-filled programmes and activities.

Peter Oliver
County Commissioner