Holding planning meetings in private homes and gardens

How to run planning meetings in private homes and gardens

This guidance is to help leaders and commissioners run effective planning meetings in private homes and gardens to include young volunteers 16+.

This covers unit planning meetings, district and division meetings, event planning and committee meetings.

A private home or garden covers the place where someone lives, such as a house, flat or bungalow, the land surrounding it – usually enclosed by a fence, hedge, or wall – plus any buildings on that land, for example garden sheds, annexes, or cabins. 

You need to follow this guidance for all planning meetings in a home or garden.  

Planning meetings are a great way to include young leaders and young external volunteers in planning and decision-making. They’ll learn how to run great meetings, empowering them with leadership skills that’ll benefit all.

What do I need to do to hold a planning meeting in my home or garden?

1. Check your insurance

Girlguiding’s public liability insurance doesn't cover third party venues, like private homes and gardens, or hired venues. This means that if an accident happens, like someone is injured or property is damaged in your house or garden during a planning meeting, and is a result of the venue, the claim would be against your household insurance.

We advise you to check that you have public liability insurance cover as part of your household cover. Most policies including contents insurance will include cover for visitors. It's good practice to let your insurer know that you're hosting an adult only meeting beforehand. And it may be essential to let them know if it’s an unusually large meeting or you've identified significant risks. 

Find out more about Girlguiding’s public liability insurance

2. Follow all our policies and procedures, just as you would for any other Girlguiding activity.

All members of the leadership team must:

  • hold a valid Girlguiding disclosure check, in line with our recruitment and vetting policy
  • have completed the correct level of a safe space for their role, and be aware of their responsibilities for caring for young people. One person at the meeting must be a safe space level 3 trained.

3. Do your risk assessment

Complete a risk assessment in line with the health, safety and welfare procedures. Everyone involved in the meeting should be aware that a risk assessment has been done and have access to it. You can find a checklist at the bottom of this page to help you think about the risks. It won’t cover every risk you need to plan for so think about any other factors of your meeting venue.

As the host you’ll need to make sure other members of your household know that there’ll be a young person in your home. And you should ask them to make sure they aren’t alone with the young person at any time.

Before the meeting, make sure that the parent or carer of the young volunteer has completed a new starter form and an information and consent form.

Any young volunteer joining the meeting must have completed the a safe space relevant for their role.

You’ll also need to:

  • make sure there are a minimum of two adult volunteers present. The meeting shouldn't go ahead if this isn’t possible
  • make sure planning meetings are not a weekly occurrence
  • avoid being one-on-one with a young person, if possible. But if they're the first to arrive, you can invite them in and show them where the meeting is being held so they can get settled. Make sure young people aren’t left alone with anyone who isn’t a member of Girlguiding or part of the planning meeting.

There are lots of reasons why your home might not be a suitable place to hold a planning meeting. You might have young volunteers under the age of 16 in your leadership team, or your risk assessment might have shown that your home isn’t accessible for your whole team.

But there are other ways to hold planning meetings to make sure everyone is included.

You could hold the meeting:

You might also want to try to find ways to include young volunteers in planning, even if they can’t join the main planning meetings. You could take a term plan to a unit meeting, sit down separately with your young volunteers and ask them to take on parts of planning and delivering activities.  

  • Think about the time of the meeting, including time of day and time of year. You might want to avoid exam season, for example, as this can be a very busy and stressful time.
  • Explain how the planning meetings are run and what's expected of them. They might never have attended a meeting like this before so avoid making it too formal, and explain common jargon or acronyms.
  • Make the meetings fun. Include time to help the young people get to know everyone.
  • Aim for the meeting to be action oriented. What short-term goals can you tackle?  
  • Have one or more specific adult volunteers as a contact for the young leader to talk to about any problems. This could be anything from difficultly getting to the meeting, to not knowing how or when to share ideas. 
  • Make sure they know that they can challenge anything they don’t agree with, and their opinions are as important as the adult volunteers. 

Who’s coming to the planning meeting?

  • Do the volunteers have up to date a safe space training? Does someone have level 3?
  • Have they gone through our recruitment checks?
  • Are there people with disabilities or vulnerable volunteers coming? Check out our guidance on how to make your risk assessment inclusive.
  • If you have new people joining, have they read and understood your risk assessment and know their responsibilities for keeping everyone safe?
  • Are all details up to date on GO? Check everyone’s contact and emergency contact details.  
  • Do you have all the documents you need, such as consent forms for young leaders and young external volunteers? Find a copy of these on the unit forms.

Making sure everyone stays healthy

  • Are there any individual wellbeing needs? Might you need to create adjustment plans or wellbeing plans? 
  • Where are medicines kept in your home? Could they be accidentally found or used?
  • What will you do if someone becomes ill during the meeting? 

Is your meeting place safe and accessible?

  • How will people access your venue or meeting place? Do they have to enter through the home to get to the garden?
  • Is the venue accessible for disabled people? Do you have ramps for wheelchair users?
  • Are there toilet facilities available? Are they accessible for all, including disabled volunteers? If you’re meeting in a private home, toilet facilities that can only be accessed through a bedroom aren’t suitable.
  • Do you need to clean the space before the meeting? How will you safely store any cleaning materials?
  • If you’re using a public space, like a café or park, how will you make sure confidential information is kept safe?
  • Have you spoken to your young volunteers about their travel to and from the venue? Especially if they’ve got to walk a few miles from the bus stop or train station.
  • Will there be anyone else in the home or garden during the meeting? Have they been told that a young person may be attending, and not to be alone with them?
  • Is there public liability insurance in place? 

Financial risks to consider

  • If you’re meeting in a public space, like a café or community venue, will you need to pay?
  • Will other volunteers have to use expensive public transport to get to your home?

Reputational risks to consider

  • How might you manage volunteers at the meeting who aren't following our policies and procedures, like the health, safety and welfare policy and procedures or volunteer code of conduct
  • How will you encourage good behaviour from young volunteers? Have you agreed expected behaviour with them? 
  • What can you do to reduce the chance of being one to one with young volunteers?
  • How will you make sure that other household members act as positive role models while young people are in your home?