Tips for preparing for your unit meetings

Things have changed in how we need to plan and run our unit meetings, our advice will guide you through what you need to think about

22 September 2020

We've all had to find new ways to do things during the coronavirus outbreak.

Unit meetings work a bit differently now - maybe you're all meeting online, or are trying social distancing in your meetings for the first time. As we all work together to keep safe from coronavirus, you'll need to make some changes to how you meet. Here's some advice to get you started.

Before your meeting

Remember, you’re not alone! If you’re feeling unsure about anything, talk to your commissioner and other leaders about starting meetings again. They may have good ideas about how things can work and will probably share some of the same concerns as you.

Just because you can meet indoors, doesn't mean you have to. If virtual meetings have been working well for your unit, you can keep going. Or you can get started with online guiding if you've not tried it yet.

You can also hold your meetings outdoors if you like or combine different ways of meeting to suit your unit.

Planning your indoor meeting

Before you can start meeting you need to fill out the indoor meeting checklist and risk assessment and have these signed off by your commissioner. Follow our process for starting indoor meetings to make sure you've covered everything.

If you haven’t already, get in touch with your meeting place and see if they’re reopening. They might've changed their hire agreements or conditions, so make sure you understand your responsibilities when using the space. Find out if you'll need to clean the space or equipment before or after you use it. If you’re no longer able to meet in your usual meeting place you maybe need to start the process of finding a new one. We'll be sharing some advice for finding new venues with all our members soon.

Talk to your unit volunteers. They may not be able to come back straight away, or they might not feel comfortable to yet, so let them know that's ok. Make sure you keep in touch until they’re ready to re-join and keep them updated with what the unit is up to.

Think about ways you could include parents or recruit new volunteers if you need to. If you have new people joining, make sure they have read and understood your risk assessment and know their responsibilities in keeping everyone safe.

Think about meeting timings. There may be restrictions under the guidelines of your venue. Allow time before or after meeting for cleaning if you need to. You may want to make the meeting time shorter to allow time for this. Be clear who is responsible for what among the leadership team so that you can make the best use of the time you have.

If units meet one after the other in the same venue, you may need to leave longer between meetings to make sure that different units or groups of parents don’t come into contact when leaving or arriving.

Think about numbers allowed in the space and how many girls you will be expecting. Consider flexible meeting arrangements, like girls coming every other week, or on different nights, or alternating online and face to face meetings or setting at home activities.

Take a look at our ideas for adjusting programme activities to use in different types of meetings.

If you're not going to start in person meetings, of if your new plans don't work for all your members, think about how to keep girls and volunteers engaged. There may be other units they can join or online meetings being run in your area by other leaders. Speak to you commissioner about the best way to do this.

Keep in touch with girls and parents, whatever your plans are. And think about ways you can welcome girls back and ease any concerns they or their parents might have about returning.

Once you start meeting

Make sure you keep your risk assessment up to date with changes to government guidelines and what you plan to do in meetings. Update as you get used to new procedures and learn how things work in the new circumstances.

Keep checking that GO details are correct and that attendance records are complete for test and trace.

If someone falls ill after a meeting or event, they should call 111 and, if needed, arrange a Covid-19 test.

If you find out that a volunteer or girl has tested positive for Covid-19 it is very important that that person follows the government guidance for their region, self isolates for 14 days and contacts the NHS test and trace service.

The unit meeting must be suspended immediately for two weeks and all attendees (including leaders, volunteers and visitors) follow track and trace procedures also. If you hire your meeting venue, the property management may need to be notified.

If you are not contacted by NHS test and trace but are concerned, or have any queries about the procedure, you can contact [email protected]

Thank you... and have fun!

Whether you’re meeting indoor, outdoor, online or all three, thanks for all you do to give girls the opportunity to get back to guiding safely.