Making sure volunteers complete A Safe Space training
All volunteers must have the appropriate levels of A Safe Space training. Here's how you can help them as their commissioner.
Last updated: 3 March 2022
There's no higher priority for Girlguiding than looking after the wellbeing of members.
That's why all volunteers need to have the suitable levels of A Safe Space training for their role.
Completing A Safe Space is part of the Safeguarding policy and if you don't complete the training it may result in a volunteer’s membership being withdrawn. But, because we want to avoid that happening, we regularly remind volunteers to complete their training and offer help throughout the process. Commissioners also have an important role to play in reminding and helping volunteers.
Which levels of training need completing?
There are four levels of training. We know lots of volunteers hold more than one role, so they must complete all the relevant A Safe Space training for the role that needs the highest level of training. For example, if they’re a unit administrator, which needs Level 1, but they’re also a commissioner mentor, which needs Level 4, they must complete Levels 2 and 3 as well.
All volunteers including helpers, GO coordinators, home contacts, peer educators and young leaders have to complete at least Level 1 of the training.
All new volunteers must complete A Safe Space Level 1 before their role is active and they’ll receive a notification asking them to do it. No one can become an active volunteer until they've done Level 1. Once a new volunteer has an enquirer number they’ll be sent an email asking them to set up a GO account, they can then set up their learning platform account to complete A Safe Space Level 1.
Once they've done this, they’ll receive an inform email for any additional levels needed for their role or roles.
Every unit needs a leader with Level 3 training
There must be at least one active leader at meetings and activities, in every unit, who has Level 3 training. We recommend that if you have more than one leader in a unit, that they all complete Level 3 so that the unit is covered if a leader can’t attend. Looking ahead, we’re looking at every leader to complete Level 3 as part of the Leadership qualification.
Going Away With licence holders
A Going Away With licence holder needs to have A Safe Space Level 3 training when they go on a trip. The commissioner signing off the Residential Event Notification (REN) must make sure they don't sign it until the Going Away With licence holder has Levels 1, 2 and 3 on their records and all other attendees have Levels 1 and 2. We recommend that all leaders attending a trip have Level 3 at the time of the trip so that the event is covered if the group is spilt up for activities or one leader needs to attend an emergency.
Volunteers with significant support needs
We've introduced the supported volunteer role for adult volunteers with a disability. A supported volunteer will always be paired with an individual volunteer supporter. A supported volunteer don't have any safeguarding responsibilities and doesn't have to complete A Safe Space training but they'll need to complete an enhanced (with barred list) criminal record disclosure check. To find out more about these roles, go to the supported volunteer roles webpage
This is an e-learning completed on the learning platform. Volunteers will need to set themselves up with a log in the first time they visit the platform. Learning platform accounts are created from their GO account.
Level 1 A Safe space training needs to be renewed every three years.
This is an e-learning completed on the learning platform.
There's an assessment at the end of Level 2 and volunteers have to answer at least 80% of the answers correctly in three attempts. If volunteers don’t pass in three attempts the e-learning will be locked and they should speak to their commissioner, who will put them in touch with an A Safe Space trainer. The trainer will work through the content to see which areas the volunteer didn't understand. It might be simply that they misunderstood an area. If the trainer is happy after this, the volunteer is asked to redo the e-learning. The commissioner will need to contact [email protected] to ask for the volunteer’s attempt to be reset on the learning platform.
If the volunteers doesn't understand lots of the training, they'll need to complete the full face-to-face course, which can be completed online, as part of a virtual session or in person. We recommend contacting [email protected] for any further advice on how to best support volunteers who may have a learning disability.
Level 2 A Safe Space training will need to be renewed every three years.
This can be completed either face-to-face or virtually. The Recognised Prior Learning route is currently suspended. To book a virtual Level 3 course visit our learning platform or contact your country or region who offer virtual and in-person sessions.
Level 3 will need to be renewed every three years.
Can be completed either face-to-face or virtually. Contact your training coordinator for details of upcoming Level 4 courses.
To book a virtual Level 4 course visit our learning platform or contact your country or region who offer virtual and in-person sessions.
Courses completed from September 2021 Level 4 will need to be renewed every three years. You might have completed Level 4 prior to this and will have a validity term of five years and this won't change until you renew it.
How renewals work
When a volunteer’s training is due to expire, they'll receive an email. To renew it, the volunteer will need to redo that level of A Safe Space.
The window for renewing a level will open 120 days before the training expires. They'll need to complete the training during this time. If they do it ahead of the deadline, they'll have the extra time added on to their next renewal date.
Volunteers who need to complete or renew their A Safe Space training will receive notices to encourage them to complete their training. If they haven't completed their training by the 120th day, their membership will be withdrawn.
Commissioners will receive messages from GO asking them to support the volunteer to book training, or fill in a reason they can't complete it.
Stage 1 – Inform (120 days before renewal of training is required)
The volunteer receives an email to say they need to complete or renew the training in 120 days. The local commissioner receives a GO communication asking them to support the individual.
Stage 2 – Remind (60 days after inform email sent)
The volunteer receives a reminder email to remind them to complete or renew the training. The local commissioner will also receive a GO communication asking them to support the individual and share if there are any mitigating circumstances.
Stage 3 – Warn (80 days after inform email sent)
The volunteer receives a warn letter to say they need to complete or renew the training and told of the date their membership may be stopped if they don't. The county commissioner receives a GO communication asking them to support the individual and the date their membership may be withdrawn or application refused if they don't complete the training.
At this stage, the volunteer or commissioner can apply for an extension to the deadline if the volunteer has any mitigating circumstances that is stopping them from completing the training. This request must be made at least 10 days before the deadline to allow for processing time.
Stage 4 – Sanction (120 days after inform email sent)
At this stage, a volunteer's membership is sanctioned and a letter is sent to them. Any decision to withdraw a volunteer will be verified and approved by the country or region chief commissioner.
After the warning stage, a volunteer can contact [email protected] to request their deadline be extended based on mitigating circumstances. This would be personal events or situations that place significant barriers to them being able to complete the training and this request must be made at least 10 days before the deadline. Some examples of mitigating circumstances are:
- The volunteer has been seriously sick or unwell
- The volunteer is a full-time carer for a relative who is acutely sick or unwell
- The volunteer has had a recent bereavement
Consideration will be given to:
- Length of notice given to the volunteer to complete training
- Any attempts made to complete the training prior to event or situation taking place
- Opportunities provided by Girlguiding or local guiding to complete training
- Impact of event or situation on attempts to complete training before deadline
When looking at mitigating circumstances, the Complaints and Compliance team will prompt the commissioner to consider the following:
- Have reasonable adjustments been offered?
- Is the volunteer still active or are they stepping back from guiding at this time?
- If they're able to do so, has the volunteer confirmed their position?
- Will the volunteer be able to complete the training ahead of the 120 day deadline?
Once this information has been provided, the mitigating circumstance will be considered by our complaints and compliance team.
If the mitigating circumstance is verified, the volunteer will be given an extension to complete the training. The new deadline will be based on individual circumstances, but is usually to the date of the next available course date.
As an extension can only be added after a warning letter has been sent, we encourage the volunteer and their commissioner to explore the above options before contacting the complaints and compliance team.
A commissioner can’t grant the mitigation, but they can discuss it with the volunteer first and go through the options.
Ideally the volunteer will contact the complaints and compliance team directly with relevant details. If the commissioner contacts us on their behalf the complaints and compliance team needs the volunteer to confirm the information that's been given and give permission for us to speak to their commissioner on their behalf.
The volunteer and their commissioner will both be copied into all messages.
There is a Safe Practice tab showing:
- A Safe Space
- Letter of commendation
The A Safe Space section under the Safe Practice tab has four views, one per level showing those who need to complete the training required by their roles. If a volunteer has more than one role requiring the same level, they’ll be included more than once. You’ll also be able to download lists to email individuals about their training. A volunteer will disappear off the list as soon as they’ve completed the training or if you end the role.
You’ll also see the ‘informed on’ date and expiry date to help you establish where the volunteer is in the compliance reminder process.
For Level 3, it will only show according to their individual role requirements, not their unit, so this will include all those at county level but will not include leaders, leaders in training etc as these roles do not currently require it to be completed.
To find a list of units who require someone to complete Level 3 a volunteer needs to go to the reports tab and select A Safe Space report from the left-hand menu. This will show all units who are currently not complying under the units tab along the bottom of the report.
To find out who needs to complete the training in your area please read our further guidance. There's also a help file in the help zone of GO called First Aid and A Safe Space, which explains this if this is required.
Withdrawing membership when training is not completed or renewed
The process for withdrawing a membership is in line with Girlguiding’s Managing concerns about adult volunteers policy and procedures.
Withdrawal of membership means that the individual must not attend any Girlguiding function, event or meeting. If they have a child in guiding, they may attend in a parental capacity only, for example dropping off and collecting their child. They must not help out with any events, trips or outings.
Volunteers have the right to appeal against this decision by providing new information or evidence which has not already been considered. This must be submitted in writing to [email protected] within 28 days of the date of withdrawal.
A request to appeal the decision will be considered at the discretion of the chief guide or the appeals panel.
A volunteer can apply for a review of the decision to withdraw their membership after three years. As part of any application to re-join, we would need to explore that they have understood the implications of not having the right training.
If volunteers have completed Levels 1-3 but not Level 4
If a role requires the holder to complete Level 4, then provided they have completed Levels 1-3, they will not have their membership withdrawn but will have their Level 4 role sanctioned. This means they can no longer be a commissioner or any other role that requires A Safe Space Level 4.
Volunteers have the right to appeal against this decision as set out above.
Units mustn't meet (either face-to-face or virtually) without at least one leader present who holds a valid A Safe Space Level 3 training.
There will not be sanctions applied to a unit where there is no leader recorded with Level 3. But if a unit meets without a leader, assistant leader or leader in training present who has A Safe Space Level 3 this has to be addressed by the local commissioner. They must discuss with the HQ complaints and compliance team to see if there is an informal resolution or if further investigation is required.
If further investigation is needed, meeting without a Level 3 will be dealt with as a policy breach. Under the Girlguiding Investigation procedure:
1. Concern received: unit meeting took place without any leader with Level 3 A Safe Space training being present
Action by local guiding team: must be reported to county commissioner who contacts HQ complaints and compliance team for support within seven days.
2. County commissioner informs unit team they must stop all volunteering roles with immediate effect. All volunteers in leadership roles present at the meeting are to be suspended pending investigation.
Action by local guiding team: if the above means that unit meetings cannot take place the commissioner must arrange alternative cover where practicable, in line with A Safe Space expectations, or cancel the unit meetings and communicate to parents/carers.
3. Investigation takes place in line with Girlguiding Investigation Procedure.
4. A report of the findings from the investigation must be sent to the country or region team and HQ complaints and compliance team. Based on information provided, a decision on next steps is taken. This could include sanctioning whole leadership team or individuals found to have breached Girlguiding’s Safeguarding policy.
An extension cannot be offered for this. If they continue to meet they will be going against the procedures rules and an investigation would be started – not having the time to do it is not a mitigation, the unit must not meet. This is for virtual and face-to-face meetings.
What happens if a volunteer has completed their training but it's not on their record
Please allow 24 hours for training courses to show as being recorded on both GO and the learning platform. Webinars booked through the learning platform will be marked as complete once the trainer records attendance. This can take up to three days.
If someone attended a face-to-face training for any level and it’s not on their GO record, contact your county GO coordinator with proof of completion and they can add this.
If I don’t complete the required levels of training, when will my membership be withdrawn and how?
The process for withdrawal of membership is a manual one. It’s completed by the complaints and compliance team at HQ, working with your country or region. The team checks each volunteers’ record and approves it with your country and region chief commissioner. Once this has happened, you’ll be sent a letter telling you when your membership will end. This will then be added to your GO record.
Will young leaders have their membership withdrawn if they are non-compliant?
Young leaders are not affected as the compliance withdrawal process only applies to those over 18. Young leaders will need to change role after their 18th birthday.
We have created A Safe Space e-learning for 14- to 17-year-old young leaders on the learning platform. This replaces the need for young leaders to complete levels 1 and 2. We recommend that all young leaders complete the training for 14-17-year-olds before they volunteer with a unit or at an event. Young leaders will show as ‘active pending’ if they haven't completed the training. Young leaders need to make sure they can access their GO account and have an email address recorded before they set up their learning platform account
A Safe Space resource for under 14-year-olds is being developed.
What Trefoil Guild roles need A Safe Space?
The Trefoil Guild is a separate organisation to Girlguiding so we can’t provide an answer to this. However, if a Trefoil Guild member also holds a Girlguiding role they would need to do the relevant A Safe Space training for that role. This could be a county Trefoil Guild chair or county treasurer. If a Trefoil Guild member helps regularly at any units or events they must also hold a Girlguiding membership attached to the to unit, district, division or county. This would then trigger the requirement for A Safe Space and they'll receive reminder emails. If they're only visiting a unit or event as a one off, they must be treated as an external visitor and follow the procedures. Ideally we’d like them to do A Safe Space Level 1, but it’s not compulsory in these cases.
I need to complete Level 3 for my role. I was booked onto a session that I was unable to attend and no other course dates are available before my deadline. Will I lose my membership?
Please contact the complaints and compliance team before your deadline and they’ll be able to discuss this with you.
I’ve already completed safeguarding training for work, can this count?
Nobody is automatically exempt from A Safe Space. Currently the Recognised Prior Learning process for exemption is suspended so you would need to all the Levels appropriate to your role.
What will happen if a unit meets (face-to-face or virtually) without a leader with Level 3?
If a unit meets without a leader with Level 3, their commissioner will contact the complaints and compliance team and they'll work together to find out how this happened. For example, was a leader who usually attends unable to make it or does this unit regularly meet without a suitably trained leader?
Once the investigation has happened, we'll decide what to do. In extreme cases, for example if a leader has lied about their training, we would look at withdrawing membership.
This is really case-by-case for each unit. There will need to be a very good reason to explain why either no leaders have Level 3 training or they were unable to ask another leader to come in and cover.
In one unit, volunteer 'X' is a leader and has Level 3 so that unit is marked as compliant for Level 3. Volunteer 'X' is also a unit helper in another unit of a different section, but that unit is not marked as compliant for Level 3.
Units are only compliant when the leader, assistant leader or leader in training of that unit has completed Level 3. If they are in any unit as a leader they should be listed as a leader and not a unit helper.
If the second unit is a different section to their main role they do not need to complete module 1 of the Leadership qualification.
This was reviewed and because of the programme changes it’s now a much easier process to add a different guiding section to a Leadership qualification by working through a checklist. Volunteers would be able to go through the checklist with a commissioner or mentor and get the module added so they could be the A Safe Space qualified person for every unit they’re part of. The checklist process is explained here.
Can I make a volunteer inactive if they have not made contact with me after several different attempts?
You should try to contact the volunteer a number of times and in different ways. They will also be contacted by HQ as part of the compliance process. If you have had no response from a volunteer after multiple and various communication attempts, it’s then reasonable to make a volunteer inactive. After the final expected response date has passed, to continue to support the accuracy of our active member data.
What’s our line on memberships being revoked if the correct training is not completed?
A Safe Space training has been made mandatory for all volunteers. This is because safety is at the heart of everything we do, because we know that when girls feel safe, they feel brave enough to do things they never thought they could.
A Safe Space is now part of the Safeguarding policy and failure to complete or renew the training may result in the volunteer’s membership being withdrawn or refused. If a volunteer has not completed the A Safe Space training required for their role by the deadline set, we’ll write to notify them that their membership has been withdrawn or refused. The letters and reminders aim to prompt each volunteer to complete the training by the deadline, so no further action is taken.
Failure to complete or renew this training will be managed under the Managing concerns about adult volunteer’s policy which has been in place since 2017. As stated in the procedure a withdrawal or dismissal is the most serious sanction and used when there has been a serious breach of the Girlguiding policies and procedures. The procedure states: 'An adult volunteer who has been informed they cannot continue to volunteer with Girlguiding or who has had their membership withdrawn may not reapply within three years of their withdrawal or dismissal. After that time, if they wish to re-apply they must contact HQ for permission.'
This decision was not taken lightly. This was agreed at the time the policy was written and reflects the significance we place on a serious breach of our policies, in this case Girlguiding’s Safeguarding policy.
If you’re worried about completing the training or have difficulty accessing it, please speak with your commissioner so they can help you. If there are other reasons you can’t complete the training, such as personal circumstances or accessibility needs, you must email the complaints and compliance team to let them know at [email protected]. Mitigating circumstances refer to personal events or situations which place significant barriers to volunteers being able to access and complete A Safe Space training.
We are extremely grateful for the time and effort all of our volunteers dedicate to Girlguiding and who are committed to making a positive difference to the lives of our young members. We couldn't do the work we do without the commitment, enthusiasm and skills our volunteers bring to their roles.