Coronavirus (Covid-19) - keeping safe

An update from Girlguiding about coronavirus (Covid-19)

You will have seen the UK Government announce new measures around coronavirus (Covid-19) on Monday 16 March that advised against all non-essential travel and social contact.

We have taken the decision, therefore, to suspend UK Girlguiding unit meetings with immediate effect.

We realise that this news is upsetting, please do support friends and girls within the Girlguiding community at this time, and those beyond our network.

Although we are not meeting face to face, we will remain connected with our amazing community of volunteers and girls across the UK. We will be sharing our ideas as to how girls can continue to enjoy our brilliant programme of activities and badges from home and ways stay in touch with their unit over the coming days.

We'll be updating this page to answer your questions and as we receive new and relevant information, keeping our community safe is our top priority. 

This information is for members who do their guiding in the UK. If you're a Girlguiding member overseas, check the local government advice for the country you operate in, and contact the chief commissioner for BGO or the Branches Advisor with any questions or concerns. 

We’re monitoring and staying up to date with UK Government and Public Health England and are following their advice as the situation evolves.

Staying healthy

Check UK Government advice for the most up-to-date information. 

It may seem obvious, but a few precautions can go a long way to stop germs from spreading. Here are some tips from the NHS:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Try this activity

Check your hand washing skills with this activity from our First Aid skills builder.

Download the activity

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

I have a question about...

How should I talk to my girls about Covid-19?

We know that girls may have questions or be concerned because they've heard different things about the virus. Help the girls by giving them support to talk about their worries and feelings. You may like to read our blog post or look at this helpful advice from Unicef.

How long are unit meetings going to be suspended?

We are following the government's advice around non-essential contact and travel, and will review this on an ongoing basis.

How can we still stay connected with our units while we are not meeting face to face?

We are working on a plan and will come back to you soon – check back here for more details shortly.

If we cancel one element of the Queen's Guide award (e.g. residential), are we able to offer an extension for the award's completion?

Any Queen's Guide award activities that can't go ahead due to the Covid-19 oubreak can be granted an extension by their County Coordinator.

Some sections of the award may still be able to be completed (i.e personal skill development or community action) so extensions will only need to be given for postponed elements (i.e service in guiding, outdoor challenge or residential).

Extensions should be given to all Queen's Guide award participants, even if they are nearing their 26th birthday, and shouldn't be counted as the participants' 12-month break.

My girls were working on the youth programme transition route to the section Gold award; will the timeframe for this be extended beyond summer due to isolation-related delays?

We are keeping a close eye on timescales and possible delays, and will extend the transition route where we need to.

What should I do if girls are due to transition to the next section?

If you have a girl in your unit who is due to transition to the next section and she feels confident to do so, has met her leader and the girls from the next section, then it might be possible to transition her by arranging a digital welcome/meeting with her new unit. However, in situations where girls need more support around transition between sections, do not know the leader of the new section, or in general have raised concerns about transitioning during virus related social isolation, then leaders can postpone the official move date for the time being until there is more clarity around timescales of the social isolation period.

Will there be temporary guidelines for girls working towards their section Gold awards, who will be affected while their unit isn't running?

We are closely monitoring the situation, and working towards a temporary solution to UMAs and skills builders being activities for the unit meeting space. As the situation evolves, we will look at different solutions for the section Gold award completion.

Will programme materials be published online ot how can I do guiding virtually?

We've now launched Adventures at home. Every week we'll be releasing programme activities that can be done at home, so check out the Adventures at home hub for the latest activities and support with doing guiding online.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, we can’t pay our subscriptions. Can we pay electronically or have an extension?

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has already paid their subscriptions, and we are sorry that our current process for collecting subscriptions doesn’t offer flexibility in terms of extensions or electronic payment. Please do everything you can to send your cheque in – Trading is open and ready to receive cheques. We know that this is a difficult time and we are really grateful for your support.

If you are unable to pay before the deadline, we will follow our standard procedures and unpaid unit subscriptions will be deducted via the transfer we make to counties. Your county can explain the process for you to make a late payment directly to them.

A process for electronic payments is part of our future planning for finance systems and we hope to be able to provide information on this at the end of the year.

If I cancel meetings, do I have to reimburse parents' subscriptions?

Every year, Girlguiding UK collects an annual subscription to run our charity at a national level. It pays for our insurance, Safeguarding team and other central functions that remain necessary even if units are not meeting. It also includes levies to support other levels of Girlguiding, such as region and county, and their annual running costs. This subscription will not be refunded to units and, if you have collected it directly from parents, you do not need to refund it because their daughters are still members of Girlguiding.

Whether to refund unit subscriptions to parents is a local decision. It is likely that coronavirus will put strain on family budgets, so if it is possible to give refunds based on your unit’s financial position then please do consider it.

If you are still required to pay rent for your meeting space or other expenses and your unit does not have reserves to cover refunds, parents will appreciate a clear explanation of why you’re not refunding their subscriptions. 

It remains your unit's responsibility to cover any ongoing unit expenses such as hall hire.

If I cancel a trip, we don't receive a refund – do I have to pay parents back?

If you’re able to claim any money back, or can claim on your own events insurance then do pass the refund onto parents. If there are non-recoverable costs that parents have already paid for then communicate as clearly as you can why you’re not able to make refunds.

It is likely that insurance companies will change their stance based on changing government advice – we’ll do our best to keep you updated, and you should contact your provider in the first instance.

Will there be financial help available to cover lost funds, e.g. if fundraising events we rely on are cancelled?

Across Girlguiding, there will be areas that suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus, and we will pull together to help everyone. We are aware that some areas are lucky enough to have reserves and we would encourage you to use these where possible. 

At HQ, we are looking into possible funding opportunities to help cover losses and we’ll keep you updated.

If you receive any grants locally, please do contact your funder to find out if they are making any emergency funding available.

I've been fundraising for a trip that can't go ahead – do I have to return the donations?

It depends on how you raised the money for the trip, and what you said to the donor at the time. Here are some examples:

  1. If you have been sponsored to do something to raise money for your trip and your trip is now cancelled, you need to contact each of your sponsors and let them know about the cancellation. You must ask them if they are happy for funds to still go towards the Girlguiding group who were going on the trip you were fundraising for, or if they want a refund. 
  2. If you held a bake sale/raffle/quiz night to raise money for your trip and your trip is now cancelled, refunds will not need to be made even though the trip is cancelled. The money must still be given to the charity you were raising money for, e.g your unit.

If you’re not sure, please look at the Girlguiding Donation Acceptance Policy or contact our friendly national Fundraising team by emailing [email protected] or calling 020 7834 6242.

Can my fundraising event go ahead?

You should follow UK Government advice on social distancing and reducing social interactions. We recommend you do a risk assessment of your event, and if then you decide it shouldn’t go ahead you should contact everyone involved and either cancel, postpone or look for an alternative event to hold instead.

I've cancelled my upcoming fundraising event because of coronavirus. What can I do?

Firstly, make sure all your attendees know the event is cancelled, and update any marketing materials like posters and social media to show the event is cancelled. Make sure everyone you were working with, like your venue, any caterers or entertainment know the event is cancelled check your insurance policy and contracts, so you know if you have incurred any costs. Secondly, plan an alternative! There’s lots of events using digital tools to bring people together online. Sites like Zoom or Google hangouts all enable people to get together remotely and some are even free to use. With people being asked to avoid direct contact, this could be a great way to keep in touch and give people something to do. Strava and Fitbit offer ways to share exercise-based achievements - why not change your fun run to a virtual fun run?

Do Girlguiding still need me to raise money for them even though units are not meeting?

Yes! We know that many units will be in a difficult financial position because of coronavirus. We’re working out how we can support them and we’re looking at ways of bringing our Girlguiding family together online during the next few weeks. All of this will require money to cover the costs - so please do continue to fundraise if you can.

Can I still sign up for a Charity Challenge event?

Check with the group who are running the challenge event to see if it's still going ahead, but yes – many charity challenges scheduled for later in the year and beyond are still accepting sign ups. Even if the event is postponed, Girlguiding nationally, regionally and locally needs your support now more than ever.

My unit still needs to raise money – how can I fundraise while following government advice?

There's lots of ways to take your fundraising online. You can sign your unit up to easyfundraising, a clever website that turns everyday online shopping from 4,000 retailers into free donations - and you don't need to have a charity number to use it. You could also host a virtual event on sites like Zoom or Google hangouts. With people being asked to avoid direct contact, these could be a great way to keep in touch and give people something to do - like a quiz with donations to take part. Strava and Fitbit offer ways to share exercise-based achievements such as run times, why not change your fun run to a virtual fun run and charge a small entry fee?

My unit, district or county owns a building. Can I still rent this out to non-Girlguiding bookings while guiding is suspended?


We’re committed to doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus so it’s very unlikely that it would be appropriate to rent a venue out for private use. There may be exceptions to this, for example if you are asked to provide space to host a community foodbank. Any bookings that are accepted during this time must be thoroughly risk assessed to ensure that they do not breach Government guidance to reduce the spread of the virus.

Are the national Activity Centres – Foxlease, Blackland Farm, Waddow Hall and ICANDO – still open?

We have taken the decision to cancel all bookings at our national Girlguiding Activity Centres – Foxlease, Blackland Farm, Waddow Hall and ICANDO – until 30 April. Our team will be in touch with those who have bookings to make alternative future arrangements.

Are events still happening at Foxlease, Blackland Farm, Waddow Hall and ICANDO?

We have taken the decision to cancel Twisted Tech and Magic and Mayhem, but we hope to be back with events later in the year.

Are events still happening that are organised by Girlguiding UK?

We are following the Government advice around non-essential contact and travel, and will review this on an ongoing basis. We have events spanning the calendar year and will continually assess whether to continue or postpone them as the situation evolves.

Is Big Gig going to be happening this year?

We are keeping an eye on the evolving situation and will look to organise Big Gig this year as soon as we can confirm that it will take place at a time when we can ensure the safety of the members, performers and staff who attend it.

Should I cancel events we've planned for after Thursday 30 April?

We're continuing to follow UK Government advice about how long Girlguiding activities will be suspended for.

Cancelling events in the future is a local judgement call, and you need to consider what the cancellation terms are if you cancel or postpone events sooner rather than later.

Our national Activity Centres – Waddow Hall, Blacklands Farm, ICANDO and Foxlease – are making decisions on a monthly rolling basis and will make a decision about May bookings from Tuesday 7 April.

My unit have a trip booked with PGL that we can't get refunded – what can I do?

We’ve been working closely with PGL and as of 23 March their centres are now temporarily closed until further notice. PGL are handling enquiries and prioritising these by planned trip date. If your trip was due to happen before 31 May 2020 you will be given the opportunity to move your booking to later in 2020 or 2021 which is in line with their terms and conditions.

Are The Duke of Edinburgh award expeditions cancelled?

At the moment, Girlguidng have asked that all expeditions are postponed until a time when they can be conducted safely. We will update our DofE networks when it's safe to proceed with them.

Is European Jamboree cancelled?

At the time of writing, European Jamboree has not been cancelled. As a safety measure, we are making all briefing weekends digital, and we are closely monitoring the situation. We will provide updates as we have them.

Should I let HQ know if a member has a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19?

No. At this stage you do not need to let Girguiding HQ know.

If there is a confirmed case, follow Government and health advice for where you live:

I understand that Girlguiding HQ is closed. Are the Safeguarding team still working?

Yes. All Girlguiding HQ staff are working from home. We are doing our best to provide the same service as normal, but please bear with us through inevitable teething problems.

While the Safeguarding team are already set up to work from home and working as normal, the emergency out of hours service will continue to operate. Please see our safety and safeguarding policy for more details.

Do I still need to do my A Safe Space training?

Level 1 and 2 can be completed online; please make sure you complete this if it's needed for your role.

Level 3 and 4 are currently delivered face to face only, but at the moment these won't be delivered by trainers either face to face or virtually. We'll still expect all volunteers to complete the appropriate training as soon as this becomes possible.

Will there be a virtual level 3 and 4 of the A Safe Space training available?

We're currently looking into how this will work; in the meantime this isn't an option, but we will update you very soon.

Trainers: please don't adapt level 3 and 4 content to be delivered online at this stage.

Will there be an extension on the 31 December deadline for completing A Safe Space training?

We're reviewing this as the situation develops and will update all volunteers if and when decisions are made.

What information can we share with people who may have come into contact with someone who's now self-isoltaing/experiencing symptoms?

From a data protection point of view, volunteers and parents in the volunteer’s regular unit can be informed, and any other volunteers present on the day can let their volunteers and parents know that a volunteer has possibly contracted the virus and that we advise that they look out for symptoms and follow UK Government Public Health England advice.

I've received a reminder that I need to start a disclosure check. I'm not volunteering and I can't get this completed whilst following guidance on social distancing. What do I do?

Volunteers in roles which involve regulated activity must have an up to date disclosure. Reminders will continue to be sent to make sure volunteers are aware that these need to be completed or renewed. We know that the recent Government guidance advising against all non-essential travel and social contact will mean many volunteers won’t be able to start their disclosure check. If you are affected by this or any other exceptional circumstance, let us know. Contact us at: [email protected]

I have outstanding actions from a complaints, compliance or safeguarding enquiry, do I have to continue with those requests?

As much as is possible yes. The complaints, compliance and safeguarding teams will continue to offer support to investigate and provide outcomes for concerns raised. In many cases this information can be gathered via email, skype and phone calls. If that's not possible and you're unable to progress an investigation, please let the relevant officer know. They will work with you to mitigate any risks and plan next steps.

I'm concerned about a young member who may have lost their school and Girlguiding support network, what can I do?

If you have concerns about a young member who may be more vulnerable without their school or guiding networks - please get in touch with Safeguarding to share your concerns on [email protected]

I'm concerned about an adult volunteer who has no Girlguiding support network, what can I do?

If you have concerns about a volunteer who may be more vulnerable without their social or guiding networks - please get in touch with Safeguarding to share your concerns on [email protected] 

I'm concerned that my Girlguiding training or disclosure check will expire while I am unable to renew it.  Will GO be amended to reflect this?

We're working through the different scenarios that people will face during this time, and will update this page as quickly as we can with answers to specific questions like this one.

Are membership cards still going to be sent out?

Yes, we are still on track to send out membership cards.

Is the London Girlguiding shop open?

The Girlguiding shop on Buckingham Palace Road is now closed.

Is the online shop open? 

Our online shop is now closed. You can still place orders but they won't be processed or delivered until we reopen.

If you have any questions that aren't answered in the FAQs above, please contact [email protected]