Coronavirus (Covid-19) - updates and FAQ
The latest guidance from Girlguiding about coronavirus (Covid-19)
Guiding during the Covid-19 outbreak – how lockdown affects how we can meet
Page last reviewed: 23 September 2020
- Units can now meet in person, indoors or outdoors, if they can meet local guidelines and follow our procedures. Check our safety procedures for in person meetings.
- The 'rule of 6' for group sizes does not apply to Girlguiding unit meetings. Units must still follow any local lockdown restrictions applied to their area.
- We have updated information for trainers about delivering 1st Response training.
- In-person ID verification for disclosure checks can now be done as long as local social distancing guidance is followed. Find our more in our recruitment and vetting procedures.
- We have information for commissioners on their role during the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Our London HQ office building is currently closed but Girlguiding staff are working from home and doing their best to provide the same service as normal.
We update this page 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 and the Crown dependencies (Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).
If you're a Girlguiding member overseas, check the local government advice your country. Contact the chief commissioner for BGO, [email protected], with any questions or concerns. You should not restart face to face guiding before you have spoken to the chief commissioner or your county commissioner.
We continue to stay up to date with UK government and Public Health England. We are following their advice as the situation evolves. Guidance might be different in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Crown dependencies, so we are monitoring that too.
We're also working with the National Youth Agency and the wider youth sector to keep up with the latest information for youth groups.
Take a look at the guidance for youth groups and youth organisations for your area:
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.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
I have a question about...
- In some areas, units can begin to meet in person. Find out more about staying safe when starting to meet again
- It’s important to support girls during this time, our blog on talking to girls about coronavirus will help. Unicef also have some helpful advice.
- You can stay connected with your unit using online video meetings. Read through our advice for online guiding and explore the collection of activities in our Adventure at home hub.
How can I welcome a new girl to my unit if we’re meeting online?
For units who are holding their meetings online, we have created a virtual guiding new starter form for new joiners. This can be filled out digitally and emailed back to you.
You and another adult volunteer should talk with the new starter and their parent or carer about how your unit is running during Covid-19. If you’re doing online guiding, talking over a video callcould be a chance to see if they can join online meetings.
Parents or carers will need to complete a virtual meeting consent form before you share any specific log-in details for your meetings.
All the things you do in your unit to keep girls safe still apply when we go online. So make sure you check our Safeguarding policy and Digital safeguarding policy before trying any online activity with girls or other volunteers.
What should I do if girls are due to transition to the next section?
If girls are due to move up a section, feel confident about it and have met with the new unit, then you can move her up by arranging a digital welcome meeting with her new unit, if they are not meeting in person.
If girls need more support, do not know the leader of the new section, or are worried about moving up at this time, then you can postpone their move date until they can meet their new unit in person.
If the new unit is meeting face to face, then girls can join their new unit in the usual way.
My girls were working on the transition route to the Gold award, will the timeframe for this be extended?
The Gold transition route deadline for all sections has been extended until the 18 December 2020 – the end of the Autumn term. This should allow enough flexibility for girls who are working on this.
Will programme materials be published online?
Thousands of girls have their badge books and are working on badges over lockdown. And we’ve made sure we have books for every girl in stock in our online shop.
We can’t put these resources online for a few reasons. One because we currently don’t have a way of offering paid-for downloads. And releasing the content for free would both impact the sales in our shop and be unfair to girls who already have their own paid-for copy.
The money generated from badge book sales, like everything in our online store, goes back into the organisation, funding future work for that helps girls and members.
If I have to cancel one element of the Queen's Guide award (eg residential), can I offer an extension for the award's completion?
Any elements of the Queen's Guide award that cannot go ahead due to the Covid-19 outbreak can be given an extension by their county coordinator.
Some sections of the award may still be able to be completed, so extensions will only be given for elements that have been postponed. For example, service in guiding, outdoor challenge or residential.
All Queen's Guide award participants are eligible for extensions, even if they are nearing their 26th birthday, and this extra time does not count as the 12 month break.
Visit our Queens Guide award guidance page to keep up to date with our latest advice.
Are all BGOs and Branch units also closed?
Different places around the world are at different stages of coming into or going out of lockdown because of coronavirus, so it varies across BGO and Branches. If you have questions about this, check with your commissioner in BGO.
- We have some information on funding opportunities that can help local guiding through the pandemic.
- If you’re not sure how to handle subs during this time, see our guidance on subs during coronavirus.
- Your unit might be eligible for a UK Units In Need grant if you are in immediate financial trouble. You should also talk to your county commissioner to find out if any hardship arrangements are available locally.
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. See our page on subs during coronavirus - which includes some template letters for parents - for more information.
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 do not have reserves to cover refunds, parents will appreciate a clear explanation of why you can’t refund 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 clearly explain why you’re not able to give refunds.
It's likely that insurance companies will change their stance based on changing government advice, contact your provider to understand your options.
I have a trip planned and I’m worried about insurance. What do I do if a final payment is needed, but the trip might be cancelled?
We know that this can be worrying, but we’re in unprecedented times and as long as you’ve looked at your options thoroughly to make the decision best for you and the group – that’s the best you can do.
To work out whether to pay a final instalment for a trip or not, or postpone, you need to think about the following things:
- What’s your insurer’s position on the situation? Check if it’s changed during the coronavirus pandemic and what they’re saying about any exclusions. Will they consider it as disinclination to travel if you choose not to go or will they continue to pay out?
- When is your trip? Speak to your insurer about the options - whether that’s postponing, rescheduling or cancelling.
- What’s in your terms and conditions? Some travel providers will cancel the trip if the final balance isn’t paid and you’ll lose the money already paid in. This might impact your rights to claim on insurance too – always read the small print.
- How much money have you already paid in and might lose? If it’s a small deposit that won’t be a big loss, it might make more financial sense to cancel without paying further.
- What impact will this decision have on the trip attendees and how you will you manage changes in numbers if people aren’t able to come anymore – will you replace them? Can you offer refunds?
- Have you updated parents? It may seem obvious but it’s good to be upfront with parents about the situation, as they might be worried too.
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:
- 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 or if they want a refund.
- If you held a bake sale/raffle/quiz night to raise money for your trip and your trip is now cancelled, you won’t need to give refunds even though the trip is cancelled. The money muststill be given to the charity you were raising money for, eg your unit.
- If you received a grant from a trust, foundation or local guiding and your trip has been postponed or cancelled, you need to get in touch with the organisation or group that gave you the grant and let them know what has happened. Include details of any non-refundable expenses that you’ve spent the grant on and ask what they’d like you to do with the grant. They may ask for the grant, or what remains of it, to be returned or they may be happy to allow you to keep hold of it to be used when the trip isrescheduled or put towards another project.
Can my fundraising event go ahead?
You should follow UK government advice on social distancing and reducing social interactions when running any events.
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. 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 are lots of ways to take your fundraising online. You can sign your unit up to easyfundraising, 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 using 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.
My unit, district or county owns a building. Can I still rent this out to non-Girlguiding bookings?
We’re committed to doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus so you must always keep this in mind. But if you are owners of the property, this is your decision.Take a look at our advice on managing property during coronavirus.
Any bookings that are accepted during this time must be thoroughly risk assessed to ensure that they do not breach current government guidance to reduce the spread of the virus.
I'm part of a management committee that looks after a Girlguiding property. What is the guidance for managing buildings during this time?
You’ll also need to check the relevant government guidance on managing property during this time. For campsites and activity centres guidance can be found on the UK government website.
- Our activity centres – Foxlease, Blackland Farm, Waddow Hall and ICANDO – are now open for family bubble camping, in line with government advice. Check our activity centres website for full details.
- Some of our national events have been cancelled due to the outbreak. To check the status of our events like Twisted Tech, Big Gig and Fearless Fun, take a look at our detailed event information.
Should I cancel events we've planned for later in the year?
Cancelling events scheduled for the future is a local decision.You’ll need to think about what the cancellation terms are if you cancel or postpone events sooner rather than later.
We're continuing to follow UK government advice on how long we should suspend Girlguiding activities and events for.
Our national activity centres are making decisions on a monthly rolling basis and have decided to cancel events until 30 September.
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 since the start of the lockdown. As of 23 March their centres were closed until further notice.
PGL are currently handling all enquiries and prioritising these by planned trip date. While their centres are closed, you'll be given the opportunity to move your booking to later in 2020 or any time in 2021, in line with their terms and conditions.
Can we do any Duke of Edinburgh's and Queens Guide award expeditions and explorations?
While we can’t do overnight stays, you can do Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE) expeditions using some of the DofE’s flexibilities. Please visit our DofE and Queens Guide award guidance pages to keep up to date with our latest advice.
When can I plan residentials and travel internationally?
Currently, no residentials are allowed. We will keep monitoring government guidance on social distancing and lift this restriction when it is safe to do so.
When making plans for the future please consider that Girlguiding will always abide by foreign office and government advice on trips with young people and specific country advice. If you are planning events for the future be sure to read the cancellation policy carefully and take out appropriate travel insurance.
What should I do if a member tests positive for Covid-19?
If there's a confirmed case of coronavirus in your unit, you should suspend unit meetings immediately for 2 weeks. Everyone who attended, leaders, volunteers and any visitors, should follow track and trace procedures. If you hire your meeting venue, you should let the property managers know as well.
The member who tested positive should self-isolate and follow Government and health advice for their area:
You do not need to let HQ know about confirmed cases.
What should I do if a member comes to a meeting with Covid-19 symptoms?
If you're worried by a member’s symptoms, you should contact their parent/carer and ask for them to be collected, or send them home immediately.
Encourage them to seek testing. If they test postive for coronavirus, you'll need to suspend unit meetings immediately for 2 weeks and follow track and trace procedures.
Do I still need to do my A Safe Space training?
Yes. Level 1 and 2 can be completed online as e-learnings. And we are now able to also train Levels 3 and 4 on a virtual platform. Ask your commissioner about how this is delivered in your area or contact your country or region office. We expect all volunteers to complete the appropriate training levels needed for your role as soon as this becomes possible.
Will you extend the 31 December deadline for completing A Safe Space training?
Now that we can deliver all levels again, keeping everyone safe is our priority. By 31 December 2020 everyone needs to have the correct level of A Safe Space training for their role. You can now do Level 3 and 4 virtually, contact your country or region office for details of upcoming trainings in your area.
What information can we share with people who might have had contact with someone who's now self-isolating or experiencing symptoms?
From a data protection point of view, volunteers and parents in the persons regular unit can be informed.
Any other volunteers present on the day can let their unit’s volunteers and parents know that a member has possibly contracted the virus. We advise that they look out for symptoms and follow the public health advice where they live.
I've received a reminder that I need to start a disclosure check. I'm not volunteering at the moment, and I can't complete the check whilst following guidance on social distancing. What do I do?
Volunteers in roles which involve regulated activity must have an up to date disclosure check.
As this was not possible during the early stages of lockdown, we have extended the recheck deadline. Check the disclosure section of your GO record to see your new, extended disclosure expiry date.
Disclosure check can now start up again if social distancing measures are followed. Your local ID verifier or commissioner will be in touch to make arrangements with you, or you can check our updated information on ID verification.
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, video meetings and phone calls. If that's not possible and you're unable to progress an investigation, let the relevant team know. They can work with you to mitigate any risks and plan next steps.
I'm concerned about a young member or an adult volunteer who has lost their Girlguiding support network during the outbreak, what can I do?
If you have concerns about a member who may be more vulnerable at this without their social or guiding networks, get in touch with the Safeguarding team to share your concerns on [email protected]
Do I need to have completed Level 3 A Safe Space training to run online meetings?
We always need to make sure that unit meetings are safe, whether they’re in person or online. We’d recommend that at least one volunteer in an online meeting has completed Level 3. Make sure you check out our guidance for safe guiding online.
What happens if my 1st response training expires while there is no training being delivered?
Following Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance, if your first response qualification was due to expire by September, your expiry date will now be extended until 30 September and your GO record will be updated. This date will be reviewed as the coronavirus situation changes.
Our 1st Response refresher training can now be delivered virtually. These trainings will be organised and run locally by Girlguiding trainers. Some practical elements do need to be checked in-person, following local government guidance.
The procedure for updating GO records remains the same.
Do I need to do any additional cleaning or make any modifications as a 1st Response trainer?
We recommend all trainers read the statement from The Resuscitation Council. This will tell you what you need to do in all training situations.
Mannikins should already be cleaned to the standard needed to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
Will I be liable if someone contracts Covid-19 at a Girlguiding meeting?
Girlguiding’s public liability insurance covers anyone attending a Girlguiding meeting, event or activity against claims of injury, harm or damage unless they have acted deliberately negligently. This means that leaders won't be held personally liable for any accident or an illness contracted as long as they have taken all due care and attention to mitigate the risks, filled out a riks assessment and followed our policies, procedures and guidance.
We have extended 1st Response training and disclosure check renewal dates. See the Safety and safeguarding information above for full details.
Can I still work on my Leadership qualification during this time?
Although face-to-face meetings and trainings are currently suspended, you can still complete e-learnings for your Leadership qualification.
We know that online unit meetings are very different to face-to-face ones, so we don’t recommend completing module 1 until you can meet your unit in person.
You and your mentor might want to hold your mentoring meetings virtually and then arrange for your LQ book to be signed later. Take a look at our guidance on online guiding for some recommended platforms for video calls.
Is the London Girlguiding shop open?
The Girlguiding shop on Buckingham Palace Road is closed.
Is the online shop open?
Our online shop is open and our brilliant range of badges, badge books and gifts are available.
Is there any guidance on opening volunteer shops?
We know that all volunteer shops operate differently. So we recommend you do a risk assessment on re-opening and follow the UK government guidance on any precautions and safety measures you’ll need to put in place.
- In some areas units are now able to start planning face to face meetings. Take a look at our guidance on starting to meet againto find out the steps you need to take to make sure this is safe.
What cleaning do I need to do in indoor venues?
Cleaning needs to be an essential part of ensuring we are Covid safe when we return to indoor meeting.
Plans for thorough cleaning should be included in your risk assessments, including when it will be done during your meeting time, and who will be responsible for carrying it out.
When we talk about thorough cleaning, we mean:
- Increased frequency. It's essential to clean before meetings, in between consecutive meetings and after the meetings have ended.
- Pay particular attention to frequently touched surfaces and frequently used areas. For example door handles, window latches, toilet flush, soap dispensers, taps.
- Remove any unnecessary items. Taking things out of the meeting space means they won't be touched and will make cleaning more straightforward.
- Reusable equipment should be, where possible, replaced with disposable versions. For example, use paper towels in the toilet, instead of a hand towel.
- If you rent the space from someone else, find out from them who'll be responsible for the cleaning. They might have an employed cleaner or designated member of their team who is responsible.
Can we meet outdoors at a venue owned by Girlguiding and use the toilet facilities?
If Girlguiding property is open and there is outdoor space, then you can hold outdoor meetings and activities there.
Include the toilets in your risk assessment. Make sure they are frequently cleaned, and that social distancing is possible. It's important to take steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on the premises.
Can units start meeting outdoors in private gardens?
No, not yet, to keep safe and compliant it needs to be a blanket rule for all.
- Volunteers would have to go above and beyond to stay Covid-secure if we asked them to follow government guidance and National Youth Agency guidance for Providers of Outdoor Facilities for Sport and Recreation under DofE guidelines in their own gardens.
- Our disclosure checks do not cover home working which guiding at home would fall under.
- It is not inclusive for all who, in the majority, would not be able to access face-to-face guiding in gardens that are big enough and that have a separate toilet facility.
How can we stay socially distanced when giving first aid?
Treating the accident or incident properly should always be your first concern. But you should take some extra steps to keep things safe during Covid-19.
If possible, ask the injured member to do things for you. They can follow your guidance to treat themselves, so you can help from a safe distance and reduce the time you spend close to each other. For example, you could demonstrate to a girl how she can clean a wound and apply a plaster, while she follows along.
There is some extra recommended equipment that should be added to your first aid kit:
- A fluid-repellent surgical mask
- Disposable gloves
- Eye protection
- Apron or other suitable body covering
- Alcohol-based hand sanitiser
The Resuscitation Council UK has provided guidance on chest compression only CPR for children.
For BGO and Branches you should check the first aid and community guidance that your country / region has produced.
What first aid cover should be provided at meetings?>
All meetings need to have a qualified first aider present.
Most of the time this will be a Girlguiding volunteer with a valid 1st Response qualification or an approved external first aid qualification.
If the venue or provider you are using provides first aid cover, this will count as having a first aider. Let your commissioner if this is the case.
We know that our members have not been able to do face to face training, including 1st response training, during lockdown. So, we’ve extended the deadline for renewing some qualifications. Any 1st Response qualification that was due to expire between 17 March and 30 September will have an extended expiry date until 30 September.
Can I hold multiple 'bubble' meetings in the same space?
Different parts of the UK have different guidance on how many people can meet up - take a look at our summary of the different nations' rules if you're unsure, or check your local restrictions.
If you have enough volunteers to hold activities with multiple 'bubbles' in the same large space then you can. All attendees must stay in their own groups with the correct adult:child ratios followed. That means that leaders cannot be shared between groups, and there must be enough qualified first aiders and volunteers with current DBS/AccessNI/PVG.
You should clearly mark out the area that each group is using.
Can we serve food at activities?
All activities, including serving food, must be carefully risk assessed to reduce risk of spreading Covid-19. Good hygiene practice must be followed and anyone handling food must wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
This should be done routinely, including before and after handling food, when moving between different areas of the space, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Coughs and sneezes should be caught in a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
Can my unit sing in our meetings?
Because the space you meet in will affect the risk level of singing at this time, this activity should be risk assessed on a case by case basis. We recommend that you only sing in outdoor meetings. But if your indoor meeting venue has plenty of space for social distancing and is well ventilated, then with a risk assessment you might be able to safely sing together.
In Scotland, units should follow the guidance from YouthLink. This means no singing at indoor or outdoor meetings.
What if my commissioner won't sign off my risk assessment for face to face guiding?
The process for the outdoor and indoor meeting checklist and risk assessment should work in the same way as the Residential Event Notification form that you complete before taking girls away overnight.
If your commissioner has not signed off your risk assessment, it’s best to talk to them about it. They might have questions about your planning or could ask you to make changes that will help you to reduce risk and keep members safe.
If you have any questions that aren't answered in the FAQs above, please contact [email protected]