FAQs - Residential Event Notification form and home contact role

Everything you need to know about the recent changes

Compliance team
24 Apr 2018

We recently made changes to our Residential Event Nofication form and UK home contact role. Here's everything you need to know about the changes.

About the new Residential Event Notification form 

Why do we have a new Residential Event Notification form?

Volunteers told us they wanted an updated form to make it easier for both leaders in charge and commissioners. The form was developed by volunteers and staff.

Why have you introduced a permission to plan form for international residentials?

An international residential has greater risks and requires more planning than a residential in the UK. To support the leader in charge with the planning process, we developed the permission to plan form so that they can let their commissioner know much earlier what they’re proposing. The commissioner and her advisers can then review the plans and provide the leader in charge with guidance, feedback and support.

The changes to forms have increased the amount of paperwork

Provided the guidance notes are followed, the new forms should not unduly increase paperwork. The changes will, however, help us manage known risks which include safeguarding. We believe the new forms will help guide the commissioner and volunteer through a step by step process and support good planning

What was the process for changing the forms and who was involved?

The changes to the forms have been made to reflect best practice and to address safeguarding issues that can arise during a residential (particularly international). They have been co-designed with lead volunteers. They have been informed by learning from incidents and feedback from volunteers. They have been reviewed and approved by chief commissioners

Why has the lead in time for the Residential Event Notification increased?

The four weeks’ notice period didn’t provide enough time for advisers and commissioners as it didn’t account for commissioners’ holidays or if a leader needed to complete an assessment and have a mentor assigned to her. In many cases accommodation has to be booked more than three months in advance and parents also require longer to pay deposits and the final balance. 12 weeks is much more realistic and will allow for thorough planning.

How much detail do I need to provide in the draft risk assessment and activity plan for the Residential Event Notification part 1?

A draft risk assessment must include any immediate risks noted when visiting the site or from knowledge. It is not expected as this stage to include any member or girl specific entries. This is a working document and does not need to be completed in full at this point. Some buildings/sites do have a risk assessment that can be used as a starting document. Previous risk assessments completed for similar events can also be amended and updated.

The outline of activity plan is to show what activities you are considering on your residential or what is available as part of the programme and can be used to look at what else may need to be completed to deliver your programme. I.e. if you are planning a walk, is a walking qualification required, if including climbing are the correct qualifications held.

This is a fluid document and can change up to submitting the final REN.

Venues need to be booked well in advance. Will I lose my deposit if my Residential Event Notification is not signed off?

There is no change to the process that authorisation from your commissioner must be obtained before you start to formalise a residential or large scale event. You should therefore submit your permission to plan (for international events) or your REN part 1 to your commissioner and get authorisation before you pay a deposit for a venue. Authorisation is also necessary in order for Girlguiding insurance cover to be valid for the activities you are planning.

What happens if I get my Residential Event Notification returned due to queries?

Please read the guidance notes when completing the REN forms together with these FAQs. Make sure that you include all the attachments that the form asks for. The most common reason REN forms are returned by a commissioner with a query is due to the risk assessment not being satisfactory. Level 3 A Safe Space training includes risk assessments

Is there guidance as to how to use the Residential Event Notification and permission to plan forms?

Yes there’s guidance for completing both the REN and permission to plan forms.

When should I start using these forms?

As soon as possible. We understand that the timescales may not fit exactly for everyone for this summer’s residentials. However, we ask that you use the forms and provide as much notice as you can. From 1 September 2018, we’ll expect you to meet the timescales indicated on the forms.

What do I do about a residential that I have already started planning and have used the old Residential Event Notification form? Do I need to start again?

No, if you have already submitted a REN form please continue with the form you have used. There is no need to start again or duplicate.

What happens if I cannot get the Residential Event Notification form to my commissioner within the required time?

If you’re running a residential this summer then please give as much notice as possible. From 1 September you must follow the timescales laid out in the new REN forms.

The guidance states that there may be times when you may not be able to meet the timescale (perhaps because an opportunity arises that does not give quite enough notice). Provided you’re able to satisfy your commissioner that you can get all your planning in place and safely do the residential, you may be able to go ahead. This is called exceptional circumstances and is at the discretion of your commissioner

If I am doing a residential which is just across the border (eg Republic of Ireland) do I need to use the UK or International form?

You should use the international form for any event that involves staying in or travelling through a country or countries outside the UK.

Do forms need to be submitted to the host advisor?

No there is no requirement for forms to be send to a host advisor

I have noticed that the event co-ordinator section is no longer there, is this detail required?

This has been removed as these details are not necessarily relevant to the home commissioner when authorising a REN as they are unable to check their details on GO. Your commissioner is checking that you as leader in charge have in place what you need to complete the residential, whether this is an organised event where you do not require a licence or are the license holder. If you feel that any of the information you would normally provide here is relevant please place this information in the event details box.

Are there plans to have the Residential Event Notification form on GO so that completion is easier?

GO does not currently have this capability. We are exploring whether this is a possibility in the future. However, for now you will need to continue downloading the form from the website and completing it manually

About the Home Contact Agreement

When do I need a home contact?

You need to arrange for a home contact when you are running a residential (UK or international) or, if you are planning an activity which will take place outside of your usual meeting place and time, such as a day trip or visit to the theatre.

If I’m taking my unit away from our usual meeting place but at the normal time, do I need a home contact?

This is something you need to consider as part of your risk assessment. Where the activity takes place outside of the usual place but during your normal time, you may consider whether a home contact would be useful. For example, where you start and end at the usual meeting place and time but you spend all or some of the time at another location, your risk assessment will help you identify what you need to do. This could include arranging a home contact as an appropriate way to help manage the risks as well as ensure parents/carers are kept informed of any changes or unexpected complications. In this case, having the home contact would be at your discretion. See our guidance on activities for further guidance.

What do I need to give the home contact when I am running an activity that is not a residential?

You can find this information by using the home contact agreement for UK events.

Can a Trefoil member or Scout member be a home contact?

No, in order to be a home contact the person must be an active member or recognised volunteer with Girlguiding (ie they are on GO and have been through recruitment checks required for the role they hold on GO).

I am worried it may make it difficult to find someone to be home contact for a long trip if I cannot ask someone who is not in Girlguiding

In order to comply with data protection rules and our safeguarding policy it is essential that home contacts are only those who are within Girlguiding because we are sharing confidential and personal information for which we have consent for Girlguiding to hold, not a third party

You can arrange for more than one person to be home contact during the time you are away so that one person does not need to be available all of the time. You should make sure if you do this, that you agree a schedule so you and they know who is responsible on what dates. It does not have to be a leader. They can be a commissioner or adviser for example.

Who is home commissioner?

The home commissioner is the commissioner who has signed your REN form so you can get these details from GO

The Home Contact Agreement says emergency contacts have to be from different addresses. This is not what it says on the health information form and consent form

This is because we have been tasked to update the REN and home contact information first. We have not yet reviewed and updated the health information form or consent form. This is scheduled to take place. In the meantime, we have included this requirement in the home contact form to reflect best practice.

Why do the emergency contacts have to be from different addresses?

It is preferable for the two emergency contacts provided to be from different addresses. The emergency contact is someone you will need to be able to get hold of quickly and easily (ie their phone has a signal). For that reason, it is best practice to have them at different addresses to maximise the chance of getting hold of someone immediately.

What if parents do not want information shared with a home contact?

This is part of Girlguiding’s procedures for keeping it’s members safe and is therefore a requirement for taking part in activities that are residential or off site.

Do I need to provide health information and consent forms to the home contact whenever I run a residential or activity off site?

No. You should not share this information with the Home Contact.

If I am a home contact I will be responsible for holding confidential information, can I go out?

The role of home contact should not mean someone cannot go about their usual business. It means that the person is agreeing to be available for the period of the event (or certain times and dates if sharing with another) to deal with an emergency.

It has always been the case that the home contact is expected to hold information relating to the event, including details of participants. This is not new. As for any volunteer who is holding personal/sensitive information about individuals they must keep it securely and not take unnecessary risks