Managing Concerns about Adult Volunteers policy

This policy explains the circumstances in which Girlguiding will proactively intervene if we have concerns about an adult volunteers' conduct

Statement of purpose

As Girlguiding adult volunteers you are part of a diverse group of people from all walks of life, each with unique skills and experiences.

You are united by an important responsibility: to help girls and young women reach their full potential through great guiding experiences and by always being a positive role model.

Girlguiding will give you support and management to make sure that you are always clear on this responsibility, on what we expect from you and on the standards of behaviour you must reach.

Part of our management of volunteers includes taking action if we have concerns about an adult volunteer's conduct. This can be for a number of reasons, for example a lack of self-awareness or not understanding what is expected of you as a volunteer.

In these circumstances Girlguiding might have to formally manage that person’s role and/or their membership.   When we do this we always aim to do it with respect and sensitivity.

The Adult Volunteers policy explains the circumstances in which Girlguiding will proactively intervene to manage adult volunteers’ behaviour.  Please see Managing Concerns about Adult Volunteers procedures for processes that apply.


Adult Volunteers - means anyone over 18 years of age who gives their time to Girlguiding without being paid. This covers all volunteering roles within Girlguiding, including volunteers who have a leadership role; or who work directly with girls or who are supporting members with no direct contact with girls. An Adult Volunteer may also be a member of Girlguiding.

Breach - means not meeting our Expectations. 

Commissioner - means a volunteer manager including Country, Region, County, Division or District level. 

Expectations – these are explained below

Girlguiding - means the Guide Association (registered charity no. 306016) and all local units, Countries, Regions, Counties, Divisions and Districts.

HQ - means the headquarters of Girlguiding.

Relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer - means a member of staff of Girlguiding or a Commissioner.

The relevant staff - means the Girlguiding Safeguarding team for any matter involving child protection or safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. For any other matter it will mean the Compliance team.

Young Member - means anyone who is under 18 years of age and is a member of Girlguiding.

What are Girlguiding's 'Expectations'?

In this Policy we refer to our 'Expectations'. These are set out in our:

When does this policy apply?

This policy applies where, in the reasonable opinion of a relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer, an Adult Volunteer has not met our Expectations.

There are a number of ways we may be advised of this, for example:

  • a complaint from an Adult Volunteer, Young Member, parent, member of the public or Girlguiding staff, made at local level or to HQ
  • a reported safeguarding concern
  • a report by a whistleblower
  • an observation by a relevant Girlguiding officer or volunteer
  • dismissal of an employee by HQ
  • removal of a trustee by HQ.

Where a concern is raised under one of our policies an investigation will take place in accordance with the relevant policy, as considered appropriate by HQ. For example, any concerns relating to safeguarding will be investigated in keeping with our specific procedures for investigating safeguarding matters.  In all other circumstances, an investigation will take place in accordance with this policy.

Where an Adult Volunteer is also an employee of the Guide Association we will treat any dismissal or disciplinary action as a serious breach of our Expectations and may apply sanctions under this policy in respect of any other volunteering role undertaken by that Adult Volunteer.

Where an Adult Volunteer is also a trustee of the Guide Association we will treat any removal as a trustee, or steps taken in respect of removal, as a serious breach of our Expectations and may apply sanctions under this policy in respect of any other volunteering role undertaken by that Adult Volunteer.

What is the investigation process?

Where Girlguiding considers that an Adult Volunteer may not have met our Expectations an investigation will be carried out by an unbiased investigator, usually a Commissioner. The investigation process will be carried out in accordance with the appropriate policy and its related procedures (Safeguarding, Whistleblowing or Complaints).


It may be necessary to apply a sanction under this policy before and/or once an investigation has been completed. The processes and sanctions will usually be applied by a Commissioner who will be supported by their volunteer line manager, region staff and the appropriate HQ staff. 

Who do sanctions affect?

Sanctions applied under this policy apply to all Adult Volunteer roles across Girlguiding.

Where the Adult Volunteer is involved with Trefoil Guild, the Scout Association or other organisations we consider relevant, Girlguiding may share the fact that a sanction has been applied and the reasons why and evidence relied on with these organisations.

Can an Adult Volunteer appeal a decision?

An Adult Volunteer has the right to request an appeal of any permanent sanction under this Policy where they consider that the sanction is wrong or unjust. The appeal must be made in writing to the Director of Operations or the Chief Guide within 28 days of being informed of the decision, setting out in detail why it is wrong or unjust to apply the sanction and enclose any new evidence or information relied on. They will nominate an objective person or panel to review the appeal.

Are actions taken under this policy and its procedures confidential?

Information relating to investigations and sanctions applied under this policy will be treated sensitively. It will not routinely be shared with other Adult Volunteers (other than Commissioners), Young Members or parents, unless appropriate.

It may sometimes be necessary to share the fact of, or the basis for a sanction being applied in certain circumstances, for example, to comply with our legal obligations or to make sure we are complying with our policies.  This would only be done when sufficiently serious as to be in the public interest.

Further information about how we share information is in our Data Protection policy

Published: 10 May 2017

Girlguiding policies and procedures are reviewed and updated from time to time as part of a review cycle.