Managing concerns about adult volunteers policy

This policy explains when Girlguiding with get involved if there are concerns about the way an adult volunteer behaves

Approved: 27 April 2019
Version: 2
Content owner: Safe Practice

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're united by an important responsibility: to help girls and young women reach their full potential through great guiding experiences and by being positive role models.

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 proactively intervene to formally manage an adult volunteer’s behaviour. When we do this we always aim to do it with respect and sensitivity.

This policy sets out the approach Girlguiding will take when we have concerns and how a person’s role or their membership may be affected.

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 staff member 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 staff member 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, including any concern through association.
  • A report by a whistleblower.
  • An observation by a Girlguiding volunteer or member of staff.
  • Dismissal of an employee.
  • Removal of a trustee.

Where someone raises a concern under one of our policies we will investigate in accordance with the relevant policy. For example, we will investigate any concerns relating to safeguarding in keeping with our specific procedures for investigating safeguarding matters.

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 to any of their volunteering roles.

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 to any other of their volunteering roles.

What is the investigation process?

Where Girlguiding considers that an adult volunteer may not have met our expectations, an unbiased investigator - usually a commissioner - will carry out an investigation. The investigation process will be carried out in accordance with the appropriate policy and its related procedures.

An investigation will aim to address the specific concerns raised, gather all relevant evidence and establish the full circumstances behind that concern. Based on findings the concerns will be dismissed or upheld. Where concerns are upheld sanctions may be applied to an adult volunteer’s Girlguiding membership.


It may be necessary to apply a sanction under this policy before or during an investigation, or once an investigation has been completed. A commissioner will usually apply the processes with support from their volunteer manager, region staff and the relevant HQ staff. 

Who do sanctions affect?

Sanctions applied under this policy apply to all adult volunteer roles across Girlguiding.

Where an adult volunteer is also a young member (applies until September 2019), we will consider the effect any serious breach of our expectations may have on their continued involvement under Girlguiding’s risk assessment and safeguarding policy.

Where there has been a serious breach in relation to a safeguarding concern, a referral will be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Disclosure Scotland.

As an adult volunteer, can I appeal a decision?

As an adult volunteer you have the right to request an appeal for the following sanctions placed upon you: restriction, withdrawal or dismissal, under this policy.

The only reasons for which an appeal will be granted are:

  • New information or evidence is brought forward which may change the outcome.
  • Our policy, procedure or investigation process has not been followed.

You’ll find details on the appeals process here.

Are actions taken under this policy and its procedures confidential?

Information relating to investigations and sanctions applied under this policy will be treated in line with our managing information policy.

A person has the right to be told the nature of the evidence upon which a concern has been raised about them. This doesn't mean that the full original concern, complaint or any witness statement will be shared, however we will provide a fair summary.

While we make every effort to ensure someone’s identity is not revealed without their consent, it may be that the nature of the allegations or evidence indicates their source.

If you’d like to know more about how and why we process your personal data, please refer to our privacy notice.

N.B This policy does not apply to HQ Trustees, please see HQ Trustees Code of Conduct.