Going on residentials
How to plan and run your own residential events
Going away with your unit is a great adventure for you and the girls
There are a host of organised residential activities you can attend with your unit without needing a Going Away With licence – but if you want to give your girls a more bespoke experience, why not run your own?
How to run your own residential
First, decide with your girls where and when you will do your residential. This could be indoors or outdoors, on a boat, in a yurt, close or far from home. Then complete the following.
Qualifications – to run your own residential event, someone in your event leadership team must hold, or be working towards, the relevant modules of the Girlguiding Going Away With scheme. Speak to your commissioner about completing the Scheme as early as possible.
You need to ensure you have a licence holder in a ratio of at least 1:50. Events with 100 or more participants in total are defined as large-scale events.
Residential Event Notification
Speak to your commissioner and send her a completed Residential Event Notification (REN) form with any relevant risk assessments at the start of your planning. The REN form needs to be completed on a device such as a desktop computer, laptop or tablet. We’d recommend these as opposed to mobile. Save the document before completing it to make sure you don't lose any data.
Your commissioner will consult the relevant adviser and confirm approval for your event.
For international events, you must first get permission to plan from your commissioner before you can submit the Residential Event Notification. Use an International residential permission to plan form (PDF). You should use the international form for any event that involves staying in or travelling through a country or countries outside the UK, including Ireland.
What to include in the draft risk assessment and activity plan for the Residential Event Notification part 1
A draft risk assessment must include any immediate risks notes when visiting the site of from knowledge. It is not expected at 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, and 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 delivery your programme: i.e. if you are planning a walk, is a walking qualification required?
This is a fluid document and can change up to submitting the final REN.
Booking venues in advance
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 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 your venue. Authorisation is also necessary in order for Girlguiding insurance cover to be valid for the activities you are planning.
What happens if you get your REN returned due to queries
Make sure you read the guidance notes at the start of the REN document before completing it. 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, and further guidance will be released in 2019.
What to do if you can't get the REN form to your commissioner within the required time
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.
When to start using the updated form
Start using the updated forms as soon as possible. If you already have a REN form that has been approved past part 1 you may continue – all other forms should be completed on the latest version.
Why we've updated REN forms
The updates will help us manage known risks, which include safeguarding and compliance with Girlguiding policies. The new forms will help guide the commissioner and volunteer through a step by step process and support good planning. Provided the guidance notes are followed, the REN forms should not unduly increase paperwork.
Our process for reviewing the forms
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). Looking at the feedback that has been sent to HQ, a number of themes were identified as areas to change in the review, whilst still adhering to principles of best practice. Changes to the form have been developed with a working group of lead and specialist volunteers for consultation and input.
REN forms on GO
We are exploring whether there is a possibility to have REN forms on GO in the future. GO does not currently have this capability. For now you will need to continue downloading the form from the website and completing it manually.
Informing parents and carers
- You must gain permission from parents using the information and consent form (PDF).
- Parents of under 16s and participants over 16 must complete a health information form (PDF).
- Parents must have the opportunity to meet the leaders prior to the event and have all plans explained to them.
- An emergency contact must be available to collect young members if necessary.
- A home contact must be in place for the event.
Event leadership team
It is important you have a supportive team of volunteers to help you run a residential event. You will need the following people:
- License holder – responsible for planning the event, including appointing teams for catering, health and first aid.
- First Aider – must have attended a suitable and valid first aid course such as 1st Response or a professional similar or higher level course. There must be at least one other adult present with first aid knowledge. If the first aider is male, a female must be present when a member is being treated. A female should deal with girls’ personal hygiene queries and needs.
- Caterer – responsible for supplying food and equipment, and all food hygiene. Anyone over 18 who is familiar with food hygiene requirements can be a caterer. A qualification is not required for this role but those wishing to increase their knowledge can complete the Girlguiding Catering scheme.
You must also make sure:
- You have set up a home contact system.
- You have enough adults in your team to maintain section ratios as outlined below.
- All volunteers aged 18 or over who are staying overnight have completed the recruitment and vetting procedure.
- All non-member volunteers are assigned the role of residential occasional helper on GO and undertake a criminal records check. You can find out more about criminal records checks in our recruitment and vetting procedures.
- Young Leaders are supervised at all times by adult volunteers, as they are not included in ratios
- You take any families and children of volunteers at residential events into account.
There is no maximum number of adults at a residential, but make sure the number means girls have the opportunity to take responsibility and do some things for themselves.
The venue must be approved by the relevant host adviser. If the venue has not already been approved, notify the adviser in plenty of time for the venue to be inspected before you make firm plans. You should also follow these regulations:
- If Brownies or Rainbows are staying in a youth hostel or hotel, the sleeping, washing and toilet facilities must be self-contained, and girls must sleep in rooms close to those occupied by the leaders.
- If Brownies or Rainbows are camping, in case there's bad weather, the licence holder must make sure that there is solid shelter available or make prior arrangements with parents or guardians to take girls home.
- If Guides, Rangers and members of The Senior Section are camping, in case there's bad weather, the licence holder must make sure that there is alternative shelter available (this could be a solid shelter or temporary structure, such as a mess tent or marquee) or make prior arrangements with parents or guardians to take girls home.
- If adults share a sleeping area with under 18s, there must be at least two adults present.
- Lilos and sun loungers are not to be used as beds.
- If male volunteers or male children are present, there must be separate sleeping and bathroom facilities for them.
- If the venue is not normally used for overnight accommodation (for example a church or school hall), the local police and fire service need to be informed that the sleepover is taking place.
- If you're planning to use Home hospitality you must follow Girlguiding guidance.
- If you are using a caravan for a residential on a site that is a) not Girlguiding or Scout run and b) does not have a caravan licence, please contact [email protected] at least two months in advance of the planned event.
- If you are planning to use a tented village, please see our guidance on tented villages (PDF).
For joint or multi-section residentials, at least one leader from all participating sections must be present, and the correct ratio for each section must be observed.
- Maintain adult to child ratios of 1:4 (not including the Event Coordinator) with a maximum of 30 Rainbows. There must be at least three adults present at all times.
- Rainbow overnight events must not exceed 24 hours, including travel, from when care of the girls is transferred to the leader.
- Rainbows must not travel abroad for overnight events.
- Rainbows may attend a sleepover with other sections provided the total number of Rainbows does not exceed 30.
- All of the adults present should be known to the Rainbows, and all Rainbows must be accompanied by a leader from their own unit.
- If the licence holder is not a Rainbow leader, a Rainbow leader should be involved in planning and be present at the event.
- The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends that no child under the age of six sleeps in the top bunk. Seek parental permission if younger girls will need to sleep in top bunks.
- The venue should be close enough for a parent to collect their child should the need arise.
- Maintain an adult to child ratio of 1:6, with at least three adults present, or two at the commissioner's discretion.
- If going away without their own leader, each Brownie must have met at least one member of the leadership team prior to the event.
- If Brownies are staying in separate buildings (such as chalets or static caravans), there must be at least two leaders, helpers or young leaders present in each building.
- A maximum of four Brownies aged nine or over may visit a Guide residential, as long as four adults are present.
Maintain an adult to child ratio of 1:12, with at least three adults present, or two at the commissioner's discretion.
- There is no required adult to child ratio for a Senior Section residential, but there must be at least two adults present, or one at the commissioner's discretion.
- If over 18s and under 18s share sleeping areas, there must be at least two over 18s present.
- Where all members of a Senior Section trip are over 18, a Residential Event Notification form (REN) and home contact agreement aren’t essential for home and international events. Volunteers should still carry out effective and detailed planning in line with our risk assessment policy.