Following the announcement on Friday 11th September of additional restrictions being placed upon the Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell areas in respect of Covid-19, we’ve made the decision to move Birmingham and Solihull Scout Counties and a number of Districts within West Mercia County back to the Red readiness level, meaning that no face to face activities, meetings or residential activities can take place at this time. We are releasing this information on our website and Facebook pages at 5pm today.
This change takes effect from tomorrow, Sunday 13th September and covers all of the groups in Blythe and Cole Districts, plus 1st Meriden and 1st Salter Street from Warwickshire County, and 53rd Coventry and Rough Close Campsite from Coventry County.
The decision to change our readiness level hasn’t been taken lightly. The County Commissioners and their teams from all three Counties have met and discussed how to best respond to the worsening situation in the Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell areas, and have consulted with The Scouts National Restart Team before reaching a final decision. The safety of our members and adult volunteers has been at the forefront of our discussions in considering the impact of the increasing risk of infection in the areas concerned, and the need to play our part in helping bring the spread of the disease back within acceptable levels.
For those Groups who have previously had risk assessments approved to be able to start meeting either outdoors or indoors following the national move to an Amber readiness level, approval for these risk assessments is currently suspended. If the restrictions currently being introduced change and we’re able to move back to Amber within the next 4 weeks without any significant change to our risk profile, then approval for these risk assessments will be reinstated. However, in line with The Scouts national guidance, if we remain at a Red readiness level for more than 4 weeks then all previously approved risk assessments will need to be reviewed and re-approved.
Where Groups are currently drafting risk assessments to enable them to restart face to face Scouting (either outdoors or indoors) we would encourage them to continue to do so in order for them to be reviewed and any feedback provided before being submitted for formal approval once we’re able to confirm we’ve returned to an Amber readiness level.
While it’s disappointing that we have to return to a Red readiness level, we would strongly encourage all Groups to look at how they continue to support their members through virtual meetings and activities. There is a wealth of information available through scouts.org.uk, OSM and 1st Virtual Scout Group on Facebook that can help you in designing and running a virtual programme.
Guidance on Coronavirus Risk assessments can be found here: https://solihullscouts.org.uk/coronavirus/
If you have any questions following this communication please contact myself, Paul Webb, Liz Rashvand or Alison Lowe.
County Commissioner, Solihull
July has been quite a mixed month for several reasons. On a personal front I received some devastating news about a close family member, but also some exciting news from my children – including my daughter gaining an excellent degree result and also completing her Wood Badge as an ACSL at 71st Reading. The weather has been mixed too and I’m sure I’m not the only one who watched the rain and sun alternately beating down over a weekend and thought sadly “we should have been camping now”.
On 06 July our Scouting readiness level changed to Amber which meant that small groups could now meet outside – if leaders want to. I am aware that some sections are keen to take this up, some are content to carry on meeting virtually and some will be taking a break until at least September. It is important that you make the decision that is right for you and your fellow leaders.
At the start of the month The Scouts launched the process for the submission and approval of risk assessments with a number of webinars and pages of information on the national website. We had to quickly put in place our own strategy for managing the risk assessment approvals and have established a panel of experienced leaders with a wealth of Scouting and health and safety knowledge. In this way we can achieve a consistent approach and aim to turn around decisions within 5 days. More details can be found at www.solihullscouts.org.uk/coronavirus which includes some helpful tips. We are also planning to share some good examples soon.
I’d like to thank the panel members for agreeing to take on this additional role and all those who’ve submitted risk assessments for their enthusiasm. I know that there has been some teething issues at all stages of the process which has been frustrating for those involved, but given that it hasn’t even been three weeks yet since that change to Amber, I think we’ve done well. Earlier this week it was nice to see photos of 2nd Balsall Common Scouts on a hike and then being presented with the badges they had earned through lockdown.
It’s impossible to predict when we might move to Yellow, but we also need to be prepared that we might move back to Red at a local or national level. There is so much uncertainty still in our Scouting lives – for some this also includes not knowing if they can even return to their meeting place in the Autumn. But I know that Scouters are resourceful and flexible people and I remain incredibly grateful for everything you do for our young people.
We are looking for someone with experience in managing accounts to look after ours. Your experience could be within Scouting, or could be with a club or even professionally.
Solihull Scouts is a registered charity and our Treasurer is a trustee playing an essential role in the good governance of the money which comes to us from our members and is spent on Scouting activities. We also have rental income from our HQ building so managing the ebb and flow of expenditure and income is a vital part of the role.
Whilst we do meet six times a year, this volunteer role is very flexible as it doesn’t need a regular weekly commitment. If you’d like to learn more about the role then please contact Simon at email@example.com or Shirley at firstname.lastname@example.org.