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REN Forms

#81
Because stuff happens when you least expect it...what we consider low risk can still have consequences if something happens eg a child knocked over crossing the road or falling off a swing. Thats why having someone outside of the situation who can contact parents or more help whilst you deal with the situation in front of you.

It can also be something happens the other way around, that a family needs to get in touch because of an incident/illness/incident at home and needs the girl home asap. The home contact works both ways. They have the contact number who phones you so you know its something important not just a parent asking if their daughter is having fun!
 

bagu

Veteran (100+ posts)
#82
Because stuff happens when you least expect it...what we consider low risk can still have consequences if something happens eg a child knocked over crossing the road or falling off a swing. Thats why having someone outside of the situation who can contact parents or more help whilst you deal with the situation in front of you.
You would have enough adults for ratios though anyway if you were out and about (eg in the park for the evening) as they're obligatory so you should have sufficient adults to deal with a situation - that's why the ratios exist! If out with Guides and Rangers for a short period during a unit meeting (I guess it would be different for Rainbows/Brownies) I would also expect them to do things if needed as well - eg older Guides look after younger ones or phone for the emergency services etc... Surely that's what we train them for! If I didn't think the Guides would follow instructions in an emergency then I wouldn't be taking them out in the first place....

If an incident happened when we were out during a unit meeting I would be doing 1st aid and contacting the emergency services - finding my home contact's number and filling her in on what's happening would be much lower down the list of priorities... (that's if we were even somewhere with a mobile signal anyway - lots of places near us don't have a good one). And if it's during say an hour's Rainbow meeting - then by the time the contact has got the message and contacted each parent it could well be after the end of the meeting anyway!

Obviously it is different on a residential where for instance you might need all parents contacted to collect their daughters early; however when we've been on outings and eg the train home is half an hour late - it's generally easier/quicker for the older Guides/Rangers to text their parents themselves (with the leaders checking all have got the message) than for the poor home contact to have to do so...!

This is a really interesting discussion! I think they've tried to streamline things by having 1 way of doing a home contact regardless of type of activity/length of time away/age of the girls involved - but with the consequence that for most activities it's actually quite disproportionate to the actual risks.
 

Orly

Veteran (100+ posts)
#83
Because stuff happens when you least expect it...what we consider low risk can still have consequences if something happens eg a child knocked over crossing the road or falling off a swing. Thats why having someone outside of the situation who can contact parents or more help whilst you deal with the situation in front of you.
Yes, I'm well aware of how we grade risk. However, there is a massive difference between a girl falling off a swing and a coach crash with multiple casualties. Are you seriously telling me that we should treat them as the same in terms of both risk and impact?
 

growlywench

Veteran (100+ posts)
#85
That would then rely on everyone in the group knowing the home contact's number. Although you would hope the other adults with you have access to the emergency contact print out you have with you, or have their own copy.
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#86
What if you were the casualty ?
That is automatically always part of the risk assessment. Has been ever since Glasgow. You seem to have some difficulties with how risk assessments currently work and why having home contacts issued bundles of health forms is a bad idea practically and legally 're data protection. I'd be happy to help you with this.
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#87
Actually I think this is the point...it's not you or I that have the issue or many of the others that have responded. But there is a concern that the system isn't being used correctly, risk assessments not shared amongst the leadership team, home contact details not available to the team but the knowledge centered in one individual or location.

The experience of teams vary, from the well established to the very new and inexperienced and reaffirming a policy and explaining in much more detail what the requirements of the role are is what it happening here. The requirement for health forms is new...I don't why it is included but it has been and it won't have been done lightly. Possibly a lesson learnt from a previous incident or event, I don't know.

When things change our instant reaction here is not to embrace them but to find reasons why it is wrong, why it doesn't fit with our experience or expectation. There are risks but the reality is often different. The policy may evolve, technology may work with us and give us more ability to be flexible. Rather than emailing CHQ, discussions locally about how you do things, do the home conatcts know what they are meant to do or did they think it was simply to ring round if you were late...this is a good opportunity to improve people's understanding of the process and assessment of risk ...because not everyone has been doing it...

Speak to your County advisor ...she can speak to the Region/Country advisor and that is how the change happens...
 

Burghilly

Veteran (100+ posts)
#89
In my mind I will not be put off taking the gilrs out for fear of acts of terrorism, acts of God or acts of clumsy guides! I will always take necessary precautions to ensure we don't behave in an intentionally reckless or careless manner , but at the end of the day I have no control over the deranged gunman, the drunkdriver or the lightening stike on the church tower.

My position as guide leader is a privilege. I would like my girls to grow up to be adventurous, outgoing and sensible. This is about resilience and the ability to not allow what is perceived as an increasingly dangerous world to hem you in. Learning how to take considered risks is a lifeskill and if we want our girls to become confident assured adults it's something we need to teach.
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#90
Actually I think this is the point...it's not you or I that have the issue or many of the others that have responded. But there is a concern that the system isn't being used correctly, risk assessments not shared amongst the leadership team, home contact details not available to the team but the knowledge centered in one individual or location.

The experience of teams vary, from the well established to the very new and inexperienced and reaffirming a policy and explaining in much more detail what the requirements of the role are is what it happening here. The requirement for health forms is new...I don't why it is included but it has been and it won't have been done lightly. Possibly a lesson learnt from a previous incident or event, I don't know.

When things change our instant reaction here is not to embrace them but to find reasons why it is wrong, why it doesn't fit with our experience or expectation. There are risks but the reality is often different. The policy may evolve, technology may work with us and give us more ability to be flexible. Rather than emailing CHQ, discussions locally about how you do things, do the home conatcts know what they are meant to do or did they think it was simply to ring round if you were late...this is a good opportunity to improve people's understanding of the process and assessment of risk ...because not everyone has been doing it...

Speak to your County advisor ...she can speak to the Region/Country advisor and that is how the change happens...
No, it happens by direct contact not by 'Chinese Whispers' otherwise you get "send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance". And that is exactly what we have been getting. The clinging to cascade communication means that the vague and non-specific information issued from headquarters becomes altered and distorted as each person hears something slightly different in what they are told. All well meaning but all causing confusion. Then instead of resolving the actual problem (21st century communication not early 20c) nor it's cause (vague instructions without clear-cut And specific guidance and training) they opt for 'discredited teacher' response - one person's not complying so you're all getting this extra exercise to do.

It doesn't do anything to tackle the root cause- no mention of extra training or support for those who need or want - but extra hurdles for the compliant and non-compliant alike.
 

Orly

Veteran (100+ posts)
#91
What if you were the casualty ?
Quack, why is it that you're so keenly supporting the updates to the REN forms, yet avoiding any of my questions? I asked whether we seriously think that we should be treating a girl falling off a swing in exactly the same way as we would a coach crash with mass casualties. Asking about me being the casualty doesn't actually answer this.
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#92
It's the fact that they are extremes of events that may happen on trips out of the meeting place...when events are planned you have no idea which may take place, God forbid either do, but it's the planning before hand that helps deal with either. An regular trip to the park or visit to a local event still may have catastrophic events and still need a home contact to support. You may be capable of dealing with the situation but less experienced teams may need more support.

Yes, better training is the answer but we are where we are..
 

growlywench

Veteran (100+ posts)
#93
Except the way it's going, there won't be any volunteers left who can be bothered to do this much paperwork. So there will be no outings and no experience left to all on. Plus a lot of this is dependent on parental participation in constant form filling. Many don't bother with school forms, so asking repetitively for the same stuff is going to get them offside too and the kids will be off to other organisations.
 

Trinny

Veteran (100+ posts)
#94
It's the fact that they are extremes of events that may happen on trips out of the meeting place...when events are planned you have no idea which may take place, God forbid either do, but it's the planning before hand that helps deal with either. An regular trip to the park or visit to a local event still may have catastrophic events and still need a home contact to support...
Isn't that the case everywhere though, even at the unit meeting place?

For me, the issue with the new system is that I've been to the park hundreds of times and I can anticipate all but catastrophic events (and I literally mean, an earthquake or something). Given the low frequency of these, and the fact that they would also occur at our hall, means that I believe they can be bundled into our regular risk assessment. Plus, parents would be back at most in 90 minutes and the hall is visible from the park. If it would be totally unreasonable and disproportionate to have a home contact for a hall based meeting, why have one for a meeting in grassy open space less than 100m from the hall?

I would stop going to the park if it involved a form. I've already stopped doing trips more than once a year due to all the paperwork that parents are so reluctant to do. It just doesn't say 'I relate well to kids' to have to continuous sending out forms and admin, and definitely doesn't say 'guiding is about fun and adventure'.
 

NosilaC

Regular (50+ posts)
#95
Is HQ making these changes because they honestly believe that it will make running adventurous activities safer (and better) for the girls - if so, they need to start also thinking about the impact this will have on volunteer leaders who have limited time, and want to provide an adventurous programme safely, but without making the admin too much of a burden.

Or are these changes being introduced because HQ feel the need to 'cover themselves' in case of complaint/untoward incident - if so, they might like to consider how many leaders they're likely to lose because of too much bureaucracy.

On the subject of Home Contacts: perhaps HQ would like to centralise this role, then we could just give them the membership numbers of everyone going on the event (and details of the event itself) and they can deal with all the hassle (on the rare occasions that the system has to be invoked) and let the volunteer leaders get on with actually giving the girls what they want - a fantastic experience of Guiding! At the moment, when I run an event, I do my utmost to ensure that I don't need to contact the official Home Contact (until I can tell her that we've all left the event safely and had an amazing time). If a train is running late, then I text parents with our new arrival time, etc, and if one child has hurt herself/needs picking up, etc then I (or another leader) contacts the parent.

As things stand I wouldn't be willing to sign the new Home Contact form, and certainly wouldn't be prepared to lug umpteen paper forms around with me - I can just see the headlines when someone (hopefully not me!) accidentally leaves them on a train... And if I won't sign the form for others, I can hardly ask them to do so for me. Sadly, perhaps the time has come for Guiding and me to part company...
 

browniebeth

Brownie Leader
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#96
I think home contact use needs to be proportional.
Take a trip that is local, less than 2 hours in duration, on a regular meeting night. I've got parent stored in my phone and extra numbers in my bag, everyone knows that we have that and where. If a child has fallen off a swing, do I...

1. Say to everyone "sit down, be quiet" and ring the parent directly, stored in my phone, and who will probably make it more quickly than an ambulance (if required).

2. Ring the home contact and ask her to make the call.

I still make the same number of phone calls, but one reaches the parent quicker.

If the argument is that the other children need collecting, by the time all the remaining parents have been contacted to collect, chances are it's already home time.

We cannot prepare for every eventuality. We have to settle for quite prepared for most eventualities.

If we need a home contact to go to the park on Brownie night in case of a major incident, by that logic we need a home contact every time we meet at the hall. The four walls do not make us safer.

We have grumbles from parents for collecting consent forms when we leave the building, their point being that their contact information is the same for that weekday evening regardless of where we are meeting. The argument is that they are giving consent for that specific activity, and they are confirming awareness. They counter that by saying "I've made arrangements to her to the swimming pool with her costume, of course I've given permission".
 

dragnilk

Regular (50+ posts)
#97
What makes me laugh and think that CHQ doesn't have any idea on how we run units is the advice on how to set up a home contact on the website:
Setting up a home contact system

Before the event or activity, you need to ensure that your home contact has:
Complete details of the activity or event (including locations, travel arrangements, routes, schedules, Activities and expected return time)
The names of all participants with emergency contact telephone numbers during the event for each one - you can run a report in GO to produce this list


If we run a report on GO to get the emergency contact phone list - what is the point of sending out consent forms to collect emergency contact info specific for that event? They try to make it sound like a straight forward thing to do but if you have a unit of 24 girls - thats 24 x 2 names and numbers you still have to cross check between the go report and the event consent forms to make sure they are the same. And this will need to be done every time you need to send the info to the home contact.

And who are these angels who are happy to be our home contacts anyway? I don't know when these requirements changed but if I had been doing my volunteering properly I should have had one 3 times last term when we met away from our usual meeting place and none of my risk assessments suggested that these meetings would have been any safer or that any accident could have been dealt with better if one was in place.

I agree with BrownieBeth that this is only one small step away from needing a home contact for every meeting.
I also agree with NosilaC that perhaps this should be a centralised role provided by CHQ - after all they have easy access to GO with its handy events tab - everything they need should be there.
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#98
It's the fact that they are extremes of events that may happen on trips out of the meeting place...when events are planned you have no idea which may take place, God forbid either do, but it's the planning before hand that helps deal with either. An regular trip to the park or visit to a local event still may have catastrophic events and still need a home contact to support. You may be capable of dealing with the situation but less experienced teams may need more support.

Yes, better training is the answer but we are where we are..
I appreciate your efforts to try and defend the indefensible - but I've spoken to a number of Leaders and both current and former outdoor advisers over the last few days - all of them both weren't consulted, and disagree with the change. I've yet to find one even partially in favour. Yours, so far, is the lone voice.
 

Burghilly

Veteran (100+ posts)
#99
Question - how come we don't need to provide home contacts each day we sent our children to school? Each day they run around in the playground, jump off thing, pay football or skipping or tag or horses. Why am I not requested to fill in a daily form providing my contact details and saying I am happy for my child to take part in these activities, (that aren't officially organised by a member of staff ! ;))
 

Tawnyowl51

Veteran (100+ posts)
"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. "
At the bottom of the page it is promoting this:
"When we were looking for an unusual sleepover venue the local library seemed perfect"
Am I right in thinking this poor relevant host adviser has to go and approve the library?


Going back to page 2 of this discussion...... how did the poor relevant adviser approve the venue's washing and toilet facilities for over 60 children...at a library? most libraries have one or 2 at most, was that sufficient for 60, plus at least 10 leaders?