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We are now focussed on how we prepare for returning to face-to-face activities. Of course, we must all accept that this doesn’t mean we will be able to go back to doing things how we did them before. Our new way of operating will look quite different.

Framework & Guidance

To assist leaders, we have developed a Framework in line with guidance issued by the Government and Youth Sector which sets out the steps that need to be taken to prepare for welcoming young people back to face-to-face activities when it is safe to do so.

We encourage leaders to take time to read the framework and guidance, and to consider as a staff team, in conjunction with your local Church, how best to approach a return to face-to-face activities.

Check out our Framework and guidance at boys-brigade.org.uk/ourframework/ along with a range of resources to support leaders.

A key part of our framework is our Staged Approach (see stages by clicking link) to returning to face-to-face activities, which is flexible and will provide clarity to Companies over what activities should be taking place at any given time.

Key Updates

Important updates affecting BB activities can be found below:

21/01/2022Updated guidance in England - Following updated guidance from the Government and National Youth Agency, from 20th January, face coverings are no longer required for indoor activities (or any other setting), this applies to all young people and leaders - see more information.
06/01/2022Updated guidance in Scotland - see more information
02/12/2021Updated guidance in England - from 2nd December, face coverings are required indoors for those aged 11+ years - see more information.
22/11/2021Updated guidance for residentials in Northern Ireland - see more information
27/09/2021Updated guidance in Scotland relating to positive Covid-19 cases in a Company - see more information
08/09/2021Updated guidance in England based on moving to Stage 4 of our Operating Status. All face-to-face activities can take place indoors and outdoors, including trips/visits and residentials. - see more information.
03/09/2021Updated guidance in Northern Ireland with immediate effect - see more information
11/08/2021Updated guidance in Scotland with immediate effect - see more information
10/08/2021Northern Ireland - Change to maximum venue capacity for indoor venues from 75% to 90% indoors - see more information
19/07/2021From Monday 19th July, Guidance for England has been updated based on moving to Step 4 of the Government’s 4 Step Roadmap out of the current lockdown. This sees a number of restrictions for indoor & outdoor activities as well as trips/visits and residentials being relaxed - see more information.
19/07/2021From 17th July, Guidance on residentials in Wales was updated. Residentials for up to 30 young people can take place subject to an appropriate risk assessment. - see more information.
06/07/2021From Tuesday 6th July, updates to guidance for residentials in Scotland - see full guidance
02/07/2021From Monday 5th July, changes to guidance for residentials in Northern Ireland - see full guidance
18/06/2021From Monday 21st June, changes to guidance for residentials in England, allowing up to 30 young people plus leaders - see full guidance

Regional Operating Status for Groups

Check the stage we are currently operating at and additional guidance specific to your region below. Please note that the stage we are operating at may differ across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (find out more about our Operating Stages, Framework and Guidance at boys-brigade.org.uk/ourframework/).  Advice for Companies operating in the Republic of Ireland will be issued separately through Republic of Ireland Regional Office.

Jump to guidance for:  England  /  Northern Ireland  /  Scotland  /  Wales

Last updated: 21/01/2022 – this page will be updated as guidance changes

RegionStageWhat this meansRelevant government guidance
ENGLANDCurrently operating at Stage 4 (Indoors & Outdoors) including residentialsBased on guidance issued by the National Youth Agency we have moved to Stage 4 of our Operating Status. All face-to-face activities can take place indoors and outdoors, including trips/visits and residentials.

Whilst many of the legal restrictions have been removed, we have a responsibility to care for and protect our members by taking sensible precautions to minimise the risk of infection. Leaders are encouraged to review the latest guidance and make local decisions on how to operate.

You are asked to be COVID Responsible and consider the following;

- Risk assessments – must be completed and reviewed regularly, reflecting local decisions on control measures put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect our members.
- Hygiene must remain robust – hand washing / sanitising should continue. Shared equipment is allowed however continue to clean between use.
- Venue is to remain/kept clean – must continue to clean venue before and during usage, as well as check and follow specific guidance for venues that you are using.
- Face coverings – are no longer required for indoor activities (or any other setting), this applies to all young people and leaders. Face coverings may still be required by third party venues and in some public places such as on public transport, and these requirements should be adhered to.
- Social Distancing – is now optional, however recognising most young people will not be vaccinated it is recommended that social distancing is maintained in certain circumstances such as when operating in poorly ventilated spaces or in close contact with others.
- No maximum group sizes – whilst there are no restrictions, groups may benefit from operating in smaller groups and or keeping age groups separate, to minimise the risk of infection.

For residential activities measures such as good hygiene should be maintained, and lateral flow testing is strongly recommended to take place immediately prior to departure, at regular intervals during and on return for those age 11 and over.  International travel is permitted based on FCDO advice.

Symptoms, Positive Tests & Isolation
Those with symptoms or positive tests should NOT attend BB activities and MUST follow current Government Guidelines through isolation and contacting NHS Test & Trace as applicable. BB Companies are no longer required to suspend meetings if a member has had a positive test, instead close contacts will be contacted by NHS Test & Trace and advised to take a PCR test. However, your Company or Church may take a local decision to suspend meetings for a period of time if a member(s) test positive.
National Youth Agency
NORTHERN IRELANDCurrently operating at Stage 3 (Indoors & Outdoors) including residentialsSubject to being 'Covid-ready' as part of BB Framework including local approval, face-to-face activities can take place indoors and outdoors, including trips/visits and residentials.

With immediate effect Youth Services (including The Boys' Brigade) will operate under the Department of Education's guidance for Schools and Education Settings in Northern Ireland. The full guidance can be found at https://www.eani.org.uk/youth-services-support

The key requirements are as follows:

- Youth Services are able to host both outdoor and indoor gatherings on the same basis as the Executive's current guidance for non-domestic outdoor and indoor gatherings in other sectors.
- Youth settings should seek to safely maximise their use of the outdoor environment as public health advice is that outdoor environments can limit transmission.
- It is also important that indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times, by leaving doors and windows open.
- Youth settings should continue to endeavour to implement as much social distancing as is practical where physical capacity and curriculum delivery permit. Public health guidance of 2 metres social distancing remains in place between adults and children & young people.
- While face coverings are recommended in some circumstances, if any child or young person is unable or unwilling to wear a face covering, they should not be denied access to the full range of opportunities.
- Primary school children are recommended not to use face coverings.
- It is strongly recommended that post-primary children & young people wear a face covering at all times when inside youth buildings, including group work rooms, corridors and confined communal spaces such as toilet areas.
- The opening of doors and windows should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles.
- A youth setting should not be below 16oC. In cooler weather windows should be opened just enough to provide constant background ventilation.

Residential Activities
In November 2021, the Education Authority Youth Service released proposed easements for the delivery of residential and overnight stays in Northern Ireland. These are based on a stepped approach. These guidelines permit BB Companies to return to normal residentials and overnight stays from 24th January 2022. These will need to be delivered in line with the current PHA guidance, including test trace and protect. Full guidance can be found at https://www.eani.org.uk/youth-services-support

Companies should complete a Covid-Ready Risk Assessment and Action Log as part of our efforts to reduce and manage the risk associated with the virus. Companies that haven’t previously returned to face-to-face activities should complete the local approval process in conjunction with their Church. Our framework guidance can be found at https://boys-brigade.org.uk/ourframework
Education Authority

NI Direct
SCOTLANDCurrently operating at Stage 3 (Indoors & Outdoors) including residentialsThe Scottish Government updated their guidance for youth organisations as Scotland moved beyond Level 0 in August 2021. That change to how youth work activities could be delivered, reflected:
- An emphasis based less on national ‘rules’ and more on the reduction and management of risk, and good practice for achieving this.
- An understanding that the virus is unpredictable and significant risks remain.

Currently, face-to-face activities can continue to take place with the following guidance:
- A strengthened approach to minimising contacts, such as through the re-introduction of groupings/bubbles where practical, and avoiding face-to-face delivery of large events.
- Ensuring physical distancing between young people and between children/young people and leaders.
- Face coverings should be worn indoors by everyone 12 years and over (young people and leaders).
- The importance of good ventilation, hand hygiene and surface cleaning in the meeting space.
- Continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary.
- Reinforcing Scottish Government advice regarding regular asymptomatic testing.

Managing Risk
Good planning, preparation and communication is vitally important. Companies should complete a Covid-Ready Risk Assessment and Action Log as part of efforts to reduce and manage the risk associated with the virus. Companies that haven't previously returned to face-to-face activities should complete the full approval process in conjunction with their church. Our BB Framework and template Covid Ready Risk Assessment can be found at https://boys-brigade.org.uk/ourframework

In the event of a positive case of Covid-19 in your Company:
- If you are advised of a positive case of Covid-19 involving a young person or a leader in the last 7 days, you may suspend the 'self-contained' group (bubble) or section involved for 14 days as a precautionary measure. This is not a requirement, but can be considered as good practise.
- Leaders in an affected bubble or section may work with other bubbles or sections, providing they have not been contacted by Track and Trace and if they complete a negative Lateral Flow Test
- All members should be advised to be vigilant to the symptoms of Covid-19 and should follow NHS procedures should symptoms develop.
- 'Track and Trace' will only contact leaders and request access to the attendance register where they consider an individual with symptoms or a positive test has had close contact with other members.
- Any positive case of Covid-19 should be reported to BB Headquarters by email to safeguarding@boys-brigade.org.uk

- Permitted indoors and outdoors.
- There are no longer caps on overnight tent/room occupancy or on expedition group size.
- Prior to residential/camps taking place a risk assessment should be completed to ensure adequate mitigations and precautions are in place - see our template Covid-Ready Risk Assessment for Residentials.

YouthLink Scotland have provided FAQs on their website which may be helpful - see https://www.youthlinkscotland.org/covid-19-guidance/youth-work-recovery-resources/frequently-asked-questions/
YouthLink Scotland
WALESCurrently operating at Stage 3 (Indoors & Outdoors) including limited residentialsSubject to your Company being 'Covid-ready' as part of BB Framework including completing the local approval process, face-to-face activities both indoors and outdoors including visits/trips can take place. Residentials for up to 30 young people can take place subject to an appropriate risk assessment. Wales remain at Alert Level 1.

Additional guidance for returning to face-to-face activities in Wales as follows:

- There is no maximum group size or bubbles required when operating indoors or outdoors. Whilst there is no set limits Companies should consider group size as part of their risk assessment and ensure appropriate leader supervision is in place and that you are following safeguarding policies and other guidelines.
- Social distancing of 2 metres should be adhered to for all those aged 11 and upwards including leaders. Where social distancing cannot be adhered to face coverings must be worn by everyone aged 11 and upwards.
- Face coverings are to be worn by those aged 11 and upwards including leaders indoors. Whilst face coverings are not required outdoors, face coverings should be worn where social distancing isn’t possible.
- Trips & Visits are permitted, although travel should be kept to a minimum >(see our guidance on 'Transport' on page 19 of our Framework & Guidance).

The Welsh government will consider whether Wales can move to the new Alert Level zero on 7 August following the next review of the restrictions.

At Alert Level Zero:
- Legal limits and caps on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events will be removed.
- COVID risk assessments will remain a legal requirement.
- Reasonable measures will legally be required to manage the risk of coronavirus but they will be for each organisation to determine based on the outcome of their risk assessment, including in relation to physical distancing.
- All businesses and premises can open, including nightclubs.
- People should continue to work from home wherever possible.
- Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in all indoors public places, with the exception of education settings and hospitality. We expect to gradually ease these requirements – and are beginning with hospitality settings from 7 August. Schools and colleges will use the framework announced by the Education Minister to determine use of face coverings.

Find out more at gov.wales/coronavirus-control-plan-alert-level-0-zero.
Welsh Government

We will be continuing to follow guidance issued by the UK Government and other relevant authorities to ensure the safety of both young people and leaders and will provide further updates through our regular emails to leaders, social media and this page. 

Where groups are not able to meet face-to-face, we would encourage Companies to make full use of our resourced programmes, including Socially Distanced, Virtual Session and #BBatHOME activities alongside  other ways of maintaining a sense of community during these challenging times. Resources and support for leaders running virtual sessions, camps and more at boys-brigade.org.uk/programme/.

If you have any questions please get in touch with our Staff team using the normal channels. You can get in touch with us support@boys-brigade.org.uk or 0300 303 4454.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below some helpful questions and answers . . .
Last updated: 21/05/2021

When did The Boys’ Brigade originally suspend face-to-face activities?
The Boys’ Brigade issued a statement on 16th March 2020, that all BB Companies, Battalions and Districts must suspended face to face activities with immediate effect. Further details on how we are currently operating can be found above.

Where can I find the Brigade’s advice and update on the current situation?
All of the Brigade’s latest advice can be found on this page and we would suggest checking back regularly for any updates. In addition to this, we will be sending out regular communications to all leaders by email.

How do I keep in contact with members in my Company?
To help support leaders, on Friday 20th March 2020 we launched #BBatHOME – a new programme concept to enable BB leaders to continue to engage our members with opportunities to learn, grow and discover through a balanced programme of activities in their own homes, supported by their parents/carers.

In addition to this we have launched programme resources and support for Socially Distanced Face-to-Face activities and Virtual Sessions. Additional resources are also available to support leaders running a #BBatHOME Camp and virtual Fundraising Challenge.

Find out more about all our programme resources on the Programme Hub at boys-brigade.org.uk/programme/.

Leaders need to be clear about their boundaries and good safeguarding practice when it comes to making use of social media and electronic methods of communication. Remember that all communication with children and young people should be through their parents/carers. If you have any questions please contact BB Headquarters. For more details about activities permitted at this time, please see the top of this page for the latest information including the current ‘stage’ we are operating at.

What do we do about events, residential’s and trips due to take place?
Trips/Visits and Residentials are ONLY permitted if the Operating Status and specific guidance for your Region permits such activities; and based on your Company being Covid-Ready including completing the local approval process. You should be aware that the Operating Status and/or guidance could change at anytime and so you should ensure you review the guidance regularly. Companies are required to notify BB Headquarters of all residentials in the usual way.

We would advise leaders to consider contractual/financial obligations and where necessary make contact with venues/providers to review contracts/terms for cancellation to understand the options available should events/activities have to be postponed or cancelled.

Events organised by The Boys’ Brigade UK & RoI Headquarters and/or Regions will offer a refund on all registration/booking fees. Unfortunately, The Boys’ Brigade is unable to cover costs for travel or other expenses. The relevant course organisers will make contact with the person who made the booking in due course regarding these arrangements.

Companies that would have offered a residential opportunity during this period to consider running a #BBatHOME Camp for which a range of resources are available to support leaders including guidance, activity cards, sample programme and templates.

Can young people continue to work towards the Brigade’s Major Awards?
We have published Guidance for continuing with the Queen’s Badge during the 2020-21 session, which we hope will enable the opportunities provided by the award to continue. The guidance includes details of temporary changes to Queen’s Badge regulations along with ideas and suggestions of activities that young people could undertake.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award have created a ‘DofE With A Difference’ hub where Leaders, young people and parents can find the latest information, advice and ideas. They have also introduced a number of temporary programme changes to make it easier for young people to keep doing DofE.

If you have any questions about the Brigade’s Major Awards please contact your Regional Headquarters.

How will BB Headquarters operate during this period?
Based on the contingency plans and systems we have in place The Boys’ Brigade UK & RoI and Regional Staff Team will continue to offer support to the membership and provide essential services from home. You will be able to contact us by phone, email and online in the usual ways, although we ask you to refrain from sending post to our offices at this time.  As of 1st April 2020, the Brigade has been operating a reduced staffing structure, with a significant number of staff going on ‘Furlough’. BB Supplies will continue to operate as normal, with contingency plans in place. You can place orders through the Online Shop or by calling 0333 320 8078.  All general enquiries should continue to be directed to 0300 303 4454 or support@boys-brigade.org.uk.

Can we return forms to HQ in a different way?
We recognise that completing and send forms by post may become more difficult. We already receive a large volume of registration and disclosure paperwork from BB Companies where it is scanned and e-mailed to the Support Team and would like to encourage more Companies to do so. Adopting this approach of completing the paperwork will also mean that this can be done between all parties involved in the completion of paperwork, who can scan and e-mail forms to one another locally.

All completed forms should be sent to support@boys-brigade.org.uk, or you can also now directly upload these completed forms to us by using our website contact form at boys-brigade.org.uk/submit-forms-online/ On lots of printers now there are in built scanners which can be used. However, if you don’t have a scanner then there is another alternative. On smart phones/devices there are lots of free scanner apps available which can be used to take a snap of the completed form. Go to your app store on your phone/device and search for a scanner app; one app we have found and used ourselves is ‘Scanbot’, but there are lots of other apps that also do the same job.