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COVID-19 Update to Leaders

Friday 3rd July 2020

This update was issued to all leaders by Jonathan Eales, Chief Executive on 3rd July 2020.

At the time of writing the Brigade is operating at Stage 2 of the staged approach to returning to face-to-face activities. Please visit boys-brigade.org.uk/coronavirus-update for our latest guidance.


As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, I would like to map out what this will mean for The Boys’ Brigade over the coming months. I continue to be inspired by all the creative ways that are being found to establish a sense of community, as we support and encourage one another at this time. Thank you to everyone that completed the #BBatHOME surveys, this feedback has helped shape our plans.

“As a family, we’ve really appreciated the efforts made by the leaders and volunteers during these uncertain times. Their commitment to weekly Zoom meetings and staying in touch with the young people has been a really positive experience for our son. I think the BB activities will feature strongly and positively in his memories of this time”. – Parents’ Survey Respondent

Although, it is possible – given how much restrictions have changed recently – for a small group of young people and leaders to meet outdoors, it does not mean this is the responsible approach to take. All face-to-face activities will remain suspended for the remainder of the session, however, I would encourage you to use the time to plan for the future session and take some time to rest and recharge your batteries!

Planning for a return to face-to-face activities
The focus of our planning is a return to face-to-face activities from the beginning of the new session. Of course, we must all accept that this doesn’t mean we will be able to go back to doing things how we did before face-to-face activities were suspended in March. Our new way of operating will look quite different.

To support leaders, we are working hard to develop a guidance framework to assist Companies, which will be issued by the end of July. Once the green light is given it will be for Companies to follow the framework and determine when and how each individual group can return safely. It will be vital to build confidence with leaders, young people and their parents/carers.

Our approach is based on flexibility, as there is likely to be a need to operate a mixture of both face-to-face and virtual sessions during the Autumn. The Brigade Executive have also agreed proposals for a new programme for the Over 11’s with the intention of launching this in Spring 2021.

From the beginning of August, we will be providing monthly programme planners and activity cards to assist leaders in planning and delivering the programme from September through to Christmas. You can view a flowchart which sets out the stages of the journey, from providing virtual programmes at the start of lockdown through to a planned full return to face-to-face activities by the end of the year.

Steps to take now
Whilst we are currently not able to meet face-to-face there are important steps we can all take to prepare for when we can.

1. Maintaining contact with members
The priority must be to maintain regular contact with young people and their families. An increasing number of Companies are doing this through running virtual sessions, but this is not the only option, sending cards, socially distanced conversations on the doorstep and phone calls are all effective ways of staying in contact. As part of the guidance to leaders we will be providing template wording and other resources to assist in welcoming young people back to face-to-face activities.

In the meantime, I encourage you to continue to use the #BBatHOME Activity Packs and Virtual Sessions, as well as the #BBatHOME Camp to engage with members.

To support leaders with running virtual sessions, utilising the functionality of OBM and providing a forum for questions and answers on how the organisation is navigating COVID-19, we have been running a wide range of leaders workshops and webinars. You can find recordings of recent workshops/webinars and details of further opportunities to join such sessions at boys-brigade.org.uk/leaders-workshops/

2. Planning as a Staff Team
Many staff teams have started meeting remotely to coordinate maintaining contact with young people and in thinking creatively about the session ahead. If you haven’t done so already, I would encourage you to arrange a forum for staff to plan for the future.

3. Engaging with the Church
When a Company is able to return to face-to-face activities will largely depend on the decisions made by the local Church or premises provider about re-opening the buildings. It is important that Companies engage with local Church leaders or premises provider now to help shape the actions that will need to be undertaken.

Membership fees for 2020/21 session
The staff team continues to focus all our energies in supporting members through this challenging period. In order to reduce the cost base we have utilised the support available from the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and reduced expenditure wherever possible, whilst still providing a range of services to members.

Membership fees in the 2020/21 session will be essential in continuing to provide support to Companies and in complying with our statutory obligations. Recognising the challenges that Companies face, the Brigade Executive has decided to defer the decision taken at Brigade Conference in 2019 to raise the fees for the 2020/21 session.

The intention is to proceed with the statistical return process on 1st November as planned, with the subscription fees remaining at the same level as this session. However, as it is likely it will take time for young people to return to face-to-face activities, we would encourage Companies to contribute more than the required amount wherever that is possible. I will also be writing to Battalions & Districts to engage their support.

To help Companies re-build their finances, as part of the #BBatHOME programme we have launched a Fundraising Challenge, which we hope Companies will participate in over the coming weeks.

The journey ahead
As the priority is to navigate COVID-19 and prepare for a relaunch of face-to-face activities in the Autumn, the new five year Strategic Plan will now officially be launched in the Spring. Work will continue behind the scenes to prepare the ground so we can make progress in implementing the plan from the start of 2021.

There is no doubt that the journey ahead will have its challenges, but we must face the future with confidence and optimism as we continue to grasp the opportunities to live out our vales of having faith, trusting, caring and inspiring one another as we journey together.

Thank you for all you continue to do.

With best wishes

Jonathan Eales
Chief Executive


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