Updated guidance for reopening URC children's and youth work

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12 November 2020

Here is a summary of the current guidelines in England, Scotland and Wales as to what is permissible (current on 12 November 2020).  Please remember the purpose of all restrictions is to reduce the spread of Covid-19 through reducing contact between people.

Any activity which gathers people together is therefore a risk, and all alternatives should be explored. Please see the section Deciding whether or not to offer face to face activities before taking any action.


During the second lockdown

  • Out of school services may only continue if their primary purpose is providing registered childcare; providing respite care; part of full-time home-education provision; or reasonably necessary to enable parents to work or search for work or undertake training or education.

  • Extracurricular in-person children’s and young people’s activities and groups as well as uniformed organisations should cease, with the exception of support groups and some limited youth work.

  • Support groups need to have a clearly defined purpose and attendees should be formally invited. The number in each group excluding volunteers and leaders should be no more than 15. Children under 5 do not count in this total. They may only happen in premises meeting Covid19 secure measures, and not in private homes.  Examples include meeting with high-need young people, and new parents and babies groups. (NB Pregnant women fall into the clinically vulnerable category.)

  • One-to-one meetings with young people may continue outdoors in public places, as may meetings between any two people from different households.

  • National Youth Agency's ‘Red Readiness Guidance’ states that one to one meetings with high-need young people may take place indoors, together with additional volunteers bring present to ensure safeguarding, in addition to detached/outdoor youth work.

  • All other children’s, youth and families work should be conducted by alternative, virtual means.

Visit the GOV.UK website for further information and guidance on meeting in larger groups. 


Visit the scot.gov website and enter a postcode to check a local COVID protection level. 

Tier Four

You can meet people from other households outdoors in a private garden or in a public place such as a park. The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is six which can be from up to two separate households. 

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people counted in a gathering and do not need to maintain physical distance from others. Young people aged between 12 and 17 can meet up in groups of up to six at a time outdoors and are not subject to the two household limit. Physical distancing is required.

Early learning and childcare can remain open. Enhanced and targeted protective measures are in place.

Unregulated children’s activities - no activities are permitted. 

Support services, such as peer support groups, therapy groups, day centres, respite care, one to one therapy and counselling, can operate face to face, where they are essential for people’s wellbeing and remote delivery is not possible.

An essential support group is one where participant’s health (including their mental health) and wellbeing would be significantly impacted by non-attendance. If groups must take place in person, relevant guidance must be followed.

In general, support groups and one to one support should be delivered remotely wherever possible.

Visit the scot.gov website for more information and guidance on Tier Four 

Tiers Three and Two

Unregulated activities and services for children and young people include groups such as Brownies or faith-based classes for children, and activities for parents and children such as baby and toddler groups.  Some activities are permitted:

Carefully controlled groupwork activities (with up to a maximum of 10 children, young people parents and facilitators indoors or 15 outdoors) or one-to-one sessions could be delivered in an appropriate setting.

Other conditions for indoor mother/baby groups and organised activities for children up to 12 months apply – see below.

Organised activity indoors:

  • set a maximum number for indoor organised activities to 10 people (all ages included, no more than 5 adults)

  • set a maximum number of households for indoor organised activities to 10

Organised activity outdoors:

  • set a maximum number for outdoor organised activities to 15 people (excluding the under 12s)

  • set a maximum number of households for outdoor organised activities to 15 (including the under 12s)

Capacity may be reduced across settings depending on venue size and the delivery model  - see COVID-19 Staying Safe and Protecting others.

Visit the scot.gov website for further information on organised activities for children. 

Mother and baby groups (12 months and under)

Recognising the particular needs of babies and infants, the maximum number of adults who can attend has been set to 10:

  • where all children in the group are less than 12 months old

  • where the space allows for appropriate physical distancing measures to be in place as set out in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others

  • where face coverings are worn at all times, except when sitting down (excluding under 5’s)

  • where the service provider can meet all the relevant health and safety criteria and can comply with any specific conditions set out by the venue provider at all times

  • where the duration of the activity is kept to a minimum and other blended delivery options are considered including use of outside space, digital delivery, frequency of activity

  • where group attendees and facilitators, as far as possible, are kept consistent and do not change regularly

Babies would not count for total numbers or households taking part. Siblings under five can also attend, where unavoidable, and would not count towards total numbers or households for these activities only.

For indoor organised activities for children aged over 12 months, the maximum number of adults remains at five.

Visit the scot.gov website for more information and advice on mother and baby groups.

Tier One and Tier Zero

Unregulated activities and services for children and young people include groups such as Brownies or faith-based classes for children, and activities for parents and children such as baby and toddler groups - all activities are permitted.

For information on youth work visit the YouthLink Scotland website.


Organised activities run for the development and well-being of children, such as sports clubs, drama classes, parent and toddler groups, youth groups and religious groups in addition to support groups can run outdoors and indoors, subject to the rules around the numbers of people for indoor and outdoor gatherings.

All of these activities are capped at 15 participants if they take place indoors, or 30 if outdoors. This number does not include any children aged under 11 or people who are working. During these activities, people should remain physically distanced from others outside of their household.  Activities must not involve the sale or consumption of alcohol and must not take place in people’s homes.

Organisers have a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure that these activities take place in a way that minimises exposure to coronavirus. Therefore, they should consider the space available to allow social distancing as far as is possible with children and not to maximise the number of children that can attend. The Protective measures in childcare settings: keep childcare safe guidance should be a used as a guide for keeping children and adults safe during organised activities for children.

Visit the GOV.Wales website for more information.

Places of worship are now able to provide supervised activities for children (up to the age of 18). These can include activities such as Sunday schools and children’s services.

Read the guidance on providing youth work services and guidance on providing childcare pages on the GOV.Wales website for further information. 

Deciding whether or not to offer face-to-face activities

When government restrictions permit face-to-face activities, it is for local children’s and youth group leaders (in consultation with Church Elders) to consider whether online / support at home engagement should start to transition to this (within the current restrictions in their area.


1. Ask WHY you want to reopen – are you responding to a clear need in your local context? As the general guidance is to limit contact with people outside households/support bubbles, any activity which will increase contact needs to have a clear rationale.

2. Ask WHERE you will meet – the venue must comply with the government Covid-19 secure requirements for places of worshipcommunity facilities, or outdoors in England; places of worshippublic places in Scotland; or places of worshipcommunity facilities, or public places in Wales. Outside is always lower risk and preferable to indoors.

3. Ask WHO will be excluded if you start face to face activities, and who will be excluded if you do not. Ask who may be impacted if a group member tests positive for Covid-19 in terms of quarantine and self-isolation (children and young people, siblings and parents/carers, leaders etc). No leader should feel obliged to reopen, especially if they or someone they care for is vulnerable.

4. Consult with the children, young people and families to hear their views about reopening your activities.

5. Consult with the Church Elders or equivalent as the group with legal liability for all church activities. You cannot proceed without the church’s approval and they need to sign off all the various risk assessments.

Risk assessments

Risk of infection is impacted by proximity (how close people are together), duration (how long people are together), environment (how well ventilated) and contact with infected surfaces (furniture, washrooms, materials, door handles etc). There should be no sharing of food or drink, crockery or cutlery, equipment or materials. Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often than usual. Increase frequency of cleaning of toilets and washrooms and encourage everyone to clean their hands more often than usual. All organised activities need to follow the government guidance for out of schools settings and must have the following in place to prevent the spread of infection (in addition to all normal safeguarding measures, see our safeguarding policy Good Practice 5):

  • Risk assessment of the premises or outdoor location – this must be Covid19 ready (for URC premises use Covid-19 Risk Assessment (PDF) or the editable version Covid-19 Risk Assessment - Excel spreadsheet). 

  • Risk assessment of the activity – how social distancing will be maintained, how group size will be managed, how materials will be used and cleaned etc (see national government guidance for out of schools settings and Appendix I A guide to risk assessment - PDF).

  • Risk assessment of the participants and leaders – awareness of personal levels of vulnerability to infection, willingness to self-isolate following NHS guidancein case of a reported case within the group (use Personal Risk Assessment - PDF). 

  • Revised emergency procedures to include fire evacuation with social distancing and first aid with PPE. 

  • System for collecting details of all those present for the appropriate national track and trace system (operating the church’s GDPR policy) and displaying information/QR codes. 

  • Training of all leaders and volunteer helpers in all measures to be taken to reduce the risk of transmission. 

  • Good communication with parents/carers and all participants about what to expect, measures in place and codes of conduct. 

  • Plan for arrivals and departures to maintain social distancing among parents/carers; and good hand hygiene among group members and leaders.

  • Plan for dealing with a group member or leader who becomes ill with potential Covid-19 symptoms during a session. 

  • System for enabling group members to remain in existing ‘bubbles’ (eg from school / household / extended household) in consistent groups with the same leaders each time to reduce mixing.

Your Synod CYDO or equivalent lead worker will be able to give some support.

Impact on typical session activities:

  • Singing and shouting is to be avoided 

  • Recommend NO consumption of food or drink in the venue during the session 

  • No soft toys or removeable soft furnishings 

  • Where possible any physical activities and games should take place outside 

  • Leaders must socially distance from each other and groups 

  • Group members must keep to social distance rules for their locality during activities 

  • No shared craft materials or equipment 

  • No shared sports equipment 

  • Face coverings may be appropriate in some indoor spaces (eg corridors, entrance ways) 

  • Increased cleaning regime as required by risk assessment 

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