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With the cost of utilities on the rise, many organisations are considering opening their buildings to create a ‘warm space’ for people to come inside and stay comfortable during the energy crisis.
Here are some points to consider if you’re thinking about creating a warm space this winter.
Prepare your space
- Set up your space so that it’s welcoming and safe. Do a risk assessment for the space and any activities you wish to offer.
- Check with your insurance provider that the warm space comes within the provision.
- Ensure there is a minimum of two workers/volunteers to provide a welcome.
- Give your volunteers a checklist of what to expect and what is expected of them.
- Consider a safeguarding awareness talk for the team before a session starts.
- Provide a code of conduct to follow together with guidelines for working.
- Let the team know who they should report safeguarding concerns to and provide an email and contact number if possible.
Consider everyone who might come
- Are children welcome and will they always be with their parents?
- Will it be clear to parents that they are responsible for their children, and they shouldn't leave them in the care of volunteers or strangers?
- Will adults with care and support needs be using the warm space and if so, what arrangements have been made to support their additional needs?
Think about whether your volunteers will need disclosure checks
- Many organisations do not appear to be eligible for disclosure check (depending on which UK nation you are in this will be either DBS (England and Wales), PVG (Scotland) or AccessNI (Northern Ireland) unless there is specific provision for work with vulnerable groups. For example, a children's club where you run events for children only, a youth group, or a club for adults with learning disabilities would all require volunteers to have an enhanced check.
- In instances where an enhanced check is not deemed suitable, all three of the UK’s disclosure services offer a basic disclosure checking service. Some of the organisations we’ve spoken to use basic checks as part of their safer recruitment practice when enhanced checks do not apply. This should be assessed by your organisation's leadership to determine what they think will be best in your context.
- As organisations set up and run these activities very differently, they should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. You may find our interactive eligibility guide for DBS checks helpful (England and Wales only), available in our member portal. For Scotland, Volunteer Scotland provide excellent resources on PVG applications. Further information about our AccessNI services may be found at Our Access NI Services (thirtyoneeight.org).
Consider the information you display
- Display a safeguarding statement and clear signage of how and to whom to report any safeguarding concerns. Perhaps this could be the warm space leader in the first instance, who would then refer to the Safeguarding Lead.
- Have information on other sources of help. For example, debt advice, mental health and foodbank.
- Consider advertising helplines for self-harm, suicide ideation and domestic abuse.
- Ensure that those responsible can handle food safely and provide information about allergens orally and in writing – the more information the better so that people with allergies can make safe choices.
- Consider ensuring parental controls and access via a secure password and signage about its acceptable use.