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Children and vulnerable adults on meets: guidance for clubs

This information aims to provide clubs with guidance relating to young people and vulnerable adults who participate in club meets, including hut-based meets. The guidance will assist club officers to fulfil their legal duty of care and ensure that they meet the requirements of our insurance brokers regarding civil liability insurance.

In the following, the terms ‘young person / people’ and ‘child / children’ have the same meaning, referring to people under 18 years of age. The guidance relating to young people also applies to "vulnerable adults”, defined by our insurers for the purposes of public liability insurance cover (included in the civil liability policy cover) as "any person aged 18 or over who is in need of assistance by reason of mental, physical, or learning disability, age or illness, and who is unable to take care of him or herself against significant harm or serious exploitation which may be occasioned by the acts or omissions of other people”.

For clubs which operate their own huts, and clubs taking children on hut-based meets, we provide best-practice guidance concerning children using hut facilities. We published Safeguarding Children in Mountain Huts - Scotland in October 2015 following consultation with Children 1st.

If a club permits a child to join as a member and / or attend club meets, but only when accompanied by a parent / carer, or an adult nominated by a parent / carer, then the club is not required to adopt the Mountaineering Scotland Child Protection Policy or a policy of its own.

A parent may give consent to anyone they wish to act as a nominated adult. A "nominated adult" is someone aged 18 years or over to whom a parent consents to taking their child climbing, hill walking, mountaineering, or on any other Mountaineering Scotland / club activity, such as a social event, club lecture or wall training.

Mountaineering Scotland recommends that in situations involving an overnight meet, that the nominated adult provides the club with consent in writing from the parent, to formally advise the club of the arrangement, parental / emergency contact information, and any medical issues. The Mountaineering Scotland website provides a suitable form for this purpose, see "Further Information and Resources” below.

We also recommend that the nominated adult informs both the parent and child about the type of activities to be undertaken and any arrangements relating to transport and accommodation. The parent may then make an informed decision regarding the child’s participation.

The Mountaineering Scotland publication "Children …Hill Walking, Climbing and Mountaineering: Information for Parents” may be downloaded from the Mountaineering Scotland website at kids-info.asp and will assist parents to make choices concerning the type of activity which may be suitable for their child.

If a club permits children to join as members or attend club meets without a parent / carer or nominated adult, then club officers have additional responsibilities.

Club officers must implement a child protection policy, appoint a designated member responsible for children and child protection, and inform Mountaineering Scotland that they have taken these actions. The designated member should undertake appropriate training so that they know how to respond to a concern raised by a child, and how to provide appropriate advice to members of the club.

On meets where unaccompanied children are present, the designated member of the club responsible for child protection issues should be present and identified to meet participants.

Wherever possible, an adult should not be alone with an unaccompanied child. Where separate facilities are available, unaccompanied children should not sleep in the same room with an adult or adults, and never in the same room as a single adult. If there are both boys and girls present, there should be separate male and female sleeping areas for children, and, where possible, both male and female supervising adults.

Those regularly supervising unaccompanied children and those likely to be on their own with children should be assessed by club officers as suitable to do so.

Those regularly supervising unaccompanied children on a sole basis should have undergone a selection process undertaken by club officers and be a member of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme.

We recommend that the officers of a club which permits children or vulnerable adults to participate in meets should undertake a risk assessment prior to each meet, and retain notes of the assessment on file. The assessment should include:

  • What are the risks to the young people or vulnerable adults?
  • How can the risks be managed, and by whom?

The following information and resources are avalable:

·         A consent form template: adults nominated by parents

·         A club child protection policy template

·         Guidelines: Designated club officer responsible for child protection

·         Frequently asked questions

·         The Mountaineering Scotland Child Protection Policy Statement

For clarification concerning any matter related to children on meets, or child and vulnerable adult protection please contact the Mountaineering Scotland Child Protection Officer David Gibson by calling 01738-493942 or by email.