Tips for travelling with Guiding Groups in London

>>  Monday, April 11, 2016

Tip 1 Make sure every girl has your details on them 

Wristbands are ideal, or a tied on label, don't rely on stickers that peel off jumpers and lose ink in the wet.

When we have taken our Brownies to London we always put a wristband on them.  It has the name of our Leader In Charge on it and our Brownie Unit mobile phone number on it.  Never write the child's name on it.  This would make it much easier for a stranger to 'befriend' a lone child and lead them into a false sense of security.

With Senior Section I made sure they all had both leaders mobile numbers in their phones and I gave them all a small laminated card with our numbers, the emergency number and the number of the place we were staying.

Tip 2 keep photos of the girls with you 

Get permission from parents and take a photo on your phone of each girl on the day, this will help you if you need to show it to someone and it can also be transferred electronically for police distribution if needed.

Tip 3 make sure they know what to do if they are separated from you 

Tagging up a child is one thing, but they have to know what to do it they find themselves alone or lost.  A good set of rules is:

1) don't panic
2) stand still, chances are your leader or parents aren't far away and will come to you quickly.
3) if definitely alone ask someone in uniform for help, preferably Police but transport worker if at a station.
4) if you can't see a policemen, go into a shop and ask for help.
5) if there are no uniforms, no shops, ask a lady with children to help you.
6) remember my phone number is on your wrist, ask them to call it.
7) if on a tube, get off at the next stop and stand at the wall, I will come to you.  Ask a transport worker (uniform) on the platform for help.
8) if you are on a tube station alone and we are on the train, stay where you are, stand still at the wall, we will come back to you.

Make sure your girls know their rules about what they must do if they find themselves alone or lost. Remember to reassure them that whilst they need to know what to do, it is highly unlikely to happen and shouldn't worry about it.

Tip 4 make your group visible

Get your girls to wear something distinctive, bright neckers, flowers in their hair, same coloured caps, something to help you identify them in a crowd.

Tip 5 High ratios for younger children

For younger groups have a higher adult to child ratio than the mandatory ratios for very busy places like the tube, 1 to 2 is fantastic for brownies if you can get enough adults.

Allocate children to adults so each adult knows exactly who they are watching whilst on the move.

Tip  6 keep counting

Count, count, then count again!

Tip  7 think about how to walk in groups

Walking through parts of London can be hard, some parts get very congested on the paths.  It is easy to get split up.

When walking in a group have one adult responsible for being at the back, try to ensure you don't get gaps and the person at the front should stop occasionally to allow a 'regroup'.

Tip  8 Pre-plan moving around on public transport

Understand how you will manage public transport as a group before you start on the journey and explain it to the girls too.

When getting on and off the tube or trains have one adult allocated to be last off platform and last off train/bus/boat.  They do a quick visual check themselves before getting off and on.

When your group gets off a tube or train, all walk to the wall and stand still until the initial rush has died down, head count and group walk to the barriers.  It is much less stress if you don't try to move with the initial train rush, even in rush hour there is a minor lull between trains.

Get them ready to leave a boat before your stop and count them both before you get off and after you get off. (It's not as time consuming as it sounds)

Tip 9 think about your loo stops

Have a look at my London Loos for Guiders to help you along.

Tip 10 Think about your Risk Assessment

Remember to think about your Risk Assessment.  Don't just copy one someone else has written but reading others can help you think in the right direction.

Here are some of the ones I used for my Rangers on a weekend visit:

The group may get split up at any part of the weekend. One person may be left alone.
Regular head counting and regrouping to clarify next stage instructions. Each Girl will have the trip organiser’s mobile telephone numbers on them (on a card handout and have been told to add it to their phones if they have one.).  For specific greater risk times (like tube travel) a separate hazard is identified 

Party member may get injured
Will be carrying a ‘mobile’ first aid kit with plasters and bandages for immediate first aid.  A check has been made of where the A&Es are closest to the areas we will be in.  Guys (near Westminster) has minor injury 8-8.  St Thomas’ (near Tooley street)  has A&E.  The Royal Free is very close to Pax Lodge.  In event of serious emergency one adult would go with casualty, one adult would stay with group.  Emergency Contact  would be called and parents contacted..

Separation Hazard Train travel to and from London. Leaving part of the group behind.
Train is straight to London with no changes. Head count at the start and finish of the journey. 
All tickets are booked with pre-booked seats. Each girl will have trip organiser’s mobile telephone number.
Separate collection/travel arrangements will be made as appropriate.

Separation Hazard Travel on the underground
Each girl will have trip organiser’s mobile number with them. One leader will be given last on/last off responsibility. Strict instructions to be issued that if separated to get off at the next station and stand against the wall of the tube station until the rest of the group arrive. 

Personal safety Hazard Monopoly Challenge
Route around London to visit streets via tube, bus and foot. Reminder of road sense rules and remaining alert. Both with traffic and personal possessions.

Staying overnight at Pax Lodge, WAGGS Centre
Risk assessment as per Pax Lodge

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace
High level of security is already in place at this event. Take particular care not to get separated in crowds outside palace whilst waiting to go in.  Head count after the event prior to leaving

Tate Modern
Commercial risk assessment for premises must be in place. Girls may get split up. Have set meeting place and time agreed in advance.  Each girl will have trip organiser’s mobile number with them. 

Tip 12  Take Badge Swaps with you

There are plenty of opportunities to swap badges, especially if you are going to visit Pax.

Tip 13 Don't Panic

Taking groups to London is not as hard as it sounds, mostly it's just common sense. 

Top Tip:  Make Mountain Top Moments - safely

When we went to the Jubilee we couldn't take many adults with us because of the rules for the enclosure (still within ratio rules though) , but it meant when we walked down the Mall we really would find it hard as the crowd started to surge. 

We made the most of our Young Leaders and 'allocated' the Guides to them whilst we leaders had the Brownies and over all responsibility for all.

I spoke to a wonderful Scouter on the phone just before we walked down the Mall at the front of the procession, with 250,000 other people behind us. He said "Put all your older ones around the outside and walk as a box.  As the crowd start to run from behind close ranks and they will run around you and not split you up."  Clever man, he was right and that box formation kept us together in the crush.

We didn't lose anyone, but I did see a very pale looking brown owl that had lost a girl, it does happen.  I'm sure she will have had her girl labelled up and there were so many police around that day no child could be lost for long but I think the labelling is key to a quick reunion.


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