Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Statement

11th September 2020

Update 11th September 2020
 
Covid-19 Statement
 
Dear GB Captain/Correspondent,
 
Under the extreme circumstances that we find ourselves in due to Coronavirus (Covid-19), the GBNI Executive Team have met to consider the certain situation around the restart of GB activities.  This situation will remain under constant review as the situation continues to be fluid.
 
Further to the communication sent on 9th July, the GBNI Executive have confirmed that there will be no return to any face-to-face GB activities or meetings either indoors or outdoors until the week commencing 2ndNovember 2020.  This includes any small gatherings and awards/prize-giving services.  If you have started to make any plans to meet-up with your GB members in any face-to-face capacity, please arrange to cancel these activities immediately to comply with the GBNI guidance.
 
GB companies will not be expected to pay 100% of their Annual Assessment Fee.  The GBNI Finance Team are to work out the detail by the end of September and you will be informed of the adjustments once agreed.
 
The deadline to submit your Company Annual Returns via the online WebFiling will now be extended to the end of January 2021.  Please note: paper copies will not be issued this year. 
 
Annual Assessments will be issued by GBHQ at the end of February 2021 and to assist with the end of the financial year, all fees must be paid by the end of March 2021 in advance of badges being ordered.
 
If you have prepaid for the GBNI Scripture Course 2020/21 which is now on hold until September 2021 and would like a refund, please contact Margaret Megahey via  customerservice@gbni.co.uk or dial 028 9454 8054 (Press 1).  You will be able to re-order this course before the next session.
 
If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
 
Gail Clarke
GBNI National Secretary
 

Update 9th July 2020                                              
 
Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland has been carefully monitoring the government’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) across Northern Ireland.  The Executive continued to meet over the past couple of months via Zoom to discuss the feasibility of returning to GB for the 2020/21 session and GBNI staff delivered our services from home.
With the increasing developments of Covid-19 it is important that we all in Girls’ Brigade NI take our duty of care to our GB members, volunteers and parents seriously.  It is important not to create a sense of fear or panic but to take sensible and reasonable precautions to keep everyone safe whilst at GB and any activities associated with GB.
Staff have now returned to HQ but we ask that all contact be made via telephone and email.  In the interest of safety, no personal visits to the office please.  The GBNI shop is open for collection of items purchased online with restrictions in place to observe one person only in the shop at any given time.  The wellbeing of staff and our membership is one of our top priorities.
The duration of lockdown means significant disruption to our calendar and to our 2020/21 programme but we believe it is the only sensible option in this unprecedented situation.  Accordingly, at this stage, GBNI Executive are recommending the following
Restart

  • Companies should not resume prior to week commencing 2nd November, but this will be kept under review through August/September
  • There will be NO Sporting activities or PE Competitions/Demo’s for 2020/21
  • A 70% attendance is required for awards i.e. normal 26 weeks reduced to 18 weeks.  Attendance normal 22 reduced to 15.
  • Sub-Officer Training will be held September – October using online platforms – closing date has been extended to 21st August
  • Child Protection Training will be held September – December using online platforms
  • Final Part 3 Officer Training will be held using online platforms
  • Orders for Scripture Course 2020/21 will be held in GB HQ for you for use 2021/22 and resources for use with your girls will be uploaded to the Leaders’ Section of the website
  • Junior File orders will be fulfilled and the closing date extended to 21st August
  • The ‘August Pack’ will become the ‘October Pack’, despatched from HQ 2nd October
  • There will be no DofE expeditions for 2020/21 and no Award Ceremony in 2020.  We hope to have a joint award in 2021
  • GEMS and Queen’s Award will continue using online platforms
  • Annual Returns will be extended to the beginning of January and will be online only
  • Staff will provide a range of resources that leaders can dip into as required
  • Executive and District representatives were given a 1 year extension to their tenure by way of Special Resolution in May 2020
  • Nominations will be sought for vacant GBNI Executive positions at the end of July
There is a range of other issues being considered by Executive and staff as we work our way back to the ‘new norm’.  Be assured we will continue to prioritise the wellbeing of our girls and staff.  Accordingly, GBNI do not expect District Executive to meet however, if you would prefer to meet please ensure you do so via Zoom.
The decision around how you manage a return within your Company must be led and agreed by your church leadership and should follow the advice from the NI Public Health Agency for Educational settings which highlight full instructions on how to prevent and contain the infection alongside instructions on what to do in an emergency. 
Please visit https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/ and download their up to date guidance for educational settings https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-03/Guidance%20for%20schools.
At this time, we urge you to put your faith in God and trust that He will lead us through these difficult times. 
 
“….but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow
 weary, they will walk and not be faint”.
Isaiah 40:31
 
On behalf of the Executive Team and the National Secretary, we would ask you to continue to pray about the circumstances we find ourselves in and for the health and wellbeing of our community. 
 
Gail Clarke
GBNI National Secretary


11th June 2020

Good Afternoon Captains

I had queries regarding attendance for 26 weeks given the session ended abruptly.  Having raised this with our President it was felt that no girl should be discriminated against in terms of attendance being cut short due to COVID and that if a girl was on track to receive their attendance, the captain should use their discretion. 

This was circulated to Brigade Council for agreement at the beginning of June and was approved.

Gail Clarke

Update 05/06/2020
We have had a number of calls this week into GBHQ asking for an update regarding the plans for GB recommencing for the next session.  Details will be sent directly to all Captains/Correspondents via email as soon as plans have been agreed and laid out by the GBNI Executive.  We hope to have this update with you just before the July holiday weekend.  

Update 25/03/2020

Dear GB Member,
It is with heartfelt sadness that I write to inform you that as of today I have made the decision to close GBNI Headquarters (GBHQ) for the foreseeable future.  The health and safety of our staff is of paramount importance and therefore I am implementing our home working policy for all staff.

Our staff team remains committed to ensuring the continued operation of the organisation we all hold dear; functioning as efficiently as possible during these uncertain times.  Some work plans and schedules have changed but our focus on preparing for the new GB session has not!

Staying connected with GBHQ

Telephone – If you need to call GBHQ, whether for the shop or for the office, please dial our usual number 028 9454 8054 and you will be re-directed to Laura Kelso, our Admin Officer, alternatively dial 07928 810 610.  If Laura cannot answer your query straight away, she will take a note of your message and contact number and will pass it on to the relevant member of staff to call you back.  Please expect their call to be marked as ‘No Caller ID’.  Our home working hours are 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Email – All staff are still contactable by email and you will find their direct email addresses here at https://gbni.co.uk/about/our-headquarters/staff-team.  Also our info@gbni.co.uk email address will also continue to be monitored.

Social Media – The power of technology and social media will be the best way for us all to support and encourage each other through these difficult days ahead.  We have some great ideas on how we can support our GB families whilst at home and the plans are well underway.  Our Programme Officer is busy working on our Resources4home toolkit and will have this on our GB website and on social media as soon as possible. This resource will be much like our usual Resources4U magazine but for parents to use at home with the girls.  It is vital that we, as an organisation, continue to support our GB families anyway we can and to bring the love of God and the truth of the Gospel into every home.  So please keep an eye out for this coming soon and share on your social media platforms and/or email/text the link to your GB Parents.

Website – Our GB website remains up and running and we will be doing some work in updating forms and resources during this time.  Our Online GBNI Shop will remain open for orders to be placed but no orders will be dispatched until it is safe for staff to return to the office following government instruction.  If possible, please pay for all online orders by debit/credit card.

Post – Our post is being re-directed via Royal Mail but can we encourage you not to post anything to GBHQ unless it is essential to do so.  Brigader Progress Books can no longer be processed at this time, so please refrain from posting these to GBHQ.  Please do not hand deliver items into our post box at headquarters as the premises may be vacant for long spells of time.
 
Prayer- If you, a member of your family or another GB member require prayer for whatever reason, please send through a prayer request via the ‘contact us’ page on the GBNI Website or email Lesley via spiritual@gbni.co.uk.  In the interest of GDPR, please ensure you to have permission to share personal details beforehand.

Making a payment - If you need to send in a payment, please use the following methods:
Via our BACS Payment facility which the Account Holder can arrange to be set-up with their bank via telephone or online banking.

Our BACS Transfer details are as follows:

Sort Code:                     98-01-80
Account No.:                 10351695
Account Name:             The Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland
Reference:                    ‘state what it is for’ and your company number*
*It is very important that you have your company number included as this will make administrating your payment easier.

For shop orders, please either pay online directly or email customerservice@gbni.co.uk noting your order number and a contact number and Margaret Megahey will be in contact to take payment over the phone.
To pay for courses, events, training applications etc., please either pay online directly (if available) or email corporateservices@gbni.co.uk noting your booking details and a contact number and Debra Gribbon will be in contact to take payment over the phone.

GBNI Scripture Course - You will be able to order your Scripture Course from 1st April online at the GBNI Online Shop, please remember not to add additional items unrelated to the Scripture Course to this order.  Please order these additional items separately.  If you cannot avail of the online service, you can complete the Scripture Course Order Form from the Leaders’ Section which will be available to download but please, if possible, scan and email the form to customerservice@gbni.co.uk and Margaret Megahey will be in contact to take payment over the phone.

Leadership Training Applications - If possible, please scan and email applications to admin@gbni.co.uk.  Please refer to payment methods above.

In closing, on behalf of all the staff team at GBHQ, I would like to send our love and prayers to each and every one of you.  During this time of isolation, please consider looking over ‘The Psalms’ scripture that we have studied over the past year; reflect and find comfort in the words of hope and reassurance that comes from this beautiful piece of scripture.  Hold fast to the promises that God gives us every day that He is with us and that He will not forsake us.  Remember to encourage and support each other, connect regularly with your leaders and GB families; share scripture, ask for prayer requests, be a community and ensure no one is alone.   Let’s be vessels for God and shine light into the world in these darkest of days.  We may not be able to do GB in our churches but nothing can stop us from seeking, serving and following Christ from the safety of our homes.
May God be with you all.
 
Gail Clarke
GBNI National Secretary



Update 17/03/2020

COVID-19 Statement
 
Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland has been carefully monitoring the situation regarding the outbreak of the Coronavirus across Northern Ireland.  Following new Government advice that everyone should stop non-essential contact with others and stop all unnecessary travel; it has been decided that all GBNI weekly meetings/activities, events and trips should be immediately suspended.  This is a regrettable decision and it has been made with a heavy heart but the safety and well-being of our members, their families and the wider community is paramount.

We appreciate the disappointment this will cause for our members, particularly at this time of year when displays, camps and outings are planned but we would ask you to postpone any events planned until the current health situation improves.

This suspension of activities will also include all GBNI team meetings, district meetings and general meetings.  We appreciate this will cause significant disruption to our calendar and potentially to our 2020-21 programme but we believe it is the only sensible option in this unprecedented situation.

As more information becomes available, we will liaise with our membership to ensure you are kept informed.  As you are aware, the situation is extremely fluid at present so at this stage it is impossible to plan ahead.
At this time, we urge you to put your faith in God and trust that He will lead us through these difficult times. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

At present, Headquarters remains open but this situation will be monitored according to the evolving health situation.  We would request that all contact with Headquarters is only by telephone or email. The well-being of the staff team is one of our top priorities.  The shop will be closed to drop-in customers but at present will continue to operate online. Again, we will keep our membership informed as the situation develops.

On behalf of the Executive Team and the National Secretary, we would ask you to continue to pray about the circumstances we find ourselves in and for the health and well-being of our community. 

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Psalms 107:19-21
 
Alison Stevenson                                                 Deborah McMahon
President GBNI                                                    Chairperson GBNI


Update 13/03/2020

Update information from the Department of Helath https://www.healthni.gov.uk/coronavirus.  We are facing  a
rapidly changing situation. It is therefore highly likely this guidance will be revised again in the very near future.

11/03/2020

With the increasing developments of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) it is important that we all in Girls’ Brigade NI take our duty of care to our GB members, volunteers and parents seriously.  It is important to not create a sense of fear or panic but take sensible and reasonable precautions to keep everyone safe whilst at GB and any activities associated with GB.

The decision around how you manage this outbreak within your company must be led and agreed by your church leadership and should follow the advice from the NI Public Health Agency for Educational settings which highlight full instructions on how to prevent and contain the infection alongside instructions on what to do in an emergency. 

Please visit https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/ and download their up to date guidance for educational settings https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-03/Guidance%20for%20schools_0.pdf.  Please read the document in full.  Within the document please refer to the term ‘School’ as your GB company and the term ‘pupils, students, staff and visitors’ as GB members, volunteers and parents.  Please check this website regularly for the latest advice before making any decisions regarding your GB company and the Coronavirus.

The Public Health Agency also has a number of posters that you may find useful to display on entrance doors and around your halls to promote good hygiene whilst at GB.  You can find them via this link https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/advice-covid-19-coronavirus.

Key points to consider whilst in GB:

 

  • When communicating information to parents regarding hygiene procedures etc. please be calm and use clear wording that the measures your GB company may take is as a precaution.

  • GB members including leaders/helpers should be advised not to attend if they are displaying cold/flu symptoms.  Please bear in mind adult:child ratios required under Safeguarding should leaders become unwell.

  • Carry out regular cleaning/hygiene checks throughout the company night, using antibacterial cleaning products, such as wipes or sprays and disposable cloths.  Regularly throughout the night clean all door handles, bathroom cubicle doors, taps, benches/seating, work surfaces, tables, kitchen units, bins and staircase hand-rails.

  • All sports equipment and craft equipment should be cleaned before and after use.

  • Provide tissues and bin with a disposable bag for each room.

  • If possible, provide hand sanitizer for your main entrance to be used by anyone entering the building.

  • All GB members should wash their hands regularly throughout the night with soap and water especially after using the bathroom and before and after preparing food.

  • Please limit the use of kitchen areas with the girls.

  • Chat to your girls about the importance of personal hygiene but provide reassurance and give support if they feel worried and have questions about what they have heard about the virus.

  • Review and revise your Company Night Risk Assessment and ensure procedures are put in place.

  • Communicate with your GB leadership team regarding your prevention led out by your church and ensure that all leaders comply fully.

Running a display/parents evening          
Take your church leadership’s advice on continuing with this event.

Camps/trips
Take account of the local environment and if travelling abroad, take advice from your travel agency/tour operator.

Competitions/District Events such as AGM/Services
Take account of the local environment and discuss at District Executive level whether to continue or postpone these activities.


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