Last updated: 19 March 2020

There have been a number of cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK, GFS is monitoring and staying up to date with UK Government and Public Health England and are following their advice as the situation evolves. 

As advice changes, we will maintain this page with the most up to date information. If in doubt, please come back to this page. 

Group closures

We have taken the decision that it will be responsible and prudent to close all GFS groups as of the week beginning 23 March .

The hold on group activities will be in effect until the beginning of May, encompassing the Easter holidays. At this time, we will review how the situation has progressed and assess next steps. Updates will be provided by email and volunteer Facebook groups, so please make sure someone in your group is keeping up to date. We suggest that you also use your group’s closed Facebook group to keep parents up to date where necessary. 

Practical advice to volunteers in group

If a girl arrives at group and she or her parent is displaying cold or flu symptoms, please ask their parent to take them home again and not bring them to the group for at least seven days and seek medical advice should they develop a high fever or continuous cough, as per the government advice.

If you become aware of a coronavirus case in your group, please do not come to group. Please contact dsl@girlsfriendlysociety.org.uk as soon as possible and follow the UK Government advice. 

You may need to temporarily close your group at short notice if volunteers become unwell; make sure you have the following in your contacts on your phone so you can communicate with all concerned:

  • All volunteers at your group 
  • Your RDC
  • Designated Safeguarding Leads: Laura Sercombe 07341 208 622 or Carolyn Peers 07810 501 737
  • 31:8 GFS Safeguarding Partners  0303 003 11 11

Agree amongst your volunteer team who may access and how they may access girls/parents details in case need to let them know a group will be closed at short notice.

Keep your emergency contacts card with you when you are at group. 

GFS London office

GFS will be closing it’s London office as of 20 March. Unfortunately that means we will not be able to accept post during this time. Please rest assured that will otherwise be contactable – all staff will be working from home. You can call us on our normal office number, or if you are having any trouble getting in touch, email us at info@girlsfriendlysociety.org.uk

Have you or anyone at group travelled out of the UK recently? 

Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places, even if you do not have symptoms:

  • Italy (since 9 March) 

Anyone who has travelled to the UK from any of these countries in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, should stay indoors even if symptoms are mild and call NHS 111. In Wales call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or 111 if available in your area. If you’re in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885.

  • Mainland China
  • South Korea outside of special care zones 
  • Cambodia
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau
  • Vietnam
  • Myanmar

If you have returned from the following places in the last 14 days you should call NHS 111, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people even if you do not have symptoms. In Wales call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or 111 if available in your area. If you’re in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885.

  • Iran 
  • special care zones in South Korea as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea
  • Hubei province

The Foreign Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. Find more advice on travel on their website.

More information can be found on the  Public Health England site. 

Hygiene and staying healthy

Hygiene is a key defense in slowing the spread of coronavirus. These are a few tips for a safer group environment.

Volunteers and girls should;

  • Wash your hands thoroughly (20 seconds) on arrival at group use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Wash your hands before making, serving, or eating refreshments
  • Use bacterial wipes where necessary
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • Avoid shaking hands

Contact details

If you have any concerns and would like to speak to anyone, please call joint Designated Safeguarding Leads: Laura Sercombe 07341 208 622 or Carolyn Peers 07810 501 737 or email them on dsl@girlsfriendlysociety.org.uk