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During the COVID-19 lockdown Connected Voice and our Support and Development team have continued to support the wide range of voluntary and community sector organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead. We know that some of you have had to close your buildings and have adapted what you offer so that you could continue to support some of the most vulnerable people living in our communities.

As lockdown has begun to ease and following the Government's announcement that Community Centres can open from 4 July, we have been talking to a number of you about how you plan and approach the future. How can you ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, community members and customers when you think about re-opening your building and the reintroduction of some of your activities and services?

The following documents have been developed to give some guidance to those of you who operate from a community building. We recognise that each of your organisations will have specific and particular risks unique to you. These could include the age range, the abilities and the needs of people who use your services and it will almost certainly include the design, size and layout of your building.

These documents will assist as a starting point for you to look in more detail at your environment so that you can make an informed decision about when you might reopen and what you can safely offer while making sure that you continue to keep yourselves and the people around you as safe as possible.

The first document is an option tree. It can be used as you and your team take a virtual walk through your building and it will help to suggest areas and issues that you need to consider, discuss and decide upon. Click here to download the Option Tree.

The second document is a risk assessment template or framework that will help you and your management committee/staff and volunteer team to assess the level of risk associated with areas of your building, activities or services. It is not comprehensive. It is a starting point. Connected Voice has added some points to it in order to illustrate the sort of information and detail that you will need to consider. You should remove some of the information and add your own details so that it meets the needs of your organisation. When you complete it with the details that are specific to your surroundings and the people who use the space, it will help you to make considered decisions about what you can provide as safely as possible. Click here to download the Risk Assessment Template.

The Government has also published new guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities. This can be found here and we would urge you to read it carefully: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities

If you'd like further advice and support from our Support and Development Team contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call: 0191 232 7445.