Child Protection Policy
This is a summary of the policy of George Starkey Hut Ltd in relation to child protection matters. The Company’s policy is consistent with the policy of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) on child safeguarding https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-updates-child-protection-policy
1. The George Starkey Climbing Hut in Patterdale is held on a lease from the Diocese of Carlisle. The lease is held by a Company George Starkey Hut Ltd (GSHL) which is a company limited by guarantee. The Alpine Club (AC) and the Association of British Members of the Swiss Alpine Club (ABMSAC) have equal stakes in the company. The company has 6 Directors, 3 of whom are appointed by the AC, and 3 by the ABMSAC. The Directors are supported by a Hut Management Committee, also comprising 3 members from each club. The company is responsible for the operation of the hut, including its maintenance, the setting and collection of overnight hut fees, and rules regarding access to and use of the hut.
2. Day to day management of the hut is the responsibility of the warden, who receives a small honorarium. Booking arrangements are the responsibility of the Hut Booking Secretary (HBS), but since the death of the previous booking secretary the warden has, temporarily, taken over the role of Booking Secretary as well.
Access to the hut
3. Members of the AC and the ABMSAC are entitled to use the hut subject to the booking arrangements (see below). There is a reciprocal agreement with the Oread Climbing Club whereby members of that Club are also entitled to use the hut and members of the ABM are entitled to use the Oread huts in North Wales and the Peak District. Additionally, members of other climbing clubs affiliated to the BMC may apply to use the hut. Similarly, other groups such as youth clubs, school parties, business and training organisations and similar bodies may use the hut, subject, again, to the booking rules.
Layout of the hut
4. The hut has 30 beds. There is a men’s dormitory containing 14 beds, a women’s dormitory containing 8 beds and a members room containing 8 beds. The purpose of having a members room is that the beds in that room are normally reserved for club members, but in practice the HBS has discretion to allow outside parties to use the beds in the members room if, as is often the case, it appears that they are not likely to be required by club members.
5. Arrangements for booking places at the hut are set out on the Company Website (www.george-starkey-hut.com) . Basically, any member, or the leader of any group wishing to book places in the hut is required to contact the HBS. If places are available and once the necessary fees have been paid the applicant is emailed a confirmatory form. This can be taken to the White Lion pub who will release a key on production of the form. The key is returned to the pub at the end of the visit. However members of the ABMSAC and AC may apply to receive a key on permanent loan, on payment of a deposit, thus avoiding the need to obtain a booking letter. There are 59 such keys loaned out. There is also a keybox on the door and the HBS may, as an alternative to sending a booking letter, tell the applicant what the code is. The website makes clear that the HBS should always be consulted before members arrive at the hut.
6. To assist people wishing to use the hut the website contains an availability calendar for the Main Dorms. In the event of an exclusive booking the HBS will “close out” all other beds in the hut, including the Members Room, so that they cannot be booked.
7. The website will in due course include access to an automated hut booking system, which will ensure that no bookings are taken when a party already has exclusive use of the hut.
8. The BMC statement of child protection policy makes clear that clubs which operate climbing huts have a duty of care to ensure that arrangements for the use of the huts by children or vulnerable adults comply with sound safeguarding policy. (A child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.) In particular it advises that when a hut is booked by an outside party which includes children club members should not be allowed to use the hut. It further advises that the organisers of such a party should be informed that they, and not the club, have sole responsibility for child protection arrangements. The Company’s procedures conform with this. If the Booking Secretary receives a request for hut places from a supervised youth group containing under 18s the party is required to take the whole hut including the members room. (The rate for this is discounted because such bookings are only accepted mid-week.) If a request from a members to use the hut coincides with an exclusive use booking the HBS the will tell them that the hut has been let on an exclusive basis and is not available to members on the nights in question. The coloured calendar on the website shows clearly the dates when this is the case. In addition a solid notice will be placed on the inner door of the hut to say that the hut has been let to an outside party on an exclusive basis, and that no places are available to Club members.
9. A different situation arises if a club member wishes to introduce a child as a guest in the hut, which could be either their own, or someone else’s child. Such bookings may be accepted at the discretion of the HBS. In such cases no attempt is made to exclude other members from using the hut but we make clear to the member that they are responsible for safeguarding the child or children in question. If the member is not the child’s parent or guardian they are reminded that they are in loco parentis with similar responsibility. When the child’s name is entered into the hut register the entry must be endorsed by the person responsible for the child. If the responsible person is not the child’s parent or guardian they are required to obtain a completed Parental Consent Form signed by a parent or guardian in the form recommended by the BMC https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-updates-child-protection-policy) . The completed form is then sent to the Club Secretary for retention. The Hut User Information Notes make this clear. If a member asks to bring a child on nights when an ABMSAC or AC meet is taking place the meet organiser is consulted before the booking is accepted. If another Club has booked places bookings for children will not be accepted.
Approved by the GSHL Board
16th February 2018