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Guidelines for organising events

Every GOC event is different but these guidelines seek to put together some common principles which will help members organise a successful and safe event.

Every event must have a leader who has overall responsibility for the event, and that person must be a Member of GOC (not a guest). That person may, or may not, be the contact listed in the event details.

Advice on specific activities is given in the menu options on the left, listed below and in our Health and Safety Policy. If you have any other questions on organising an event, please contact our Events Officer.

These guidelines have been compiled from the experiences of GOC groups and we intend to update them regularly. If you have any suggestions for future versions of these guidelines please send them to the Group Liaison Officer

Tips and Hints

Here are some tips and hints that have been passed by Group Coordinators which can be seen as best practice for maintaining a healthy group. I am sure many of you are already doing these but you might find something new to you.

  • When trying to recruit walk leaders follow up an email to the group with a 1:1 chat to ask people if they would lead a walk. They will be flattered that you asked and more likely to agree.
  • When planning the walks for the year put each walk on the web site as a place marker. They can be flagged as provisional, will act as a reminder and prevent other groups duplicating walks on the same date and area.
  • Grade the event as ‘Easy’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Difficult’ so that members can ensure they are fit enough to attend. If you have your doubts they are able to complete the event or maintain a suitable pace have a quiet word with them to encourage them to choose appropriate events.
  • Send out a reminder email to your group a few days before the walk including a link to the walk to make sure everyone remembers there is a walk at the weekend. If it is a particularly interesting walk email guest accounts, including a link to the Join page.
  • Encourage people to add their names to the online attendee list so that others know there will be plenty of people to talk to.
  • Do not send out details of events to non-members. Ask them to create a free online trial account or pay for membership for the details.
  • Always add images to your event listings. Look at other listings and try to copy their best features.
  • Put an event report online telling everyone what a good time you had with photos from the event to spice it up.
  • At the end of the year send out an end of year report to your group highlighting and thanking all walk leaders and event organisers.
  • Organise walks to start from a station or offer a lift from the nearest station to the start point so those without transport can attend. We have received a lot of feedback that lack of transportation prevents many people attending.
  • Attach the “Women” group to your event to indicate you know a woman will be attending. More women will then be attracted as they will have female company. Make sure all the women in your group know about this so they can tell you when to add the group flag.
  • Put the event report and photos onto Facebook to spread the word.
  • Always ensure the event is introduced, the people attending are greeted and any newcomers are welcomed.
  • Chat to newcomers and make sure they have all the information they need and look out for them to make sure they do not walk on their own too much or sit on their own over lunch. Talk to them at the end of the walk to get feedback and ask if they intend to come to the next event.
  • Put yourself as event contact. You are then able to make sure all inquiries are answered and prevent event details from being released to non-members.
  • Mention Gift Aid to members at appropriate times to help with club finances.
  • Maintain a core list of walks and leaders to call on.
  • Make the end of walks sociable by organising members to bring tea and cake or end the walk at a pub or tea shop.
  • Encourage sociable events such as meeting at a  pub, restaurant, weekend away, cinema nights, theatre, train trips ,museum trips, local village fairs etc
  • Organise joint walks with neighbouring groups to encourage members to mix
  • Make planning meetings sociable occasions to encourage participation.
  • Share the load of leading by recruiting helpers to take on aspects of leading a group. This will also help you with finding a replacement for you, succession planning is important in keeping your group healthy.
  • Get more walk leaders by buddying up with them for the first few times they plan and recce walks and make sure you are on hand to help them on the day.
  • If you have links with other social organisations ask if they want to tie up with GOC so that the membership of both organisations benefit. Give their details to the Chairman who will follow this up.
  • If your group has mixed ability split into 2 groups and the slower group can take a short cut.
  • Ensure you put on a mix of events so that you cater for all abilities. Short walks will bore those with too much energy and long walks will put others off attending.
  • Set yourself the challenge of having at least one walk a month, at least one weekend away a year, one non-walk event every other month i.e. cycling, swimming, indoor climbing, social. Challenging people with something new will keep the group fresh.
  • Encourage members to organise last minute events if they see an opportunity. You do not have to rely on events appearing in the magazine as most members are searching for events on the website.
  • Put meaningful information in the Event Key field so you can search for the event and re-use the details.
  • Put on events in any county, province, country, continent and planet. Groups are divided up by counties in general but that does not mean you have to stick to that boundary. You do not need to ask permission to put on an event elsewhere but you will need to tell relevant parties so events do not clash.
  • Do not form cliques. Surveys have shown members have not renewed their membership because they felt left out of the group. If that happens to existing members it may also be happening to Trial account holders. Speak to new people as soon as you see them and walk with them for a while, get to know them, introduce them to others. Meeting a group of people can be intimidating and it is your job to break down social barriers. If you are not a people person recruit someone who is to assist you and have them buddy up with new members.
  • Link your event to as many groups as are relevant. i.e. if it is a cycling event in Lincoln attach to the Lincoln Group and Cycling Group and this will draw people in from other areas who subscribe to the Cycling Group.

Advertising and Promoting Events

GOC events must be entered into the club’s event database which will ensure that it is publicised in:

  • The website, where it is visible to members and guests; and
  • The magazine, which is sent to members.

Event details on the website

We are looking to improve the event content on the web and subsequently the content in the Outdoors magazine by ensuring all relevant details are present and information which will “sell” the event to existing members and guests is included. It is easy to fall into the trap of only putting up the bare essentials when we are busy doing other things however it is important to present your event in an attractive way so that participants are drawn to events and your group flourishes.

The following prompts can be used as a checklist to ensure that the essential information participants will need is included and reduces the number of enquiries you will receive.

  • Distance of walk
  • Terrain / difficulty of walk (hilly, through woodland, flat, restrictions such as stiles)
  • Describe the start point providing coordinates and the post code for those with satnav (available from the streetmap.co.uk link “Click here to convert coordinates” at the bottom of the screen)
  • Provide start time and estimated end time
  • Whether walkers should bring a packed lunch or money for a pub lunch.
  • Event contact. You might consider putting the group leader as the event contact as they will have had more experience dealing with enquiries from guests and this is an opportunity to provide a welcoming to potential new members.
  • Attach your event to as many groups as are relevant. i.e. if it is a cycling event in Surrery attach to the Surrey Group and Cycling Group and this will draw people in from other areas who subscribe to the Cycling Group.

Some groups have additional activities and information which they include with the walk such as:

  • Inform members that hot drinks and/or cake and/or biscuits will be provided at the end of the walk. Some group’s members regularly bring home baked cake to share at the end of a walk to go with hot drinks organised by the group leader and including this in the details reminds people to bring a cake.
  • Breakfast at the beginning of the walk.
  • Pub stop for drinks or supper at the end of the walk.
  • Lifts offered from nearby train stations if the start point is remote. Lifts can be arranged via the public message board for the event or the designated event contact.
  • Mobile phone number for if people need to contact the event leader on the day.
  • Upload an image of the route drawn on the map which can be made by scanning or photographing the map.

Drawing people to the event

Having a photo in the event contacts profile provides a friendly face to the event and makes GOC appear more approachable. Guests are then more likely to ask for details on the event and can look out for the event contact on the day for an introduction to the group.

Photos are very good way to draw people to an event. Photos of views, points of interest, the trail, interesting buildings etc help to set the scene and generate interest.

Providing descriptive text on the event will also help engage people. A paragraph or two giving people an idea of what to expect fires the imagination, draws people in and people go on the event expecting to have a good time.

If you need any help setting up events on the web site then please contact our Events Officer.

Promoting events

Most groups send out reminders of their events to people on their mailing list. This can easily be done from the website and is very effective at prompting people to attend events.

If you are organising a special event (e.g. a weekend or special activity) please tell the Editor who can make it a featured event and give it further publicity.

Some groups have successfully advertised selected events on other websites and local venues – contact the Publicity Officer for further ideas.

Participants on Your Event

Suitability and preparation

A person who is not suitably equipped and prepared for an event is a potential hazard to themselves and to others. The event leader is entitled to refuse to allow someone to participate if they prejudice the safety of the event.

Such decisions are often borderline and you may wish to ask the views of other participants. If you allow a person to participate it is essential that you tell them of your concerns and make it clear that the decision is theirs and that they have to accept responsibility for themselves.

To avoid such difficulties at the start of an event it is important to give details of the requirements for the event to everyone who may attend. The best way to do that is to include them in the entry on the GOC website when it is first published (some people may not see it if it is amended later).

Children and Vulnerable Adults

We wish to welcome all to GOC but the club does not have suitable policies in place to enable the unaccompanied participation of children (under 18) or vulnerable adults (people who are not fully able to make decisions on their own behalf) in its events.

Children and vulnerable adults may, at the event leader’s discretion, attend if accompanied by a parent or carer normally having responsibility for their care. The responsibility for their safety and welfare rests with the accompanying adult who should have regard to their physical needs, safety, comfort and limitations.

We do not organise events for children, and attendance by organised groups of children is not permitted. We cannot allow children or vulnerable adults to attend any overnight event or other event where accommodation is provided.  Further details can be found in our Safeguarding policy.

Disability

Disability is a very broad ranging term and can include people who have asthma, diabetes, epilepsy as well as people who are partially sighted, hearing impaired or who have mobility problems. We want to be as inclusive an organisation as possible and none of these, or any other disabilities, is a bar to joining GOC.

The extent to which a person with disabilities can participate in an event will depend upon the nature of their disability, the event itself and the support available. Safety of the person with disabilities and of others participating in the event is the primary consideration. Most people with disabilities are aware of their abilities and limitations and it is their responsibility to make judgements accordingly.

In order to help people with disabilities take part in GOC events, and to comply with the Equality Act, we should:

  • Have accurate information available beforehand about the type of activity, distance, terrain, rest stops etc;
  • Make that information available in different ways – in the magazine, on the website, by e-mail or by phone;
  • Find out what support the person may need and whether they will have someone with them.

Our Ability group specialises in promoting outdoor activities for people who are disabled – we aim to provide events to suit all abilities.

Specific Guidance for Walking Events

Walking includes activities which may be described by the following terms:

  • Rambling
  • Hiking
  • Hill walking or fell walking
  • Mountain walking (including scrambling).

Classification of walking events

The website has four Event Types for walking. This is to help people understand if a day walk or longer event that involves walking is suitable for them and what to expect if they attend. The default setting is Moderate Walk. The walk leader or event organiser should select the most appropriate description for the event in question, which may depend on a number of factors including length of walk(s), type of terrain, location and time of year.

  • Easy Walk – leisurely walk for reasonably fit people with at least a little country walking experience. May include unsurfaced rural paths. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are recommended.
  • Moderate Walk – walk for people with country walking experience and a good level of fitness. May include some steep paths and open country, and may be at a brisk pace. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are essential.
  • Difficult Walk – strenuous walk for experienced country walkers with an above average fitness level. May include hills and rough country, and may be at a brisk pace. Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing are essential. People in doubt about their fitness should contact the event organiser or walk leader in advance.
  • Mountain Walking– see separate document defining Mountain Walking, which includes scrambling. In some mountain walking situations ropes, ice axes and/or other equipment may be needed for safety reasons (for instance because of the conditions) over ground that could normally be traversed without such equipment. However, activities that include ‘pitched climbing’, where members of a party ascend in stages one after the other with the aid of a rope, are classed by GOC as Climbing rather than Walking.

If in doubt about how to classify a walking event that you are proposing, please consult the Events Officer via the Contact page.

Safety and Advice

Walk leaders must take account of our Generic Risk Assessment – Walking.

Walk leaders and event organisers should also consider whether GOC’s advice about Safety in the Hills is relevant and if so put the following statement in the Event Details: ‘People intending to take part in this event should read GOC’s document Safety in the Hills .’ This will be applicable to any event that includes mountain walking and may also apply to other walking events in hilly and moorland areas.

Walk leaders may also find useful advice in the following documents from The Ramblers:

Specific Guidance for Cycling and Mountain Biking Events

This activity includes the use any type of pedal cycle on road, cycle path or bridleway (or the equivalents in Scotland).

Cycle leaders must take account of our Generic Risk Assessment – Cycling

Cycle leaders may also find useful advice in this document from the CTC: CTC – Guidelines for ride leaders

Guidance for Other Activities

Badminton, Gym and Swimming

These activities will take place in public venues appropriate to the activity (e.g. Sports Halls, Gymnasia or Swimming Baths) and the risk management strategies of the venue should be followed.

Running

When indoor, the activity will take place in public venues appropriate to the activity (e.g. Sports Halls or Gymnasia) and the risk management strategies of the venue should be followed.

When outdoor, running leaders must take account of our Generic Risk Assessment – Running

Camping and social

Camping will take place in camp sites or other places where camping is permitted.

Social events may be indoor (in private homes or public places) or outdoor.

For both activities the risk management strategies of the venue should be followed.

Overnight Events

Guidance

People organising or thinking of organising GOC events that involve an overnight stay will find our guidance: Organising Overnight Events very useful. This covers events ranging from short weekends not too far from home to longer trips in remote areas of the UK. The guidance is packed with information about:

  • Choosing a venue
  • Booking accommodation
  • Travel arrangements
  • Meal options
  • Daytime and evening activities
  • What information to give to participants.

The guidance is based on the experience of GOC members who have organised a lot of events including hostelling weekends, camping trips and events where participants book their own accommodation in B&Bs and guest houses.

Please remember that our Safeguarding policy does not permit under 18’s to participate in any overnight events.

Food Safety

The Food Standards Agency have provided a webpage Catering advice for charity and community groups providing food which gives guidance for those who are preparing food as part of an overnight event.

Finances

The club will consider underwriting events that are likely to be financially viable and meet GOC objectives. If you would like the club to provide a loan for and/or underwrite an event that you are proposing, please contact the Events Officer or the Treasurer via the contacts page. We hope this will encourage more people to organise weekend and longer events and increase the range of events that the club offers to its members.

Organising an Event Tickets & Booking Policy

If you are organising an event, before adding tickets:

  • If you need GOC to take financial responsibility, such as covering a deposit or any potential loss, you will need to submit a budget to the Treasurer and obtain approval.
  • If you are going to cover the costs or potential losses from your own funds (plus the proceeds from ticket sales), you will need to demonstrate to the Treasurer that you can do this.

Please also provide the following when requesting the Treasurer to approve tickets:

  • Who is to cover costs or potential losses: (GOC or Own funds.)
  • Who is responsible for the event finances: (this must be the first named event contact)
  • Who is allowed to book: (Members only or open to all.)
  • What tickets are you offering and what are their prices

Please note:

  1. You may also offer tickets for some events at nil cost, for example if you are using tickets to limit the number of people attending, rather than to cover costs of an event
  2. Event details should state that it is not possible to provide a refund if members are no longer able to attend the event.
  3. When setting the ticket price, the break even point should be set at not more than 90% capacity, so that if the event is not fully booked it will not make a loss.
  4. The cost of collecting payments online is 2% of the money collected, and as this will be deducted from the amount you receive, please take this into account when calculating what price to charge members.

Refund Policy

The club maintains a no refunds policy for bookings. The Event Organiser may choose to provide an alternative refund policy in the Event Listing however the club can not be held responsible for refunds.

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