COVID-19 Update

Covid-19 Information

How we are responding to the impacts of COVID

Updated 28 May 2021

Our priorities

We are doing everything we can to support the young people who need us the most as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our priorities for 2021 are:

  • To deliver our mission and do meaningful work with as many young people as possible.
  • To remain financially viable.
  • To maintain strong and loyal partnerships with our customers, partners and donors.

We also want to ensure we adhere to the latest COVID-19 guidelines to keep everyone safe.

Our current position

We are delighted that we are now able to resume overnight residentials. However, like many others in the outdoor sector, we are feeling the deeper impact of being in hibernation for so long and foresee we will continue to feel the effects of this over the next 12-18 months. We have had to make significant cost savings across Outward Bound to survive. Things are now turning a corner; however, this has led to our overall staffing capacity levels being lower than they were before the pandemic hit in March 2020. We're also facing a recruitment challenge in our sector which is affecting us.

But we are Outward Bound. We are absolutely determined to bounce back and are working incredibly hard to rebuild ourselves.

We are very grateful for the loyalty and support everyone has shown to us throughout the pandemic. We are working hard to get our centres back up and running to full capacity so we can continue to provide the opportunities young people need to thrive and develop.

Delivery of our programmes

As we continue to be under the guidance of government and national governing bodies, all our programmes must be organised according to the latest guidance from the education, hospitality and outdoor sectors, as well as be in line with the latest government guidance for the three nations of England, Wales and Scotland.

Even with the easing of restrictions, the pandemic continues to impact the delivery of our programmes and particularly those that are planned to take place over the next few months. We are continually following the guidance and will respond accordingly as and when it changes. In the meantime, you will find information below on how we are running our residential programmes in accordance with the latest guidance as we know it now.

Further detail on how we are adapting our delivery is also available here: COVID safe at Outward Bound.

Education Residentials

In light of the above, we are sharing our current plans for the start of the new academic year as we know them now, with the hope that the situation improves from June. This is to give schools plenty of time to plan and think through their own logistics.

So, with effect from 1 August, the current plan is:

  • We will work in restricted 'bubbles' at each centre; bubbles can include up to 36 young people.
  • A bubble is defined as young people all from the same year group in a school.
  • Only one customer will be in our centres at any one time and group sizes will be up to 12 students.
  • A maximum of three students will be allowed to sleep in one dorm (except at Loch Eil, where this will be one student to adhere to Scottish guidance).
  • All visiting staff must stay in single rooms.

We are in the process of reviewing all our current bookings and our available capacity at each centre in order to keep as many bookings in place as we can. However, we may need to take the difficult decision to cancel, reduce or postpone some programmes if the situation does not improve. We are currently contacting all clients to discuss any changes that may affect their booking.

We have also made the difficult decision to not run any weekend courses between August and the end of the year; we are also contacting all clients who will be affected by this. We plan to run weekend courses again from January 2021.

We are determined to continue to deliver our mission and work with as many young people as possible, so we are offering our In-school Adventure programmes until the end of 2021. These offer a unique way to support young people and schools to be active without the requirement of travel. Our in-school adventures are now fully booked for the summer term, however, we are accepting enquiries for in-school adventures during the autumn term.

Early Careers Programmes

In light of the above, we are sharing our plans for Early Careers programmes due to take place after August as we know them now, with the hope that the situation improves from June. This is to give organisations plenty of time to plan and think through their own logistics.

So, with effect from 1 August, the current plan is:

  • We will work to separate zones within each centre for each client.
  • Mixed clients will be allowed at the same time subject to following COVID guidance.
  • Group sizes will be up to 12 participants.
  • A maximum of three participants will be allowed to sleep in one dorm (except at Loch Eil, where this will be one participant to adhere to Scottish guidance).
  • All visiting staff must sleep in single rooms.

We are in the process of reviewing all our current bookings and our available capacity at each centre in order to keep as many bookings in place as we can. However, we may need to take the difficult decision to cancel, reduce or postpone some programmes if the situation does not improve. We are currently contacting all clients to discuss any changes that may affect their booking.

Summer Adventures

Our Summer Adventure programmes are going ahead between June and August. We have made a plan to ensure we run these adventures in a safe and COVID-compliant manner, adhering to the latest guidance available.

All our 2021 Summer Adventures will be delivered as follows:

  • We will allocate single en-suite rooms for each young person (rather than shared dorm rooms).
  • We will operate with groups of 1:5 ratios (six people rule).
  • We will be forming social ‘bubbles’ and limiting mixing outside of the group.
  • Social rooms are limited to ensure two-metre social distancing.
  • We are encouraging participants to take a lateral flow test before coming on their Summer Adventure, and then at regular intervals during and after their adventure.

The pandemic has significantly impacted our programmes this year, and we have not been able to deliver as many adventures as we would have usually planned for. However, we are looking forward to welcoming as many young people back to our centres as possible in 2022.

GET IN TOUCH WITH US

We are continuing to take bookings for our range of programmes. However, we are not able to take phone calls on our main office lines but continue to provide a full service remotely via email (contact us). We're grateful for your ongoing support and patience in these exceptional circumstances.

Looking to the future

The challenges that young people face will not have disappeared but will have been made worse by this pandemic. And there is a need for Outward Bound; for space, freedom, adventure and fresh air.

Founded in the Second World War, Outward Bound has been there to help young people face challenge and manage uncertainty in their lives for 80 years. This is now needed more than ever before. We are determined to continue to do what we can to support the greater societal need. As a charity our mission is to help young people defy their limitations – and we are doing all we can to serve the thousands of young people who need us right now and in the future.