If you are taking children and young people on an overnight stay, there are some extra things you’ll need to consider.
Preparing parents, carers and children
Meet with parents or carers in advance to explain the arrangements for the trip and answer any questions they may have. Explain the steps you are taking to keep their children safe.
Ensure parents or carers know the address of where you will be staying and have an emergency telephone number they can call if they need to.
Talk to children and young people about keeping themselves safe and well while they are away. Give them the address of your accommodation and an emergency contact number, and make sure they know what to do if they get lost.
Make sure children and young people know who to talk to if they are unhappy or worried about anything – for example if they are being bullied, feel frightened or are or homesick. Make sure all staff and volunteers are prepared to help and know how to respond to child protection concerns that may arise.
> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse
Make sure there are separate sleeping, washing and toilet areas for:
- adults and children
- older and younger children
- boys and girls.
Overnight trips for mixed groups should include at least one female and one male supervising adult. Although accommodation for adults should be separate from children, it should be nearby.
If possible, arrange to have exclusive use of the accommodation. If this isn’t possible, try to negotiate the use of a whole floor and keep all the children’s rooms close together.
If children’s rooms are on different floors, adults should be available on each floor.
Make sure children know what to do if they need help in the night and if there is an emergency, for example a fire alarm.
> Our practice example will help you plan for residential trips
Homestays and exchange visits
If you’re arranging a homestay or exchange visit you need to consider whether children will be staying with suitable adults. You should:
- carry out the necessary vetting and barring checks if the homestay is taking place in the UK
- liaise with partner organisations to ensure appropriate safeguarding measures are in place (this may include carrying out vetting checks overseas)
- make sure hosts, parents and carers understand and are happy with the safeguarding arrangements
- make sure children and young people know what to do if anything makes them feel uncomfortable during their stay.
In England, the Department for Education includes guidance about homestay during exchange visits in Annex D of Keeping children safe in education (Department for Education (DfE), 2023). This may be helpful as an example of best practice in other UK nations.
What helps children and young people feel safe and happy on overnight trips?
Things that children and young people find helpful when they are away from home include:
- being able to take a special personal belonging
- having help finding their way around a new place – for example being shown where the toilets, eating area, recreational and meeting places and bedrooms are
- adults selecting who is sharing rooms fairly and making sure nobody is left out
- having communal areas for playing or meeting people
- being allowed to phone home
- having an identified adult to talk to about anything
- adults having a sense of humour and making jokes
- feeling like part of a team – adults making sure nobody is left out and arranging activities that involve teamwork
(Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) and NSPCC, 2017).
If a child or young person needs confidential help and advice direct them to Childline. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and children can also contact Childline online.