Community Centre Handbook

Introduction

The Management Committee are directly responsible for the day to day operation of the Community Centre. The Management Committee will have different levels of responsibility depending on whether they are delivering the activity themselves or providing a let to another organisation which is carrying out the activity.

Management Committees are also responsible for ensuring that they operate within the law.  Therefore in order to keep the members of the management committee safe from prosecution the management committee must be aware of the laws that apply to their activities and ensure they operate within them.

It is not possible to list every law that will affect a community centre activity.  For instance road traffic laws will be relevant if you are organising a trip in a minibus, food regulations will apply if your selling food etc.

This section will provide information on some of the key legislation and regulations including information in relation to:

  • Data Protection;
  • Child Protection And Vulnerable Groups;
  • Health and Safety;
  • Providing and Selling Food;
  • Licenses You May Require;
  • Paid Staff And Workers;
  • Employment Status (Self-Employment And Employment);
  • RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations)

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Data Protection

The Data Protection Act 1998 places obligations on organisations that use personal information.  All of the Community Centre tenants use personal information, even if it is to keep names and address of the committee members.

The Act states that those who record and use personal information must be open about how the information is used and must follow certain principles of good information handling.

There are eight principles that you must follow.  These require that personal data shall be:

  1. fairly and lawfully processed;
  2. processed for limited purposes;
  3. adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  4. accurate;
  5. not kept longer than necessary;
  6. processed in accordance with the data subjects’ rights;
  7. secure; and
  8. not transferred to countries outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection.

Under the Act every organisation that processes personal information must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office, unless they are exempt.  Failure to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office, unless you are exempt, is a criminal offence.  The cost of notification is currently £35.  (January 2017)

More information is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office at https://ico.org.uk/.

A model data protection policy is available here.

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Child Protection And PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups)

The National Child Protection Guidance 2014 places greater emphasis on the collective responsibility in communities for child protection.

 ‘’Child protection is the responsibility of everyone, who works with children and families, regardless of whether that work brings then into direct contact with children.  All workers should be fully informed of the impact of adult behaviour on children and of their responsibilities in respect of keeping children safe.”

This means that even if a community centre does not directly deliver services for children those involved do still have responsibility to recognise the potential risks to children and work with others agencies to ensure their safety.

A simple Child Protection Policy that can be used by any organisation is available here.

A simple Child Protection Concern Form and Child Protection Code of Conduct is available here.

Information from the local child protection partnership can be accessed online at http://www.childprotectionpartnership.org.uk while the national guidance can be downloaded in PDF format from http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00450733.pdf

Organisations that deliver child services, or adult services to vulnerable groups, require to become members of the PVG scheme. Guidance and free membership is available from Volunteers Scotland by phone on 01786 849 777, e-mail at disclosures@volunteerscotland.org.uk and via their website at http://www.volunteerscotland.net/disclosure-services/for-organisations

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Health and Safety

A Management Committee of the Association can be regarded as a legal entity under health and safety law, even if it doesn’t employ anyone and is only made up of volunteers.

It has no responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act for risks created by the work activity of others, such as those maintaining the building, or for the activities organised by those who use the hall.

However, where a management committee has control over the hall, they should take reasonable measures to ensure the hall, and any equipment or substances provided there, are safe for the purposes visitors are expected to use them for.

Where more than one person or organisation has control over a building, they will all have joint responsibility for it.

The Health and Safety Act 1974 states that if an organisation employs 5 or more people the employer (Management Committee) must have a written Health and Safety Policy, which should contain a statement of general policy on health and safety at work and the organisation and arrangements for putting it into practice.

The policy should be reviewed annually and/or in the light of experience or any legal changes.

A model Health and Safety Policy is available here.

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Fire Safety and Procedures

The Fire (Scotland) Act requires anyone occupying non-domestic premises to take steps to prevent fire and mitigate the detrimental effects of a fire on the premises.

The Management Committee will therefore be responsible for ensuring that a fire safety risk assessment is carried out regularly for the premises.  These fire risk assessments are currently carried out, free of charge, by a Health & Safety Adviser from the Council who will prepare a report and recommended actions.

The Management Committees need to be aware of their responsibilities in relation to fire safety and any actions identified. Therefore the assessment will have to be formally discussed at a Management Committee meeting and the decisions in relation to each recommendation minuted.

A condition for receiving this free service is that you send the completed action plan to the Health and Safety Coordinator for Communities, Housing and Infrastructure.

The Management Committees may wish to make alternative arrangements.  In which case a detailed Fire Risk Assessment of the premises must be undertaken by a competent person.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service may ask to see the assessment, as may Aberdeen City Council in relation to issuing a Public Entertainment Licence.

More information can be found at in the fire safety guidance booklet “Are you aware of your responsibilities?” which can be downloaded from: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0040/00402262.pdf

Documents which can be used as the basis for fire safety policies and recordings can be found here.

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Accident Reporting

All accidents, no matter how small, must be properly reported. This should be done even if it appears that no injury has been received. Additionally, staff or users must report ‘near misses’ or potential hazards to the Management Committee to ensure situations are investigated and preventative action taken where required. An appropriate Accident Book should be kept by the Management Committee and completed by a Management Committee member or Activity Leader as required.

As opposed to an accident book a folder of report sheets could be kept.  An example of a report sheet is available here.

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985 (RIDDOR) the following must be reported to the Health and Safety ‘Executive’ immediately.

  • If somebody dies or is seriously injured in an accident.
  • If there is a ‘dangerous occurrence’.
  • If anyone is off work for more than three days as a result of an accident.

While the management committee will have a responsibility to report such matters to the Health and Safety ‘Executive’ that does not mean that the management committee is accepting they are responsible for the accidents or incident.

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Risk Management

Everything that happens within a community centre carries some level of risk.  Management Committees need to consider all the areas of their centre and the activities taking place and asses the level of risk.  Action can then be taken to minimize any risk. A risk assessment can be carried out for each activity or area of the community centre.

Principles:

The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify the measures needed to protect employees, trustees, visitors and others who may be affected by the risk. All staff and volunteers are encouraged to be vigilant and report any hazards to the Management Committee.  The Management Committee, Volunteers and Activity Leaders are all encouraged to adopt the following protective and preventative measures:

  • Where possible, avoid risk altogether.
  • Reduce unavoidable risk to a minimum.
  • Adapt work practices to minimise adverse effects on health and safety.
  • Give priority to measures which protect the whole workplace.
  • Encourage and promote an active health and safety culture within the centre.

Risk assessments should cover all the activities carried out by the management committee and should be reviewed on a regular basis (ideally annually.)

Management committees are not required to carry out the risk assessments for organisations who hire rooms from them.  It is the responsibility of the organisation hiring the room to carry out a risk assessment for their activity.  It is therefore important when hiring out halls and rooms that a letting form is completed to clarify what the management committee is responsible for and what the organisation, or individual, Hiring the room is responsible for.

The management committee’s activity in cases such as this is simply to hire a room, or hall, that is safe.

A sample risk assessment form is available here.

Sample hall hire form is available here.

A Health and Safety ‘Executive’ risk assessment and policy document is available at www.hse.gov.uk/risk/risk-assessment-and-policy-template.doc

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Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)

Using chemicals or other hazardous substances in the centre can put people’s health at risk, so the law requires employers (including management committees) to control exposure to hazardous substances.

What is or what is not a hazardous substance?

In the vast majority of commercial chemicals, the presence of a warning label will indicate whether COSHH is relevant.

For example, there is no warning on ordinary washing-up liquid, so when used, COSHH regulations do not apply; but if there is a warning label, COSHH regulations do apply.

To comply with COSHH the following steps require to be taken:

Gather information about the hazardous properties of the substances, the work, and the working practices (or find out what the problems are):

  • Evaluate the risks to health;
  • Decide on the necessary measures to comply with Regulations 7-13 of COSHH;
  • Record the assessment (if you have 5 or more employees);
  • Decide when the assessment needs to be reviewed.

Labelling is done for all users’ protection and therefore it is important to read and heed the warnings regarding use and storage.  The Management committee is responsible for ensuring the safe storage of hazardous substances.

Further information can be obtained from the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk

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Food Safety

It is recommended that members of centre user groups who handle food, even if only occasionally, should undertake training in food hygiene and successfully complete the Elementary Food Hygiene Course.

Regulations now advise where organisations such as community centres prepare or serve food to the public, that these organisations should register with their nearest Environmental and Consumer Protection Officer.

A registration form is available from here.

More information is available from Aberdeen City Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards Team at www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/planning_environment/environmental/food_standards/fas_Enforcement.asp or by calling 01224 523800.

Information regarding good food safety is included in the CookSafe manual which can be available from www.foodstandards.gov.scot/cooksafe

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Licensing and Licence Requirements

Some activities that take place with a community centre require certain licenses to be in place.  These may be issued by government agencies or by private companies.  There are many different licences that management committees may require and due to the varied nature of the activities it would not be possible to list them all in this handbook. Below are some of the most common licences that are required.

More information on licences you can be obtained at http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/law_licensing/licences/licensing/lic_Licensing_Home.asp

Public Entertainment Licence

All Community Centres require to have a public Entertainment license in place.  Aberdeen City Council agreed to a 75% reduction for community, charity, voluntary and religious groups.

Theatre Licence

This licence is required where it is intended to perform any play or ballet in whole or part of in public. It does not matter if the play is free a licence is still needed.  A theatre licence is required for any premises or any place whether or not another type of licence is in force.

Market Operators Licence

This licence is required for holding a private market, such as a car boot sale, where goods are offered by more than one seller for sale to the public. You may not need one if the proceeds are used for charitable purposes or not for private gain.

Television Licence

The centre needs to be covered by a valid TV Licence if a television is used to watch or record programmes within the community centre. This includes watching television through devices such as a TV, computer, mobile phone, games console etc.  You do not need a TV licence for CCTV. You can get more information from http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk

Performing Rights Licences

There are two different types of licence under this heading. One is from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) for Music which represents music writers, composers and publishers the other is Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) License this represents record companies and performers. Both of these operate differently and have different terms and conditions. Playing live copyrighted music in public may require a PRS for Music licence. Playing recorded copyrighted music in public may require both licences.

For more information on this community buildings tariff please use the following link http://www.ppluk.com/I-Play-Music/Businesses/How-much-does-a-licence-cost/Business-type-115/

Bingo Licences

In most circumstances organisations do need an operating licence to run bingo. This licence covers bingo halls and if you are charging people to play.

However, you do not need a bingo operating licence if you are fundraising or running bingo as prize gaming. If you are fundraising through bingo you must tell the players who you are raising funds for and all money raised must go to the good cause stated. You can subtract reasonable costs from the profit of running the event for things like prizes. More information is available from here regarding Bingo Licenses.

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Employment Of Staff

Many Community Centre Management Committees will decide that they need to pay people to carry out some of their tasks.  The types of positions can be varied from Cleaner to Centre Manager, Childcare Worker to Tutor.

The payment of individuals will likely result in the Management Committee having to adhere to employment law or contract law.

Management Committees may choose to directly employ someone or “contract” a self employed person to carry out a piece of work.  Expert or legal advice should be sought in either case to ensure that procedures are followed correctly, as it is the nature of the arrangement that dictates the employment status.

There is a guide from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) that explains how to work out whether a worker is an employee or self-employed. It lists the key factors that affect employment status, and it explains how HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can help you get it right.  It can be accessed online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/employment-status-indicator

If the Management Committee decide to employ staff then they are responsible for ensuring they meet employment regulations.

The HMRC website has all the information you need in order to register as an employer and ensure that you can process pay, tax and national insurance payments correctly.  Visit the site at https://www.gov.uk/employing-staff

Paying staff, and HMRC, is only part of being an employer.  As a good employer you need to ensure you can recruit the people, provide paid annual leave, are able to address staff grievances etc.  As a good employer you need to ensure you can manage your staff.  This not only benefits the community centre, but benefits the staff as well.

Another useful source of information regarding employment is from ACAS.  ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service and their website is located at http://www.acas.org.uk

ACAS provide information, advice, training, conciliation and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.  They have a section for new employers including a free downloadable PDF guide.

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