Most of the information contained on this website is provided by the organisations listed and not by Rotherham Borough Council or Rotherham Families Information Service. Even though a club, activity or service is included it does not mean it is recommended by Rotherham Borough Council or Rotherham Families Information Service, or that we have checked its quality. It is your responsibility to assess if the club, activity or service is of a high standard and able to safely meet your family’s needs.
Things to ask about when choosing a club, activity or service
The questions below may help you decide if a club, activity or service is likely to be well run and safe. Each club, activity or service should welcome questions about their activities and be able to give you the answers.
Some of these questions will apply to almost all organisations included on this site.
Some are more relevant for organisations like youth clubs or centres or a sports club for young people.
If you’ve got a particular interest or hobby, you may find groups which are for people of all ages, where the group is run by it’s own members. You will be welcome but, if the group is not specifically for young people, they are much less likely to have staff or volunteers as such.
Who runs the club, activity or service?
Is it part of a larger organisation such as Scouts or locally organised. If it is locally organised who funds and monitors the organisation?
How do they employ and train their staff?
For example, do leaders, staff and volunteers have CRB checks to make sure they can work safely with children? Do they check references?
How many leaders or adult helpers and volunteers are there for each activity?
(Normally there should be at least two adults present for any activity or meeting to operate safely). Many organisations have national governing bodies, which also provide quality information on staffing ratios and other aspects of the activity.
How do they expect their staff and volunteers to behave towards children and young people?
(This may be a written Code of Conduct for staff and volunteers so that everyone knows what standards of behaviour to expect. This might cover things such as physical contact with children, comforting children, accompanying children to toilets, addressing bullying, etc.)
How does the organisation keep everyone safe while taking part in their activities?
Is there a health and safety policy, a First Aid kit, a qualified First Aider and procedures for recording and notifying accidents? If there is an accident what happens? Is the organisation insured?
Do they get parents’ written permission before taking children and young people on outside visits, adventure activities and trips?
Do they have a management committee that meets regularly?
Are any local parents or young people on the management committee?
Are they happy for parents, children and young people to visit, meet those in charge and see activities?
How does the organisation deal with complaints?
Is there a complaints procedure and how do they make people who attend aware of it?
Finally, try to speak to other people who have been to the club, activity or service you are thinking about going to. They can give you an idea about what it is really like.
Before your first visit
Always be careful about your personal safety. Most of the organisations included on this site have child protection policies and will have carefully checked the background of their staff. Organisations especially for young people will have child protection policies; some of the others may not, especially if they are organisations for people with a particular interest, run by volunteers and with members who are mainly over 18.
Just as you are careful whenever you go out to meet new people, be careful when you are going to a new organisation for the first time, especially if it doesn’t meet in a public place.
It is sensible to phone first, to check that the information given here is still up to date.
Go with a friend, or, if that’s not possible, make sure that a parent / relative or friend knows where you are going and when you should be back.
If you’ve got a mobile phone, take it with you and make sure it’s charged up!
If you need to catch a bus, check the times so you don’t have to hang around.
Be as careful as usual about giving your name and address or phone number to new people; be sure you are confident about them.
If you or your parents / carers have any doubts about an organisation, check before you go for the first time. Refer to some of the questions you might ask.
When you first go to meet new people, don’t arrange to visit them in their homes or outside the normal sessions of the organisation.
If after your first visit you have doubts about the place, talk to your parents/carer or someone else you trust before you decide whether to go back.
Things to watch out for when attending an activity
The following may alert you to situations that are inappropriate.
Activities where parents and carers are discouraged from staying to watch or from becoming involved.
Individuals who take charge and operate independently of organisational guidelines.
Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific young people.
Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact.
Poor communication and negative responses to questions about staying safe.
A “win at all costs” attitude towards competitive activity.
Young people dropping out or stopping going for no apparent reason.
Invitations to spend time alone with staff and volunteers (or even to visit their home).
If you feel any of the above may be happening, contact the organisation immediately and ask questions.