Set up an established volunteer group

Holding events and activities

You must submit the following before doing any works or holding an event:

  • Work plan
  • Health and safety information
  • Risk assessments 
  • Insurance 
  • Event notification form
  • Disclosure and Barring Check (DBS)

Work plan - general maintenance

Groups must provide a work plan, setting out the activities they are planning to do. You can choose how often you want to develop the plan (monthly, annually etc.).

This work plan must be agreed with the Community Engagement Officer before any works can take place. Groups must tell the officer of any important changes to their work plan.

For one-off or recurring requests, these can be submitted using the Simple Notification Form. For more information, please contact the Community Engagement Officer.

Health and safety

The group must make sure that group members and members of the public are safe during the activity; this includes leaving the site safe after the activity.

Every group must:

  • Consider the location of your proposed activity
    For example, is it near a slippery bank or heavy traffic? It may be dangerous for volunteers to work in some areas and in certain weather conditions (for example, works taking place on a steep slope in the rain). In some cases, there may be certain areas that groups are unable to access.
  • Complete relevant risk assessments
  • Decide what tools are needed to carry out works
    Will group members need training before the works start? It is the responsibility of the group to organise training for the group and make sure all relevant group members are fully trained.
  • Use the correct personal protective equipment for the works
    For example boots, gloves, safety glasses and visibility vests.
  • Make sure each volunteer has been given the appropriate instructions or training
    Proof of this may be required (depending on the activity). If required, proof should be submitted to the Community Engagement Officer.
  • Have accident reporting procedures in place
    Make sure all members of the group are aware of these.

Risk assessments

Groups will need to carry out risk assessments and method statements. These must be submitted in advance to the Community Engagement Officer.

A risk assessment template is available from the Community Engagement Officer, who will also provide support and training if you need this.

The risk assessment should show the risks of the activities and list what measures will be put in place to prevent accidents.

Any accidents must be correctly recorded and reported to the group and the Council.

For more information on risk assessments, method statements and accident reporting, see the HSE website.


Groups will need appropriate insurances, usually public liability insurance, to cover all practical tasks and events.

There will be some circumstances where the Council's own public liability insurance policy will cover volunteers. However, this depends on Council policies and following this guidance. These include:

  • Groups helping the Council with a Council activity
  • A Council employee is present to supervise the particular activity

For tasks which fall outside of this, the group will be required to find their own insurance. Examples where insurance will be required include (but not limited to):

  • Litter picking
  • Edging on footpaths
  • Shrub pruning
  • Shrub and rose bed maintenance
  • Leaf clearing
  • Self-sown sapling removal
  • Creating woodland path ways
  • Creating wildflower areas

It may be helpful to get independent advice to make sure you have the correct insurance.

Event notification form

You will need to provide an event notification form for any event you want to hold.

Application forms should be returned three months before the event for small scale events, and six months for large scale events.

Events should not be held without written agreement from the Council.

It is illegal to display any advertising or directional signage on the highway or Council land without getting consent from the Council first. You may need to get advertising consent the Council's planning department for some of these.

For more information, see organising an event in South Tyneside.

Disclosure and Barring Check (DBS)

One or all members of the group may need to get full Disclosure and Barring Check (DBS) clearances if you want to do works in a location that has children or vulnerable groups (for example, a school, sheltered accommodation, etc.)

The Community Engagement Officer can advise if necessary.