Thank you for your support as we navigate these uncertain times.
All of us have had to adapt our daily lives to ensure we work and live within the government restrictions. I wanted to outline how British Orienteering is responding to the situation.
Advice and Guidance on COVID-19
With the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from the government can change quickly. For the latest information on COVID-19 in your area, please visit the relevant government website: UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government, nidirect, and Isle of Man Government.
As a result of the current restrictions, all orienteering events and activities in the UK and Isle of Man continue to be suspended. The Board is committed to keeping the situation under review and will continue to work closely with the national and regional associations.
Event Postponements and Cancellations
Our sincere thanks go to all the volunteers involved in the competitions and events that have had to be postponed or cancelled. We particularly want to thank those involved in the various British Championships and in the JK, and we are grateful for their timely response to a rapidly evolving situation. We are all very disappointed about the lost events, but recognise the public health imperative.
National Office Response
In common with many of your workplaces, we have now closed the British Orienteering national office and implemented remote working in order to protect our staff. We remain contactable by email or phone as normal. We have also suspended all business travel, and wherever possible our teams are using technology to replace face-to-face meetings.
There is now clearly significant uncertainty over British Orienteering’s income for 2020. The Board has reviewed income and expenditure for 2020 under several scenarios, considering the impact of a likely reduction in income from levies, major events and membership fees.
Helpfully, Sport England has relaxed the rules on how we can use the financial support that they provide. Two Sport England-funded members of staff, Tim Herod and Phil Conway, are retiring, and we will not be seeking to replace them. We understand from our partners in Scotland that they are in regular contact with sportscotland and there has also been some discussion regarding flexibility in their annual investment to support them at this time.
We have paused the recruitment for the new Access & Environmental Officer role, and will re-advertise this position when the situation becomes clearer.
Fortunately, British Orienteering has managed our finances to ensure that we can cope with eventualities such as this. While we will undoubtedly need to make significant changes to our plans for 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, we do not currently expect that we will be forced to make any changes for financial reasons, even if orienteering is suspended for a very significant period (i.e. more than six months).
Support for Clubs
Over the next two weeks, British Orienteering staff will be in contact with all clubs to discuss ways in which we can support you through this difficult period.
We are looking to use this time to develop an online training package on event safety. We also hope to collate a range of orienteering games and exercises that members can participate in from the safety of their homes, which will be published on our website.
We have held an initial meeting with the Events & Competitions Committee and the Events Scheduling Group to look at the future programme, and to explore possible options for rescheduling competitions when restrictions are lifted.
Once the current government restrictions are lifted, we want to ensure that clubs and associations are given the flexibility to restart grassroots orienteering as soon as is safely possible, and to get people out into the forest and streets again and enjoying the sport.
The ranking list has been frozen as of 20th March 2020, so that old scores will no longer age off while orienteering is suspended. We are exploring options for how to handle the calculation of new scores once orienteering resumes.
Due to the cancellation of the JK and the ban on non-essential travel, the AGM of British Orienteering Federation Limited will no longer take place on Friday 10th April 2020 in Stockton-on-Tees.
Given that there were no significant proposals on the agenda, this decision will not have any material impact on the running of British Orienteering in the short term. We have therefore decided that postponing the AGM is the most sensible course of action given the current situation. However, it remains important that we go ahead with the AGM when we can, not least to allow you to vote for your new elected directors.
We are required to give 70 days’ notice of any rearranged AGM, and will do so electronically as soon as new arrangements are confirmed. We are currently considering whether it would be better to wait until later in the year in the hope that we can have an in-person AGM, or whether it would be better to proceed with an earlier online AGM.
Both the 2019 Annual Report and the 2019 Financial Accounts, which would normally have been presented at the AGM, were substantially complete before the COVID-19 restrictions arose. To provide you with an update on British Orienteering’s activities and financial position over the past year, these will be published on the website shortly.
We are determined to make the most of this period, and are also aware that some of you may have more spare time than usual. We intend to continue as best we can with some of our major projects, and are exploring options for virtual consultation on the Strategic Refresh and the review of the membership system.
This extraordinary situation is likely to be with us for some time, and I am most grateful for the professionalism, resilience and support both of our employees and of you, the members.
We remain available to support you in any way we can, and I ask that you reach out to us through your normal contacts if we can assist you, or if you have any ideas that you think we could develop during this period.
With my very best wishes to you and your families.
Chief Executive Officer