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Managing your event safely

Our friends at the Big Lunch offer their advice on how to manage your event safely.
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Do we need insurance for our event?

Organising a community celebration shouldn’t be a complicated process. For most small parties or events taking place in private spaces you should not need insurance or licenses, just apply common sense.

By law there is no requirement from central government to have Public Liability Insurance for small residential celebrations in England and many councils do not insist on it. If you are asked to take out insurance or pay a charge, make sure to check what it is for.

If you are planning a street party and will be closing a public road, your council may require that you take out Public Liability Insurance as you are closing public ground and will be responsible for what happens there.

Public liability insurance covers against:

  • Accidental injuries to third parties (other people) and your volunteers
  • Damage to other people’s property
  • Legal or other costs arising from any of the above.

It doesn’t usually cover against:

  • Your employees if you run a legally recognised organisation (CIC, limited company or charity).
  • Accidental injury which isn’t due to negligence on the part of your organisation.

Costs of public liability insurance are likely to vary depending on the activity covered, the number of people and other factors. An insurance company will be able to advise you on coverage.

If your community group has legal status – in other words it is a limited company, CIC, charity, or other form of legally recognised entity, with employees (not just volunteers) then you may need employers’ liability insurance as well. Get in touch with an insurance company for more information.

Will we need other licenses?

In guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that one-off events such as street parties aren’t usually considered food businesses, so there are no forms to fill in and you don’t need a food licence.

If you want to hold a BBQ or cook outdoors, common sense applies. Set up the BBQ in a safe place where one person can be in charge.

If you are planning to sell alcohol at your event you may need a Temporary Events Notice and your council will be able to advise you on this. Please note that Big Lottery Fund cannot fund the purchase of alcohol.

You do not need a music license at a community event unless amplified music is one of the main purposes of the event and it has been promoted as such.

If you run into any problems organising your event, it is always worth talking to the council staff responsible and explaining the situation, including the existing legislation mentioned above. If money is required to move forward, then there are many simple fundraising options available to small community groups across the UK.

Do we need to do a risk assessment?

Depending on the nature of your event it might be sensible to carry out a risk assessment so that you can be confident that the day will go off without a hitch. Some local councils may require you to do this if you are closing public ground.

Example: you are holding a street party and will be serving food from a barbeque.

Questions to ask:

What are the hazards?

  • Fire safety
  • Food safety

What/who might be harmed and how?

  • Fire safety – there is a danger of personal injury and property damage to those operating the barbecue and in its immediate vicinity and the general surrounding area of the barbecue.
  • Food safety – there is a danger of food poisoning from undercooked food or food that has not been properly prepared to those eating food from the barbecue.

What rating would you give these risks – low/medium/high?

  • Fire safety – medium risk. An experienced person needs to operate the barbecue.
  • Food safety – low risk. Common sense in food preparation and storage should prevent food poisoning happening.

What are you already doing to lessen these risks?

  • Fire safety – procuring fencing to close off the barbecue area from the rest of the street. We also have a trained first aider who will be attending.
  • Food safety – the person who is operating the barbecue is a confident cook who is aware of food hygiene standards.

What further action needs to be taken?

  • By whom? Procure a fire extinguisher and fire blanket for the barbecue. Get a cool box to store uncooked meat for the barbecue.
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