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  • Planning events

Ensuring events are safe and successful

Holding events such as fun days, sales and fairs is a reliable and often lucrative method of raising funds for churches. But like so many things in life, it’s all about good planning. A successful event may last just a few hours, but you can be sure that weeks of thought and planning have gone into its organisation.  Without adequate forethought, events are much more likely to end in accidents and injuries – and a possible insurance claim.

Entertainment events are heavily regulated under current law, which defines them as work activities so lots of legislation applies. You may need to apply for a temporary event notice from your local licensing authority.

It goes without saying that as event organiser, you have a lot of responsibility regarding safety. The law requires you to ensure that any premises, entrances and exits, and any plant, equipment and substances are safe and pose no risks to the health of your employees, volunteers or visitors. Current regulation also stipulates that organisers need to make sure that visitors will be reasonably safe when carrying out activities at the event.

When it comes to preparing your employees and volunteers, the government’s Health and Safety Executive makes it very clear that you need to treat these two groups in the same manner.  Whatever training, information and protection an employee is given, a volunteer must be given the same.

This checklist gives you some helpful hints about how to organise an event:

tick boxMake sure the venue is suitable
Carry out a risk assessment for health and safety risks and fire risks

tick boxThink about how to manage crowds
Where will visitors park? How will then enter the event? How will you evacuate visitors in an emergency? You will need stewards who can direct people and help them remain safe

tick boxFirst aid
How you manage first aid will depend upon the expected number of visitors and the type of event. Your provision could range from a simple first aid box to a number of trained first-aiders

tick boxFood and drink
When planning food and drink at your event, you will need to consider two important pieces of legislation: the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006. If you are intending to cook food, consider how you will heat it. If you will be using deep fat fryers or bottled gas, you need to consider the risks these items create and manage them

tick boxAnimals
If your event includes animals – for example, a charity dog show or a donkey ride – you need to ensure the welfare of both the animals and your human visitors. Make sure there’s sufficient distance between animals and visitors – this prevents your visitors being nipped or having their foot trampled on

tick boxCash handling
With lots of cash changing hands, every stall or attraction should be provided with some type of cash box. A cash float will also be required for each attraction or stall. Don’t let too much cash build up; remove takings regularly and place them somewhere secure

You might also consider whether you can use a system whereby visitors buy credits or vouchers when they arrive and then spend these as they go around the event. This limits the taking of cash to just one secure point at the entrance to the event

tick boxCheck bouncy castles
There has been a lot of media coverage about the risks posed by bouncy castles. While we do not want to blow things out of proportion, it is fair to say that these attractions are a common cause of accidents to children so they need to be managed carefully. Refer to Methodist Insurance’s safety advice and instructions if you're planning using one for your event

tick boxExternal contractors need insurance
If you use an outside company to provide and operate a ride or amusement, or indeed any kind of activity, you MUST check before the event that they have adequate public liability insurance. Don’t just take their word for it: ask to see their policy. If there is an accident and it subsequently emerges that they do not have the necessary insurance, the church may be found liable

tick boxDangerous activities
Dangerous activities will certainly draw crowds to your event, but they do create risks which need to be carefully managed. As event organiser, if you decide to include some riskier activities such as firewalking or tackling a climbing wall, it is crucial you take all reasonable steps to safeguard participants. Many of these activities are heavily regulated so you will need to refer to the relevant legislation.

If you are planning to incorporate a dangerous activity into your event, you will need to contact Methodist Insurance in advance. This is because Public Liability insurance for some dangerous activities is not automatically included in your Church Shield policy. For a list of dangerous activities, see our Functions Guidance notes.

For more information call the team on 0345 606 1331

Methodist Insurance PLC (MIC) Reg. No. 6369. Registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester, GL1 1JZ. Methodist Insurance PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, Firm Reference Number 136423.