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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Be the change

Plan how your group can make a positive change in your community.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • A4 paper
  • Pens or pencils

Before you begin

  • This is a great activity to run during an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.
  • Make sure that everyone involved is aware of the content that will be discussed today and there are quiet and safe spaces for participants to go to if they need a break.
  • Check out the information below for more information on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Each year on 27 January we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, to remember:

  • The six million Jewish people who were systematically persecuted and murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.
  • The Nazis’ other victims, including Roma and Sinti people, disabled people, gay people, political opponents, and many others who faced persecution and death at the hands of the Nazis.
  • The millions of men, women and children who have been murdered in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

In this session we are going to learn more about these events, discover the experiences of people who were affected, and be inspired to take action.

Genocide does not come from nowhere. It is a process that begins with prejudice and discrimination. Genocides are still happening around the world today, and it is up to all of us to stand up against prejudice in our society today, so we can make the world a safer place for everyone.

Learn more about the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.


How can people enact real change in their societies?

  1. Choose one (or more) of the case studies below to read together.
  2. Consider the following questions as a group as a starting point to your discussion:
    • What motivated this person or group of people?
    • What change did they want to see?
    • What actions did they take?
    • What obstacles did or do they face?
    • What were the risks of taking action?
    • What were the benefits of taking action?
    • Were they successful?

Make a plan

  1. Everyone should talk about how we can make the world a better place. These questions may help you identify how you could make that a reality:
    • Who is discriminated against or persecuted because of their identity in British society today?
    • Are there any groups in your local community who face prejudice or hatred?
    • What practical steps can you take to help? This might include raising awareness, building relationships, finding ways to make people stop and think.
  1. Everyone should think about how to take action, and start to make a plan. You could write notes or draw pictures. Some ideas of actions you could take are below, but you can also think of your own:
    • Share the life stories you have learnt about during this activity.
    • Spread the word – in person and online – about situations that risk becoming genocides, or identity-based violence around the world.
    • Research situations in the UK and the wider world that need your help. What can you do? For example: raise money, promote your cause, do a collection of clothes or toiletries for people in need, sign petitions, write letters, participate in or organise a march.

In mid-December 2018, peaceful protests began against the Sudanese government. The president at the time was Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for almost 30 years. He had overseen the Genocide in Darfur, and atrocities in other regions of Sudan.

Al-Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989. In 2003 two Darfuri rebel groups launched a rebellion against the Sudanese government. Al-Bashir reacted by arming militia groups – the Janjaweed (which translates as ‘devils on horseback’) – to attack black African people in Darfur who were perceived to be supportive of the rebels.

Through the Janjaweed raids, thousands of villages were destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, and millions of people were forced to flee from their homes.

On 12 July 2010, the International Criminal Court issued indictments against the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, for three counts of genocide. However, he was not arrested and remained in power. Despite saying they would disarm the Janjaweed militia, the Sudanese government have employed them as ‘rapid support forces’, and they continue to attack civilians in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile regions.

Protests began in December 2018, partly as a result of the atrocities committed, but also in response to bad governance, lack of democracy, restriction of people’s human rights, food shortages and rising prices. Over several months the protests gained momentum and support, with people calling for justice, equality, peace and freedom. Women and young people joined the movement. For decades women have been repressed in Sudanese society, and denied equal rights to men. Young people have rejected the indoctrination they have received throughout their education to protest for a new and fairer society in Sudan.

Since the protests began, the Sudanese government and their militia have been reportedly responsible for killings, disappearances of people, harassment, sexual violence and detaining peaceful protesters. This did not deter the protesters despite the dangers they faced for simply speaking out.

On 11 April 2019, Omar al-Bashir was removed from the office of President. At the time of writing this resource, the next steps for Sudan are unclear, but protesters are committed to keep fighting until there is a democratically elected, civilian government.

Kemal Pervanić (pronounced per-van-itch) was persecuted in Bosnia for being Muslim. In 1992, Bosnian Serb forces imprisoned Kemal and his brother in the notorious Omarska concentration camp. He survived and now runs Most Mira, a charity building bridges between divided communities in rural northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kemal and his family were Muslims who lived in Kevljani in Bosnia. Life was relatively peaceful for Kemal and his family until he was 24 years old. The former Yugoslavia began to fall apart, and as this happened political groups began to form which were based on ethnicity.

Kemal’s school and community had been made up of Serb and Muslim people who worked and studied together. However, when the new authorities came into power they began targeting the Muslim population. Along with his middle brother, Kasim, Kemal was forced to live in a concentration camp in Omarska. His mum was sent to a separate camp and his dad and eldest brother fled to Croatia.

Kemal and Kasim were imprisoned in atrocious conditions with little water or food. The camps had been created for men and boys over the age of 12, and the guards were made up of the Serb members of the community from the surrounding villages and towns. This meant that some of the guards in the camps were the neighbours and fellow students of Kemal and Kasim.

Kemal and Kasim survived the camps, and they came to the UK shortly after they were released. With the help of the British Red Cross, they were able to bring the rest of their family to the UK and they were all reunited within about nine months of Kemal’s arrival. Kemal has resided in the UK ever since.

In 2008, Kemal established the charity Most Mira, which means ‘Bridge of Peace’. It works to bring together children and young people to learn new skills, make friends across ethnicities, and celebrate diversity in the Prijedor area of northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Omarska concentration camp was in this area, and there is still widespread denial about what happened there.

Most Mira runs youth arts festivals, theatre workshops, and peace-building visits and tours. Kemal and the other trustees are committed to address the ethnic segregation of young people in the region, who still go to segregated schools and have few opportunities to meet. They aim to prevent anything like the genocide Kemal lived through from happening again.

GerhardGad’ Beck survived the entire duration of Nazi rule living in Berlin, despite being both gay and Jewish. He made the decision to actively resist Nazi persecution, assuming a leading role in the Chug Chaluzi (pronounced hug ha-loot-si) Jewish resistance group.

Gad was born in Berlin in 1923 and had a twin sister called Margot. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Austria while his German mother had converted to Judaism.

Gad was nine when the Nazis took power in 1933. Over the next few years he was forced to leave school to go to work, and his family had to move from their home into a poorer part of the city designated for Jews. The clothes shop Gad worked in was vandalised during Kristallnacht, which means ‘the night of the broken glass’. This was a night of violent attacks on Jewish people, businesses and synagogues in November 1938.

This persecution led Gad to fully embrace his Jewish identity, and he connected with Zionist activists in the city. Through this network, they received warnings from Switzerland not to comply with Nazi orders to ‘migrate’ on transports to the east, because this would actually take them to their deaths in concentration camps.

The Nazis began deporting Jewish people from Berlin in September 1941. The Beck family were defined as Mischlinge (pronounced mish-ling-a), meaning people with mixed Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds, so they were not targeted at this stage.

Gad had begun a relationship with Manfred Lewin. Both of Manfred’s parents were classified as Jewish by the Nazis, and his whole family received the order to be deported in 1942. In a risky attempt to save Manfred, Gad borrowed a Hitler Youth uniform and persuaded the assembly camp commander that he needed to see Manfred for a short time. The lovers walked out of the building together, but Manfred explained to Gad that he was unable to leave his family and returned to the detention centre. He was deported, and later died at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

By 1943 most of Berlin’s Jews had been deported, and Gad and other Mischlinge were at risk. Gad was arrested and held at Rosenstrasse (a Jewish community centre occupied by Nazi police) for several days, but escaped deportation thanks to protests by some of the wives and family members of the men held there.

Gad stepped up his resistance activities and took a leading role in Chug Chaluzi, a Jewish resistance group. Between 1943 and 1945, the group supported an estimated 50 Jews in hiding. Gad arranged safe houses, delivered money, and assisted Jews in attempts to escape from Nazi Germany.

Gad was betrayed and in March 1945 he was arrested by the SS – a paramilitary group that became one of the most powerful and feared in Nazi Germany. Gad was liberated from prison by the Red Army on 24 April 1945. His parents and twin sister had also survived the war in Berlin.


This activity was about helping your community by creating opportunities to make a change and feeling more connected to other people. What is the end goal that you want to achieve? Think about who will benefit from your plan – raising awareness and sharing knowledge helps everyone.

This activity also reminded everyone that they’re a citizen. Refugees and displaced people aren’t always able to share their stories or the facts about their situation, so it’s really important that people who can speak out use their voices to share the truth. Do you think people have a responsibility to share the truth when lots of people are confused or misinformed?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts

See if you can arrange to meet with refugees or people who have been affected by conflict to hear about their experiences. You may find that local charities are happy to help. Make sure everyone thinks about how to include people: to be respectful and to make sure everyone has the chance to learn from their experiences

The topics and stories shared in this session may affect people personally. Provide a quiet and safe space that participants are welcome to go to if they need to at any point. Make sure participants are aware of the topics being discussed before the start of the session.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Supporting refugees and displaced children is one of the six themes to take action on as part of A Million Hands.

People worldwide will be observing Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January and thinking about how they can take action. Consider emailing the details of your actions to, or adding your activity to the HMDT map at HMD's website.