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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

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Timeline for change

Get creative, get moving, and create a timeline of black British history.

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You’ll need

  • Big pieces of paper
  • Coloured pens or pencils
  • Sticky tack
  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
Black British history: events and people
PDF – 146.9KB

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here.  Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Decide whether you’ll include all of the timeline events. Write the dates of the events you’re including on pieces of paper and stick them on the wall of your meeting place. If you’re meeting outside, get creative – you could ask people to hold the sheets of paper up or pop them on the floor and weigh them down with pebbles.
  • Print (or write out) the ‘Black British history: events and people’ sheets. You’ll need at least the title of each event, but a bit of information is helpful too. It’s up to you whether you include it all or pick out some key points – it’ll probably depend on your group.
  • Print (or trace) a world map and colour key countries in different colours. It’s probably useful to include at least Britain, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Nigeria and Somalia.

If you’re doing this activity as part of Black History Month, make sure everyone understands that black history is a part of history that people can (and should) learn about all year round. 

This activity has been chosen as it celebrates Black history.

Black History Month encourages people to think about the contributions, achievements and history of black people, originating in the United States. In the UK, we celebrate Black History Month in October. It’s a time to highlight the achievements and people of the Black community, and celebrate their contributions to the UK.

Put it on the map

  1. The person leading the activity should show everyone the map with some countries coloured in.
  2. Everyone should get seven different coloured items (for example, pens or pencils) that match the colours of the countries on the map.
  3. The person leading the activity should name one of the countries. Everyone should hold up the colour they think that country is. The person leading the activity should reveal where the country is.
  4. Everyone should keep going until they know a bit more about where to find each country.


Timeline time

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that black people have lived in Britain for hundreds of years. There’s a lot of black British history. This activity focuses on things that happened in Britain from 1948 to today.
  1. Everyone should get into small groups and sit down. Each group should choose one person to represent them near the timeline.
  1. The person leading the activity should stand in front of the timeline, so they can add the events.
  2. The representatives from each team should line up in front of the person leading the game. 
  3. The person leading the activity should read out the title of an event and explain what happened.
  4. Each team should work together to direct their representative to stand in line with where they think the event belongs on the timeline. Once everyone’s finished moving, the person leading the activity should reveal the answer and stick the event on the timeline.
  5. Everyone should keep playing until they have all of the events in the right order. Did anything surprise anyone?

Put a face to the name

  1. The person leading the activity should explain that all of the events on the timeline involved real people.
  2. The person leading the activity should help everyone choose a black person who made a difference to culture or British history.
  1. Everyone should find out more about the person they chose.
  1. Everyone should decide how they’ll tell other people about their person. They may want to draw a picture of the person (or some of their achievements), write down some key facts, or find a helpful video online.

Add to the timeline

  1. Everyone should take it in turns to share the person they chose and what they found out. What did they achieve? Why were they important in history of culture?
  2. Once everyone’s told their friends about their person, they should put them on the timeline.

Bring it all together

  1. The person leading the activity should remind everyone that the Scout values are integrity, respect, care, belief, and cooperation.
  1. Everyone should think about the person they chose. They may not have been a Scout, but everyone should think about how the people showed some of the Scout values.
  1. People should take it in turns to share their ideas.
  2. The person leading the activity should explain that racism is still a big problem today. Everyone should chat about some examples they may have seen in the media or learned about at school.
  1. Everyone should think about how their Scout values can guide them as they try to be anti-racist. How can they show respect for black people? When might they need to have integrity and stand up for what’s right?

You could also run this activity during an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.

You’ll need to think on your feet to make it work virtually, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • You should be able to play Put it on the map online – people could use scraps of paper or items of the same colour if they don’t have pens or pencils.
  • Show everyone how to make their own mini-timeline on a piece of paper or use a virtual tool like Adobe Spark to make an online timeline.
  • People could take it in turns to unmute themselves to talk about the person they found out about and to have a discussion at the end. You may want to tell people when to unmute so they don’t talk over each other.


This activity was all about being a citizen. Should all of the people who live in a country be equal? Can anyone think of an example of black people not having equal rights in Britain? Whose responsibility was it to change it? People may think about how it often takes more than one person to make a change. As local and national citizens, people have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right. How could people work together to make sure Britain becomes a fairer place for everyone?

This activity was also about respecting others. Why is it important to learn about black British history? People might think about how, even though it’s part of British history, it hasn’t always been spoken about. Learning about history can help people understand why things are the way they are today. Can anyone remember any black people who made a big difference to culture? People could think about Claudia Jones starting Carnival, Skepta and his music, or athletes like Mo Farah. What about to history? People could think about civil rights activists like Paul Stephenson or Darcus Howe or politicians like Diane Abbott. Why is it important that people learn about them?


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.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe. Take a look at our online safety or bullying guidance. The NSPCC offers more advice and guidance, too. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection CommandAs always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare, including their online experiences, follow the Yellow Card to make a report.

  • If competition keeps people engaged, you could award points to the team who guessed closest in Timeline time.
  • It’s up to you how many events you put on the timeline and how much detail you give people. Adapt it so it works for your group – you know them best.

It doesn’t matter how people want to tell others about the person they chose – they don’t have to write or draw if they’d prefer to communicate in another way.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

How could you use your timeline to help others learn? Maybe you could display it in your meeting place or put photos online. 

People could keep adding to the timeline as they learn new things and find out about other important black people.