Why saying ‘thank you’ is more important now than ever
With Volunteers’ Week just around the corner (1–7 June), our UK Commissioner for People, Amir Cheema, talks about why now’s a great time to think differently about how we recognise those in Scouts who are going above and beyond
The world has changed. But one thing’s stayed the same – the outstanding generosity of our volunteers. You’ve proved time and again just how dedicated you are, even in these toughest of times. Seeing the countless stories of our volunteers going the extra mile appearing across social media inspires me every day.
You’ll remember that the first week of June is Volunteers’ Week. It’s a time when we traditionally say thank you to the 160,000 adults who make Scouts possible. This year, it’s going to feel a little different. It’s not a time to celebrate, and it’s probably not the right moment for cake and balloons. But it definitely is a moment for us to recognise the incredible efforts and positive impact our volunteers are making on the lives of young people.
Why recognition matters
It’s not easy to keep twenty Cub Scouts engaged and entertained on a Zoom call. It’s not something any of us were trained for and so many of us are simply doing the best we can. But that’s totally in the spirit of Scouts. In my experience, having a go at something with enough enthusiasm and kindness usually means it’ll succeed in the end. That kind of response deserves a really meaningful thank you.
I’m sure many of you saw the BBC One Show special on Sue Flynn, a Beaver Scout Leader who’s worked for the NHS for 40 years and volunteered for Scouts even longer than that. She’s been juggling her responsibilities as a key worker, while still delivering meetings to young people online. Truly inspirational – but I know Sue is just one of many going the extra mile.
In Scouts, we never take our volunteers’ generosity for granted. That’s why it’s so important we think about how we can reward and recognise our volunteers. Because we can’t meet face to face, this requires a bit more thought than usual. Here are some ideas for you to think about:
- Commissioners’ Commendation Award
If you’re a District Commissioner or County Commissioner, then it’s in your ability to give one of these special awards. These are for a volunteer in your area who’s truly shone. You don’t need to wait for any special time of the year and there’s no limit on the number you can give out. Log in to the brand centre, search for ‘commendation’, then follow the on screen instructions. You’ll be able to personalise the certificate and create a PDF to send on.
- Certificates for all
We have two other special certificates that can be personalised by any volunteer: the ‘General Certificate’ and the ‘Bear Grylls Certificate.’ Both of these are available on the brand centre for you to adapt and send to a fellow volunteer. Don’t forget to tell them why they deserve it!
- A public thank you
At the start of Volunteers’ Week, we’ll be sharing a special thank you post on our social media channels. Why not share this with your own friends, tagging in and thanking those volunteers you feel deserve a special shout out? Is there a way to join an online meeting and thank a volunteer with all the young people on the call too? Think carefully about what would work for the person you have in mind.
Right now especially, local media is on the lookout for good news stories. Why not contact a journalist and explain why a volunteer (or team of volunteers) have made such a positive impact on the local community?
- A private thank you
Just as special can be a personal note to a volunteer, not just saying thank you, but explaining the difference they’ve made. For example, if you know a volunteer who’s been running virtual meetings, you might want to mention how this has provided such valuable continuity, connection and support for young people whose education has been disrupted. This could be in the form of a written note or video call.
- Some time out
If you know a volunteer who’s been going flat-out to keep Scouts running, is there a way to give them a break? Do you know someone who could step in and run a meeting one week (or join your weekly session with another group) to give them a well-deserved rest? We all love Scouts, but we like our free time too.
- Send something in the post
Another way to thank someone could be by ordering a meal online (pizza’s always a winner) and getting it delivered to their home – or another small token of thanks. We all love presents, don’t we?
- Organise a volunteer and parent/carer-only social online
Consider running an online thank you session for your volunteers and parents. Invite some friends and families along to recognise our volunteers’ contribution.
Time to start planning
I’m sure you’ll have more great ideas, but the important thing is that we all do something. Let’s respect the rules around social distancing and keep each safe while still doing something meaningful.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s life circumstances are different, and volunteers are able to give differently at different times and in different ways. That’s OK. It’s also OK to continue to be safe and look after yourself, your loved ones and work, before even thinking about Scouts and volunteering.
When we look back on all this, I know we’ll be so proud of the way you’ve lived your Scout values and supported our young people. So, I’d just like to finish with a thank you from me. We’re so lucky to have you.