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Blog | 05 October 2021

Inspiring our young people; supporting our volunteers

By Carl Hankinson, UK Chief Commissioner
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‘I owe Scouts so much and it’s time to pay back.’

These are the words of one Scout I had the privilege to support, who’s now about to become a volunteer himself.


It’s an attitude that doesn’t surprise me. Back then when I invested this young man into Venture Scouts at the peak of Pic Coolidge in the Dauphine Alps, all of us knew he would go on to great things. We’re short of people with his specialist skills and by offering flexible volunteering, he’s able to help us.

Pride and good humour

My own experience in Scouts has been shaped so much by my time leading Venture Scouts, Explorer Scouts and Scout Network. The pride when congratulating Queen’s Scouts, the memories made on overseas expeditions, as well as the humour, team spirit and sense of belonging at our weekly activities, gave all of us so much as leaders. It certainly tested our leadership skills as well!

A new start and a new name

This is why one of my first steps as UK Chief Commissioner was to rename our national volunteer team to the UK Leadership Team. Words matter, and in Scouts words set an example to others. Any large organisation needs management plans and actions. Sometimes, and often behind the scenes, some of what we deal with is challenging. These situations must be managed well.

Leading as well as managing

But more generally, our movement succeeds because of great people. And people need to be led well, encouraged, see an exciting future ahead, and most of all, feel valued. A team that works hard together, makes a difference and still has fun is what we should aim for. I’d encourage everyone to spend more time leading and supporting others, rather than simply managing them. The bulk of our own first meeting as UK Leadership Team, was spent thinking about how we can do just this.

Listening and supporting  

To support our teams, I’m keen to get out and about as much as possible. By mid-January I hope to have visited Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and all eight English Regions, to meet our excellent County/Area/Region Commissioners and hear what issues they’re facing. I’ll be listening carefully to how help and what needs improving.

We succeed by listening, learning, working together and helping each other. I was lucky that my visit to Northern Ireland allowed us to say a heartfelt thank you to the wonderful leadership of the Northern Ireland Squirrels Association. Along with Matt Hyde, it was a privilege to present our first Chief Scout Acorn Award. I can’t hide my excitement for Squirrels, and look forward to seeing our own 4 year old joining a local Drey.

Helping young people reconnect

We’ve been tested for sure over the past eighteen months.  All of us have done incredibly well to come through this period despite all of the challenges we’ve faced. Together, we now need to help others restart their sections. In particular, we need to help young people reconnect with their groups and each other, gain those skills for life and really flourish. . Like all volunteers, they’ve missed so much but their enthusiasm is what keeps us all going. It reinvigorates us; reminds us why we volunteer and what a difference we make.

Thank you

So, thank you to all of you for getting us through these past months. What you do is so meaningful, and makes such a difference. But please remember to have fun too. Help each other and make plans for an exciting future. I know I speak for the whole UK Leadership Team when I say we promise to do our best to help.

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