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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
Blog | 04 April 2023

Continuing our journey to the future

Craig Turpie, Deputy UK Chief Commissioner (Transformation)

We’re continuing on our journey to prepare more young people with skills for life, supported by amazing volunteer, delivering an inspiring programme. Our aims continue to be to grow, to become more inclusive, to be shaped by young people and to make a bigger impact in our communities.

Three Squirrels in red jumpers smile while putting their arms around each other in a circle.

Early years

Our focus on early years is still very much a key feature for us in our Skills for Life strategy, and one which we’ve been able to make good progress on. The Squirrels section continues to go from strength to strength, as it grows and offers more opportunities to 4 and 5 year olds across some of the most underrepresented areas of the UK.   

Over the past couple of months, we’ve opened up Nights Away opportunities to our newest section. Nights Away events are an important part of our programme and badge work, offering new experiences to our members.

The process for hosting a Nights Away event with Squirrels is the same as for any other Section. However, we’ve created new guidance to help support Squirrels Section Leaders, as it’s likely to be the first time these young people have been away from home or stayed away without parents, carers or wider family present.

We’ve also created a new grant to help Districts recruit and train Nights Away Advisors and Nights Away Permit Holders, which will help get these opportunities off the ground.

Elsewhere, we’re continuing to pilot the Partner-led and Family-led model of delivery for Squirrels. We're making sure we're partnering with early years experts, to understand what’s working and what isn’t for local Scouts, and changing our approach as we go.  

14 to 24 Programme  

Work continues as we look into what we offer young people and young adults aged 14 to 24.  It’s been 20 years since we implemented Explorer Scouts and Scout Network, so it’s going to take some time to get it right. 

Since we last updated you, we’ve created a roadmap for this project.

We’re currently in the discovery phase, which will last until August 2023.

As part of this phase we’re creating a community of interest group. It’s open to any volunteers who want to have their say as this work progresses - so you're welcome to sign ups and join in.

We’re also aware that amazing practice already exists locally and we’re keen to hear what you get up to currently. We’ll be creating opportunities to feed this back to us very soon. We’re busy creating some ready-made workshops for you to run locally with young people and volunteers to ask what Scouts should help teenagers achieve in the future.

Inclusive Growth 

As we look to continue to grow Scouts, inclusivity is an important principle which will underpin it all. We want more young people to gain skills for life, and to do that we want to grow both our adult volunteer and Explorer Scout Young Leader numbers.  

We’ve just completed our annual Census for 2023, which will form an important part of how we support you to grow locally. By 2026, we want to grow a more inclusive movement. This means not just targeting our efforts in those areas where we know Scouts is popular, but instead looking to the areas where there is no Scouts provision at all.

As part of Census 2023, we asked you to provide diversity data for your area. We’re sharing this data along with the membership figures for each County/Area/Region with County/Area/Region Commissioners to help them develop their inclusive growth plans.

They’ve been encouraged to compare the makeup of their membership with the demographics of their local areas to see if they reflect the community and spot any areas for development.

We’re also going to focus on opening provision in under-represented areas and recruit volunteers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, as well as providing you with more resources to help you grow locally.  

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

We know that Scouts doesn’t reflect the UK population for some members from Black, Asian and minority backgrounds, and that negative experiences have led them to feel Scouts isn't a place for them.

We’re conducting in-depth research into how we can make Scouts more welcoming to all, including how we engage with different communities and build more diverse senior leadership teams.

For now, we’re developing ways to support Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to join, stay and thrive in Scouts.

We’ve launched our vision for equity, diversity and inclusion and we’ve hosted online research sessions asking how we can engage under-represented communities, which has provided us with lots of valuable insight.

Youth Membership Management 

You’ll know that in addition to adult membership management, we’re looking at solutions to help us manage youth membership too.

We’re working with an external consultancy to help us research what our needs are. We’ve also been talking to other youth organisations in the UK and abroad to understand what tools they use. 

Over the past couple of months, we’ve also been talking to volunteers, parents and carers, and young people across the UK. We’ll be bringing all this research together to create our plan and roadmap for moving forward on youth membership management. 

Volunteer Experience – a reminder of our focus

We’ve talked a few times to you about the plans to fundamentally improve the volunteer experience over the next few years.

We want to make sure our volunteers feel valued for everything they do and most of all, we want them to enjoy their experience at the Scouts.

We know we need to recruit and retain more volunteers if we want to keep growing and provide more young people with skills for life.

However, there needs to be more support in place to make sure there’s a great local welcome, with a smooth, integrated learning experience and good ongoing support.   

As a reminder the first phase of changes will include: 

  • How we volunteer – looking at our volunteer roles and culture. 
  • How we make sure we provide a warmer welcome for everyone who wants to volunteer with us.  
  • A more engaging learning experience. 
  • More support to help get everyday things done more efficiently and make them more enjoyable.  

This means we’ll see changes such as: 

  • All volunteering roles will change – this may range from a title change, to some roles not existing and everything in between.  
  • The way in which we welcome new volunteers into Scouts will change –changing the current appointment process. 
  • We’ll move from training to learning so all learning will change – the structure and methods of how we do training – will change. 
  • And all of this will be enabled by providing you with easy-to-use digital tools. This means we will move on from Compass, with new solutions for managing adult membership. 

Where are we at?  

We’ve been working hard in the background preparing and planning.

County/Area/Region teams have been busy with their volunteer Transformation Leads, understanding the changes that will be coming in 2023 and 2024. They've been planning how they’ll conduct conversations locally to share more information at the right time and right pace for your particular area. Some of you may have already heard about changes in your area, and if not yet, we know you will in the coming months.  

We’re also working closely with 10 Counties/Areas/Regions on the changes to the volunteer experience. This group of 10 is our Early Adopter Cohort. They’ll put in place new ways of working first, allowing us to learn and test as we go, before changes are rolled out for all members.  

We’re moving at pace with some of the more cultural, softer changes that are less dependent on some of the new and exciting digital tools that are in development at the moment.

And finally, we’ll continue preparing Compass data for transition to the new adult membership system.  .  

In 2023, please keep doing what you’re doing so brilliantly.

  • You may find yourself invited to local meetings by your Transformation Lead and County/District team to learn more about the changes that are coming and what they mean for you and your team.  
  • You should start to receive information locally about how the changes will be introduced and implemented in your local area.  
  • Please engage with this information and attend discussions and meetings when invited to help your understanding of what the future looks like for your role in your local area and how we believe all of this change will set us up for a future where even more young people can develop skills for life. 
  • There's no need for anyone to do anything until you hear from your local teams. You may see neighbouring Counties/Area/Regions planning and doing different things, but everyone will be progressing with this at a slightly different pace and may be planning or phasing things differently. 

We’re all incredibly excited to introduce these changes to the volunteer experience which'll make your volunteering more enjoyable and more efficient. We know lots of you are eager to get started as soon as possible, too.

Together, we’re confident that we will achieve our vision and that more young people and more adult volunteers, will benefit from all that Scouting offers. 

As always, thank you for your support and patience, and everything you do,   

Craig Turpie
Deputy UK Chief Commissioner (Transformation)

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