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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

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Appointments Panels and Welcome Conversations

Everything you need to deliver a welcoming and effective meeting with a new volunteer

This page refers to information relevant for both Early Adopter County members and all All Other Counties. If you’re not sure which information is relevant to your County, ask your Transformation Lead or visit the Volunteer Experience page.

Find out which group my County is in

Appointments Panels and Welcome Conversations

We want to give a great first impression to new volunteers. This page has guidance for the meeting that takes place when a new volunteer joins us, to make sure they understand: 

  • our values and policies, and 
  • what the tasks they’ll do will involve and if joining is right for them 

Keeping young people safe is our top priority. By following the guidance, we can make sure every volunteer is given a warm welcome and we keep our young people safe.

From 1 June 2024, Early Adopter Districts and Counties can start using the Welcome Conversation as described in POR and the Early Adopter County guidance below. By 1 September 2024, all Early Adopter Counties and Districts must switch to the Welcome Conversation. 

Those in Counties and Districts yet to adopt Welcome Conversations must continue delivering Appointments Panels as outlined in POR and agreed locally. If you're unsure which applies to you, please ask your District Lead Volunteer, District Commissioner, or County Transformation Lead. 

Purpose

  • Give a great first impression so new volunteers feel welcome, valued and supported.
  • Make sure they understand how we keep young people safe.
  • Make sure new volunteers are clear on our expectations of them.
  • Talk about tasks and responsibilities.
  • Make sure they understand and commit to our values.
  • Find out more about why they want to volunteer and what their skills and interests are.
  • Answer any questions they have and identify where we can offer more help.
  • Welcome the new volunteer to Scouts.
  • Make sure new volunteers are aware of, and accept the values, policies and promise of the Scouts.
  • Support volunteers to understand the requirements of their role.
  • Check the new volunteer knows where to go for support and who to ask if they need some help.

Organising the location

Contact the new volunteer using their preferred method (phone call or email) and agree a time and place that’s good for them. This could be a Scouts meeting place, a coffee shop, or even over a video call such as using Zoom or Teams.

  • It is really important to put yourselves in the shoes of the new volunteer and consider, where they are likely to feel the most comfortable; after all we are welcoming them into our organisation and first impressions count!  
  • The meeting could be held online or in person, at the place where the volunteer will be volunteering. 
  • If the meeting will be in person, things to consider about the venue are; whether it is inclusive for people with religious/cultural requirements, if it feels safe (particularly if people are leaving alone, after dark) and how accessible it is by public transport and for those with a disability.

Who should be involved

The Welcome Conversation is made up of:   

  • The new volunteer
  • The person responsible for recruiting the volunteer
  • A volunteer with the Welcome Conversation Volunteer accreditation who is independent (not from the same Group or team as the new volunteer) 

 An accompanying adult can also attend, if the new volunteer would like additional support (for example for help with understanding, additional needs or anxiety).

Interim information about the person responsible for recruiting the volunteer:  

  • They’ll usually be the new volunteer’s line manager.  
    For example, in a Group, this would be the Group Lead Volunteer / Group Scout Leader; for a Section Team in a District, this would be the District Explorer Scout Commissioner. They should already have met the new volunteer as part of their recruitment.
  • They must have completed their Welcome Conversation learning and have this recorded on their (line manager) PLP on Compass.
  • If someone other than the new volunteer’s line manager is responsible for the recruitment, they can do the Welcome Conversation in their place as long as they have been given this task by their line manager, they have completed their Welcome Conversation learning, and they have had this recorded on their PLP on Compass (for the role they’ll be carrying out the Welcome Conversation in).  

Interim information about the independent Welcome Conversation Volunteer:  

  • They need to hold a full, current appointment in an active role which requires a Welcome Conversation or Appointments Panel as part of the appointments process.
  • They need to be (or have been in the previous five years) in a similar role to the new volunteer. For example, if you’ve volunteered in a Beavers Section Team, you might take part in a Welcome Conversation for someone who’s coming into a role in a Beavers or Cubs Section.
  • They must not be from the same Group or team the new volunteer is joining.
  • Until the new digital system is live, they must be recorded on Compass as an Appointments Advisory Committee (AAC) Member to be an independent Welcome Conversation volunteers. This includes Group Lead Volunteers / Group Scout Leaders or Lead Volunteers / Commissioners if they are carrying out Welcome Conversations as the independent person (i.e. for another Group or team).
  • They must have completed their Welcome Conversation learning and have this recorded on their AAC Member PLP on Compass.

                     

  • Three members of the Appointments Advisory Committee should form an Appointments Panel, who will meet with the volunteer. 
  • There can be more than one appointments panel meeting, at the same time, in more than one location, including online.  
  • Appointments Panel members, should reflect the diversity of the local population, so that new volunteers can relate in some way, to at least, one person on the Appointments Panel; this will go a long way to helping them get the best welcome and experience.
  • Having someone aged 18-25 on the Appointments Panel and someone who is new to volunteering with Scouts would be beneficial.

Inviting the new volunteer

  • The volunteer needs to be added to Compass before attending the Welcome Conversation.
  • The volunteer does not need to have completed their training, received their criminal record check or had references completed, before they attend the Welcome Conversation.
  • The person responsible for recruiting the volunteer should reach out to the new volunteer using their preferred method of communication (phone call or email) to agree a time and place that’s good for them (see Location). They should make sure to:
    • Explain that this will be an informal conversation, and a chance for them to ask any questions
    • Let them know how volunteering can be flexible
    • Hold the conversation once the new volunteer is sure they’d like to take on the role  
  • The Welcome Conversation should be arranged with your currently locally agreed process. For instance, in some areas the Appointments Secretary would confirm meeting details with an invitation, in other areas it would be the new volunteer’s line manager. This needs to comply with POR.  When you share the meeting details with the new volunteer, you should also include the Welcome Conversation checklist, so they know what to expect.
  • The volunteer needs to be added to Compass before attending the Appointments Panel. 
  • The volunteer does not need to have completed their training, received their disclosure check or have references completed, before they attend the Appointments meeting. 
  • The Appointments Secretary will send an invitation to the volunteer.   
  • The invite should include the following documents in a print or digital format: 

Invitation template

Template invite to the Welcome Conversation

Dear <insert name of the new volunteer> 

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with <insert name of Group/District or County>. As part of our induction and welcome process, we would like to invite you to a Welcome Conversation.  

<Insert name of Line Manager> has arranged your Welcome Conversation for <insert time, duration, date and location>, and we’ve also invited <name of Welcome Conversation Volunteer>, who volunteers in another Group locally. If you’ve got any issues with the arrangements, please let <name of line manager> or me know as soon as possible. 

We have Welcome Conversations to welcome you to Scouts and make sure you’re prepared for your volunteering. Take a quick look at the Welcome Conversation Checklist attached, so you know what to expect.  

If you have any questions, do talk to <line manager’s name>,  

Thank you 

<insert signature> 

 

*NOTE: The Welcome Conversation Checklist referenced in the letter is the Text version below which reflects the interim Welcome Conversation process for Early Adopter Counties. 

 

Text version of the Welcome Conversation Checklist 

Thank you for taking this next step with us. We want you to have the best welcome possible. Within your first six weeks, you’ll have a chat with a Welcome Conversation Volunteer and your line manager. Here, you can chat about everything you need to feel confident in your new role.  

Tick off the following points together for an easy start to your new role. 

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interest in Scouts. Do you have any access needs we can support you with?
  2. Do you know what tasks you’ll be doing? Let us know which tasks you’ve signed up for and how you’ll plan these in.
  3. At Scouts, we want to help you grow. Chat through our learning and development opportunities.
  4. It’s everyone’s responsibility in Scouts to keep young people safe. Chat through the Scout values, promise, policies, Yellow Card and our Volunteering Culture.
  5. We want to make sure you can access your key membership information on Compass – can you login to Compass?
  6. Complete the rest of your Appointments Process. 

Top tips 

  • Please let us know what pronouns you use and if you have a preferred name? Do we have your correct details?
  • Volunteering is flexible, so chat to your Welcome Conversation Volunteer to see if there’s something else you’d like to try.
  • We’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions or just want to chat, reach out to your Welcome Conversation Volunteer, line manager or buddy (if you have one). Thank you for everything you’ve done so far and for having this conversation with us.  

Good luck on your volunteering journey!

Invitation template to Appointments meeting

Dear <insert name of volunteer>

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with <insert name of Group/District or County>. As part of our induction and welcome process, we would like to invite you to meet our Appointments Panel.

Your allocated time will be at <insert time, duration and date>.  Please confirm if this is convenient or let us know if you cannot attend ASAP so we can reallocate the time slot to another new volunteer.

Join Zoom Meeting

<insert link to join Zoom meeting>

Meeting ID: <insert meeting ID details>
Passcode: <insert passcode details>

The link should take you into a waiting room, please enter the passcode. You may need to wait to be admitted; this should not be long. If you have problems or can’t make it on the night then please <text or call> me on <insert contact details>.

Please try to join us two or three minutes before the time given. 

The meeting is a welcome to Scouting and we will be chatting to you about the following:

If you have not been given this information yet, you can use the links above. If you have any questions before the meeting about please get in touch with your line manager.

We look forward to meeting you

<insert signature>

 

Information for new volunteers about the Appointments Meeting

Who will I meet at the Appointment meeting?

You will meet with three people that volunteer as part of the District/County/Area/Region teams, who make up the Appointments Panel. 

How long is the Appointment meeting?

As a guide, it would be a good idea, to allow 30 minutes for the meeting.

What is the meeting about?

The meeting is an opportunity for Scouts to welcome and thank you for expressing an interest in volunteering with the organisation and to discuss with you, what your volunteering will involve.

The Scout Promise, the Scout values, our Safeguarding code of conduct (also known as the Yellow Card), and key policies which you will need to agree to follow, will be also be discussed.

There will be an opportunity for you to share what you are hoping to get out of your volunteering, for you to ask any questions and to check that you know where to access support. 

Do I need to prepare anything for the meeting?

It would be useful to take a look at the following information, 

Young People First (The Yellow Card)

The Values

The Key Policies

The Scout Promise

Don't worry, if you don't get chance, it will be discussed with you, during the meeting.   

Where will the appointment meeting be held?

The location of the meeting will be shared with you through your invitation email and will most likely take place, either online, or at the place where you usually volunteer or at another agreed location.

What happens after the meeting?

The volunteers on the Appointments Panel will explain to you, what the next steps are. They will provide you with guidance on the training you will need to complete and support you with completing your disclosure check (DBS, PVG, or AccessNI) if this has not already been done. 

They will also pass on their recommendation, about your appointment to the relevant commissioner and you and your line manager will be notified of the outcome.  

To complete the appointments process you need to have done the following:  

  • Disclosure Check 
  • References  
  • Commissioner Approval (follows the Appointment meeting) 
  • Getting Started (initial training) 

Before the conversation

Plan the conversation 

  • The new volunteer’s line manager or their delegate should make sure an independent volunteer who has completed the Welcome Conversation learning and has it recorded on Compass can attend the conversation.
  • Use the Welcome Conversation checklist to plan how you’ll deliver the conversation together, making sure it’s conversational and open, and that you’ve covered all key points.
  • The conversation shouldn’t last longer than 45 minutes, so plan how long you want to spend on each area to help structure it.
  • Share the Welcome Conversation checklist with the new volunteer beforehand so they know what to expect.

It is important to allow time for the Appointments Panel to meet beforehand to: 

Watch the modernising your approach to AAC meetings webinar from Reunion in 2020 to get some helpful tips.

During the conversation

Create a warm and open environment 

  • Check name pronunciation or ask for any other names the new volunteer might go by
  • Thank them for their time and interest in volunteering, while avoiding making any assumptions about them
  • Find out what they would like to get out of their time at Scouts and any other interests they may have
  • Remember, do all you can to put the new volunteer at ease, be positive and smile!

Discuss their team and joining journey 

  • Talk about their team and how their role fits into the structure of Scouts, you don’t have to go into too much detail just yet (Section, Group, District and County is enough for now)
  • Make sure they understand their responsibilities and the potential tasks they’ll be doing
  • Check they can sign in to Compass and can check their details
  • Explain the steps in the appointments process they've completed and any outstanding tasks they still need to do (the Line Manager can quickly see this on their membership record)  

Our values, policies, Promise and the importance of safeguarding 

  • Go over the importance of the Yellow Card (Safeguarding Code of Conduct for Adults), check the new volunteer has received a copy and agrees to follow it. Check the volunteer also knows how to report any safeguarding concerns directly to the HQ Safeguarding Team and share the link to our safeguarding policy
  • Confirm they've read and understand our Scouts values, policies, Promise and Our Volunteering Culture. They don’t need to remember everything, but they need to know where to find them and confirm they’re happy to accept them

Further support 

  • Explain their role will be supported through more learning and development
  • Confirm any access needs or how we can make their time at Scouts more inclusive
  • Check they know where to go if they’ve got a question or just need some help
  • Let them know they can update their personal information online at any time 

Use the Welcome Conversation Checklist to make sure you’re covering all key points

  • Be positive, smile, avoid assumptions and do everything you can, to help put the new volunteer at ease. The conversation should feel informal, welcoming and not like an interview. Take the lead from their responses and do not ask questions if you feel they have already been answered.  
  • The volunteer line manager may have agreed to adapt the role to allow for, opportunities for experience, gaining qualifications, greater flexibility to accommodate for work and family commitments, which may benefit both them and the Scouts. 
  • If you feel the new volunteer does not understand the requirements of their role and/or that additional training or support will be needed (beyond what is provided) this is not a reason to recommend that they are not appointed. Instead suggest that they speak with their volunteer line manager to discuss this further; you may need to remind them of who that person is and how to contact them. Flag this with the Appointments Secretary, when you make the recommendation, who will ask the volunteer line manager (GSL/DC/CC) to contact the new volunteer for a further discussion about the role.  
  • Training is something most volunteers want and expect, so talk about it positively.  
  • It is important you feel confident the new volunteer is aware of and accepts the Scout values and key policies and is willing to make the promise. This does not mean they need to be able to recall each of the policies, promise and values, but they need to know where to find them and confirm they are happy to accept them. Reassure them that these topics will be revisited during their online training.  
  • Inform the new volunteer, if there is anything that needs further discussion with the volunteer line manager. 
  • Remember to thank them for their time and everything they have done so far to get started as a Scouts volunteer.

Use the Appointments Meeting Conversation Guide to make sure you’ve covered all key points.

After the conversation

  • The new volunteer's line manager (or delegate) taking part in the Welcome Conversation needs to inform the Appointments Secretary of the outcome, including any additional training or support that might be needed.
  • If the outcome is to not appoint the volunteer, then further discussions might be needed between the Welcome Conversation Volunteer, new volunteer’s line manager (or delegate) and the approving Lead Volunteer / Commissioner.
  • If there is a disagreement between the Welcome Conversation Volunteer and line manager about the outcome of the Welcome Conversation, the decision should be deferred to your District Lead Volunteer / Commissioner.
  • Once agreed the Appointments Secretary will pass the recommendation and any other related information to the approving Lead Volunteer / Commissioner.
  • The Appointments Secretary should make sure the outcome is communicated to the new volunteer and to their line manager. Include information about any training or specific support that the new volunteer might need, which would not be covered by the standard training scheme or support provided.
  • Inform the Appointments Secretary of the Appointment Panel’s recommendation, including any additional training or support needs that may have been identified.
  • If the recommendation is to not appoint the volunteer, then further discussions might be needed between the Appointments Chair, members of the Appointments Panel and then the approving Commissioner.
  • Once agreed the Appointments Secretary will pass the recommendation and any other related information to the approving Commissioner.
  • Make sure the outcome is communicated to the new volunteer and to the volunteer line manager. Include information about any training or specific support that the new volunteer might need, which would not be covered by the standard training scheme or support provided.

Appointment Advisory Committees

Ahead of the new digital system going live and the full adoption of the new volunteer joining journey, Appointments Advisory Committee (AAC) Members, Appointments Chairs and Appointments Secretaries still have a key role to play appointing and welcoming volunteers into Scouts.  

From 1 June, Districts in Early Adopter Counties will be adopting the Welcome Conversation instead of the Appointments Panel Meeting, and all will have adopted it by 1 September. Most other elements of the Appointments process will remain the same. For example, the Welcome Conversation should be arranged with your current locally agreed process compliant with POR. For example, in some areas, the new joiner's line manager will continue to confirm meeting details. In addition, the Appointments Secretary will need to record the outcome of the Welcome Conversation and make sure it’s appropriately communicated.

Check the guidance for adding Welcome Conversation Learning to Compass.

The Appointments Advisory Committee’s main function is to assist with the process of appointing and welcoming volunteers into Scouts by advising on their suitability.

It's important to remember that the committee is not a ‘rubber-stamping’ body. It must carry out its responsibilities with integrity and with the welfare of the movement and its members in mind. On the one hand, it has an important role in ensuring those who are unsuitable to work with young people or look after funds do not have access to either. On the other, it should not be a barrier to those who are genuinely interested in and suitable for taking on a role.

Ultimately, the Appointments Advisory Committee exists to support the relevant commissioner, who has overall responsibility for Scouts in their locality.

Find out more about Module 37, which is the course that volunteers, who are members of the Appointments Advisory Committee, will need to complete as part of their training. 

Responsibilities of the Appointments Advisory Committee

The AAC is responsible for the following:

  • Appointment Panels: welcoming new volunteers. This includes introducing their role, values, policies and promise; and making sure they know where to go for support and who to ask if they need some help.
  • Appointment Reviews: making sure the Appointment Review process is working well across the District or County.
  • Suspensions: supporting the Commissioner in dealing with the consequences of this process, specifically supporting and advising on whether to lift the suspension and reinstate the person.
  • Complaints: support the manager by considering the findings of an investigation, if necessary.
  • Cancellations: To support and advise the relevant Commissioner, if necessary. They also make sure cancellations and suspension are recorded on Compass correctly.

Members of the Appointments Advisory Committee 

  • Appointments Chair: The Appointments Chair leads the Appointments Advisory Committee, they must not be the Chair of the relevant Executive Committee.
  • Appointments Secretary: The Secretary ensures that the required administration is carried out for the Appointments Advisory Committee.
  • Appointments Members: Appointment Members are a pool of people that can join Appointment Panels when needed.

Appointing the Appointments Advisory Committee

The Appointments Advisory Committee is appointed by the Executive Committee. All AAC members must be over 18 years old and have successfully completed a Personal Enquiry. 

It is best practice to have a wide range of skills and attributes so bear this in mind when building the committee. As a youth shaped organisation we also want to make sure young people’s views are considered when making decisions. Appointments Advisory Committee's should have at least two young people between the age of 18 and 25 years old.

Sharing Appointments Advisory Committee

Appointments Advisory Committees can be shared across locations so long as each Executive Committee:

  • agrees and records the decision by resolution,
  • agrees the appointment of the Appointments Chair and the other members,
  • has an Appointments Secretary to carry out the role on their behalf (an individual may act as Appointments Secretary for more than one Executive Committee if agreed by all),
  • the Appointments Chair is not the Chair of any Executive Committee on whose behalf the Appointments Advisory Committee acts.

Districts and Counties/Areas/Regions (Scotland) may have more than one Appointments Advisory Committee so long as each one:

  • is appointed by the relevant Executive Committee
  • has a clearly defined responsibility for appointments (for example, by geographical area or type of appointment) which must be recorded by resolution of the relevant Executive Committee.

  

This page refers to both Early Adopter Counties and All Other Counties. If you're not sure which group your County is in, check out our Volunteer Experience webpage.

Welcome Conversation eLearning for Early Adopter Counties

From 1 June 2024, volunteers in Early Adopter Counties can complete their Welcome Conversations learning.

Discover eLearning for Early Adopter Counties