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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

Support for volunteers

Resources to support young people and address when talking about international crises.

Resources to talk to young people about war, conflict, peace and welcoming refugees

These resources have been provided by British Red Cross and Save The Children.

Using Scout values to discuss global issues and conflict

Our guide and activities for discussing global issues and conflict with young people.

Building Bridges, a guide for dialogue ambassadors

A dialogue guide created by World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID). 

Talking about climate change and the climate crisis

Discover how to talk to children about the Climate Crisis with Save The Children

Advice on talking about conflict with young people

Learn about how to talk about conflict impartiality, supported by the British Red Cross.

Advice for supporting refugees in your group

Take a look at advice for supporting refugees in your group, with guidance from British Red Cross.

Sessions to explore and support mental wellbeing

Find out about how to run some wellbeing sessions with British Red Cross.

A Cub in a green jumper and necker looks at the camera while making a heart shape with their hands.

Helping others through Scouts, including donations 

People often collect donations of essential items, such as clothes, food and bedding, and send them to the affected area.

However, collecting supplies, such as blankets, requires individuals and organisations to clean and sort through lots of items. They then need to transport them hundreds of miles, which can be very costly. 

There are other ways you can help that are more cost-effective, sustainable and often more helpful.

If you do want to donate some items to local community groups, it’s advised that you check with them first if they're still accepting donations.

If they are, find out which items are most needed.

If you’re raising money as part of your weekly programme, don't forget to have a look at the Scouts Fundraising and Explorers Fundraising Activity Badges.

One of the best ways you can help people experiencing crises is by donating money to a trustworthy organisation, such as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC bring together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently at times of crisis oversees.

They'll distribute your donation locally in the most effective way to the people who need it. 

If you've the means to donate money, or fundraise within your community, this by far the quickest, safest and most direct way to help people.


Tips on supporting everyone in your group, including refugees and asylum seekers

As a group, you could work together to plan how you can make new starters in your group feel welcome. You should think about how you can spread the word that everyone is welcome at Scouts, and if there is anything you can do to remove any real or perceived barriers. 

People from different countries may not be aware of Scouts. You could hold an open day to reach out to people and help them to understand more about what we do. 

Remember to signpost people to another local group if you’re full.

You might want to use our ‘Welcome new arrivals’ activity to look at how to make your group as welcoming as it can be for refugees and displaced children.

You could also start by exploring various aspects of identity and how we all have lots in common with our ‘Someone like me’ activity.

It may be a suitable time to explore the global elements of the programme, such as the International activity badges and Community Impact Staged Badge.

As stated in POR rule 3.1, anyone living in the United Kingdom and its Crown Dependencies (including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar) who are prepared to follow The Scout Association's principles by making the Promise may become members the Scout movement (subject to the eligibility Rules contained within Policy, Organisation and Rules).

Asylum seekers and refugees are allowed to volunteer in the UK. Take a look at our guidance on supporting asylum seekers and refugees to volunteer with us.

If a young person's coming from a country going through a conflict or emergency and wanting to join your group, depending on your group’s section numbers, ratios and capacity of your meeting place, it's a local decision whether they can join straight away or if they're added onto your group’s waiting list.

You could set up a donation system for spare uniform to give to new starters.

Scouts HQ doesn’t currently have any grants or funds available to subsidise memberships for refugees or displaced people.  

Decisions to waive or fund subscription fees are made at a local level, so contact your District Commissioner if you've any young people that need additional support. 

It’s important to recognise that asylum seekers often have a low income due to their circumstances (which might include not being permitted to work), therefore you should also be aware of financial limitations. With that in mind, you can proactively explore ways to reduce volunteering costs, such as waiving membership fees and offering expenses. 

At Scouts, we welcome people from all backgrounds to join us, as each individual can often bring with them their own unique skill sets that everyone at Scouts can benefit from. 

Discover more about supporting asylum seekers and refugees to volunteer with us.

Before the first meeting, you should start by having a sensitive chat with the young person and who they live with, or with the new adult volunteers. You might want to find out a little about them, as well as find out about how you can help them settle in. For example, you could find out if they’ve been involved with Scouts outside the UK.

The person, or the people who they live with, will be a valuable source of information about the young person's needs. They’ll be able to share anything that’s worked well at school or home to help them settle in.

As a group, you could learn some keywords and phrases from the new starters’ first language, if different to your own, and then you can use these to communicate with the whole group.

It’s important to remember that some young people and adults coming from countries in conflict may have experienced bereavement. 

You can look at our guidance on supporting life issues and young people, which includes guidance around both bereavement and mental health.

When making conversation, it might be OK to speak to someone about their home country and what they find different in the UK, but they might not want to talk about the reasons why they fled. This might be a personal and painful experience they might not want to share.  

Remember, that for many people arriving in the UK, English or Welsh might not be their first language. Many may not know any English or Welsh at all when they first arrive.

It’s important to remain inclusive with the different languages that may be spoken in your meetings. This may require you to learn words and phrases from another language You may also need to offer translated print-outs, forms or key safety information in different languages. You may also need to have an interpreter attend sessions and events.

You should think about how you give instructions, and remember to think about any language barriers to make sure that everyone understands how to stay safe when you’re risk assessing your activities.

You could choose to use a visual timetable or have visual cards available to help the young person interact with, participate in and understand the meeting. You may also want to translate some of your resources into their first language.

As a group, you could learn some keywords and phrases from the new starters’ first language, if different to your own, and teach these to other volunteers and young people, as well as use them to communicate with the group as a whole. 

We've put together some instructions on how to use the built-in translation tools for the most major internet browsers. We’ve also created downloads for some popular translation apps. Take a look at our translation guidance.

To avoid miscommunications, try to be as clear as possible about everything, and explain things in detail. Remember that something that might be obvious to you, might not be obvious to someone coming from another cultural background.

Be mindful that using acronyms might be a barrier for people who have English as their second language or are unfamiliar with Scouts. 

Say what you actually mean and avoid sarcasm or sayings. Again, sayings or sarcasm might be a barrier for people who have English as their second language. 

Try not to make assumptions about what an asylum seeker or refugee will think, understand, or know about any given situation. What we think we know may be based on inaccurate, cultural stereotyping and may cause barriers for them feeling accepted and welcome into Scouts. 

You may need to write additional considerations into your risk assessments to make sure instructions are accessible and clear. You may need to translate instructions through a programme, such as Google Translate, to minimise miscommunication and risk. 

Before the person starts, you should share what you’ve got coming up in your programme.

You could try to find out if there’s anything that might cause them distress after what they may have experienced, such as war or evacuation.

You should think about if there are any activities you need to tweak or hold off on for a while.

People might find certain activities difficult, such as loud noises, fire alarms, campfires or hiding games.

People may also find certain days of the year difficult too, such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.

You could plan in some activities that are really visual and easy-to-follow. You could try out easy or simpler games from our activity finder, too.

Think of easy-to-understand ways to explain what usually happens when the group meets. You may want to have visual aids or cards. 

Think about how you’ll help people understand how to do an activity or the rules of a game. You might also choose to demonstrate activities, giving people a chance to learn by watching others, or ask people to work in pairs to support each other.

Remember to think about any language barriers to make sure that everyone understands how to stay safe. This should be included when you’re risk assessing your activities.

Remember to be realistic with the activities you run. Your programme should be fun, challenging and engaging for young people. Remember that this can look different for different people.  

If the young person has been involved in Scouts outside the UK, you could think about planning in some traditional Scout activities that they’re likely to be familiar with.

You could ask if there are any familiar games or activities they’d like to do or that they might know, such as from school. If you don’t get chance to chat about this, you could always do a bit of research yourself into activities and games from their home country.

People could ‘Share their favourite game’. This might give the new arrival opportunity to share and take part in a familiar game, or you could also find some games that are played in different countries too.  

Why not plan a campfire and include some nonsense-word repeat-after-me campfire songs, that everyone can get involved with? Remember, you can create a fire-free indoor campfire with fairy lights. 

If everyone is comfortable, you could explore the similarities and differences between Scouts in the UK and Scouts in the person’s home country. You might want to find out what they wear, their names for different groups and what their Scout Promise is.

You could start with you could Create origami Scout uniforms, exploring uniforms in different countries. You can also explore how we’re a global family in Scouting, with ‘World membership art attack’.

If they feel comfortable, let the young person or adult introduce themselves in their own words when they join your group.

If they’d prefer, ask how they’d like you to introduce them.

If the young person or adult was in Scouts before in their home country, you might want to see if they’d like to tell people about it or find out more about what they did there. It’s important to make sure people only share if they’re happy and comfortable to, so follow their lead.

They may not want to share their experiences at all or take part in activities that remind them of home and that’s OK.

They might also love the chance to teach others their favourite game or all about their home country.

You might want to think about a buddy system for young people to offer a bit of extra support, especially if there’s someone who goes to the same school. 

You could also ask if they want someone who they live with to stay for their first few meetings.

Make sure to encourage teamwork and co-operation to make sure everyone is involved with icebreaker and team building activities.

You could also plan activities and games to help people find common ground and shared interests.

For adult volunteers, you may wish to invite other volunteers to your session to meet them or introduce them to other volunteers in the area to help show them their Scouts local community.

Make sure to keep checking in with the individual to make sure that they’re happy and comfortable. For young people, you could talk to the person they live with about how they’re getting on and they’re finding or reacting to different activities too.

Scouts is a worldwide movement. If you've members who have experienced Scouts in other countries, this may be a good opportunity to explore differences and similarities.

If they're happy and comfortable to, you could talk about how they run their meetings, their promise, games that they play, uniforms and badges, and anything else you might want to explore.

Discover our partners

Working with Save The Children UK

Scouts have worked with Save the Children UK on activities about supporting refugees and displaced children.

Visit Save The Children UK

Take a look at our activities with Save The Children

Go to activities

Working with British Red Cross

The Scouts has also been working with the British Red Cross to create activities all about kindness. 

Visit British Red Cross

Take a look at our activities with British Red Cross

Go to activities

Advice and support

Bereavement support

Take a look at our guidance to support those in your group who may be experiencing a bereavement or grief.

Bereavement support

Supporting asylum seekers and refugees to volunteer in Scouts

Take a look at the guidance

Read our statements