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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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Using Scout Values to discuss global issues and conflict

As Scouts, we’re guided by our values, which are:

  • Integrity: We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal.
  • Respect: We have self-respect and respect for others.
  • Care: We support others and take care of the world in which we live.
  • Belief: We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes.
  • Co-operation: We make a positive difference; we co-operate with others and make friends.
Leader and scouts have a discussion

Using our Scout values as a guiding principle is a good place to start when discussing global issues, such as conflict overseas, prejudice and global climate change. Young people in Scouts can be affected by global issues and overseas conflict directly or indirectly. They may have questions and views that can be explored using our values.

It’s important to remember that every young person has different experiences, cultural influences and sources of information. When discussing global issues, young people might surface views that are different to, or may not reflect, our own. 

However, having the opportunity to take part in dialogue about what’s happening in the world is important By doing so, we make sure everyone gets the chance to listen to different perspectives, hear other people’s opinions and see things from another point of view. This may then help young people to grow or develop their own views.

We believe that approaching dialogue about global issues in a neutral space, guided by our Scout Values, creates a space for young people to build communities. They’re able to develop friendships, learn to care for, trust and respect people from all backgrounds, and to become active citizens.

Guidance for volunteers:

To set up a collaborative and safe space for dialogue on global issues, we often need to put our own views aside. Staying neutral and impartial is difficult when we consider our personal values, experiences and cultures. However, creating a space for young people to develop their values and views often means that we need to put our experiences aside. You’ll need to avoid presenting your personal views as the main or only cause of, or solution, to a conflict. Bias can come across through things you say, but also in your facial expressions and gestures.

When discussing global issues, such as conflict, you shouldn’t seek to provide information or guide opinions. However, you’ll want to provide a space for young people to critically engage with their thoughts and feelings. You can challenge inaccurate information sources as a group, as this’ll help young people critically engage with news sources and social media. 

One way to prepare is by writing down your views before the session(s) or discussing your views with others. This’ll allow you to express your opinions, but without impacting the dialogue between young people.

It’s also important to remember that as Scouts is a charity, we can’t have a political affiliation.

This means when you’re representing Scouts, whether in uniform or speaking as a volunteer or representative, you can’t:

  • endorse political parties or candidates
  • take political positions on issues that aren’t in support of young people or the objectives of Scouts

We understand that this isn’t always clear, so take a look at our guidance on political campaigning for more information. You’re more than welcome to get in touch if you’ve any questions.

When discussing global issues, it’s important to allow young people to be heard and lead the discussions. This challenges young people to learn how to:

  • think for themselves
  • analyse information thoroughly
  • reflect on and justify their beliefs and decisions
  • consider the difficult decisions and complexities that take place in conflict. 

When discussing conflict, we want to support young people to come to their own conclusions and develop an understanding of personal biases, without influencing their views.

We can help do this by adopting a Youth Shaped approach, where young people set the agenda of the dialogue and an adult leader facilitates the conversation. This supports the UN’s first priority of their Youth 2030 plan, which is to ‘Amplify youth voices for the promotion of a peaceful, just and sustainable world’.

Although you’ll not be expected to provide information about conflict, it’s always useful to have a brief overview of what might be discussed. It’s important to use information from reputable news sources.

You may want to recommend the following for young people when learning about global issues:

  • avoid using social media to find out information about what’s happening
  • find sources that give you an unbiased view, such as the Associated Press, BBC, Reuters or Wall Street Journal.
  • use information from various news sources to gain a balanced view

You may also want to lead discussions on fake news and know how to identify accurate resources, making sure young people can form ideas and opinions based on facts.

Using our Scout values to help support discussions about conflict

We’ve gathered together some activities that you can use to explore both global issues and Scout Values.

They can be used with young people to build understanding, so can be delivered before or after a discussion on conflict with your group.

You may not want to cover each or all the activities with your group and you’re able to adapt any activity to suit the needs of your young people.

Integrity: We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal.

The Suitcase by Chris Naylor Ballesteros

When a weary animal arrives one day, with only a big suitcase, the other animals are curious. They have lots of questions, such as why he was there, where he came from and just what is in the suitcase. To learn the answers, they can either trust the newcomer or discover what they risk by not believing him.

But, when the animals break into the suitcase and discover a very special photograph, they begin to understand what the strange creature has been through. Together, they create a very special welcome present.

A powerful story about immigration, trust, hope, kindness, perception and new beginnings. It’s full of heart and humanity, for anyone who has ever felt unwelcome or out of place and, most importantly, learning about how we treat those in need.

Questions for reflection:

  • What can this story tell us about being kind to someone we don’t know? 
  • How can we make someone feel welcome when they are new to Squirrels?
  • What should we do to welcome a new member to our group?
  • Can you draw a picture of welcoming a new Squirrel to our Drey?

Is it true or false?

This game lets young people decide if a statement is true or false, then think about what happens if we choose to follow people who might also not know the answer.

Ask everyone to get together in the middle of the space. Explain that when a statement is read out, they need to decide if it’s true or false. If it’s true, they could move to the left of the space and if they think it’s false, they should move to the right of the space. When you’re ready, start reading out the statements. You could give people 15 seconds to make their decision, or longer if needed. Some possible true or false statements you could use are:

  1. Goldfish have a three-second memory span. (False. Goldfish have a memory span of at least three months.)
  2. Butterflies taste with their feet. (True)
  3. You can’t swallow and breathe at the same time. (True)
  4. Ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they’re scared. (False)
  5. The International Space Station orbits Earth every 90 minutes. (True)
  6. There are no railways in Iceland. (True)
  7. A rhinoceros’ horn is made of hair. (True)
  8. China’s the largest country in the world by area (False. Russia is the largest country in the world by area.)
  9. A slug has four noses. (True)
  10. It’s possible to sneeze while you sleep. (False)

Questions for reflection: 

  • How did you decide if something was true or false?
  • Did anyone decide based on someone else’s decision or just follow a friend?
  • Did you speak with someone before deciding? Did they change your mind or you change their mind?
  • Did you hear someone else talking or think someone else knew the answer and follow them?
  • Did anyone change their mind right at the last second?
  • Did anyone change their mind to then be wrong? Had they changed their mind because of someone else or because of the number of people on the other side?
  • What happens when we follow what someone else thinks? How can you make sure we’re deciding based on our own thoughts and values? 

Explore themes of Integrity with our activities:

Respect: We have self-respect and respect for others.

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Julián is a Mermaid is a story about a boy and his Abuela, which means grandmother. It’s a story about being seen for who we are by someone who loves us. It tells the story of a boy who wants to become a mermaid and participate in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

Questions for reflection:

  • Julián is a Mermaid doesn’t have many words, but what do the pictures tell us? Which picture is your favourite?
  • How does Julián’s Abuela make Julián feel loved for being a mermaid?
  • How does Julián is a Mermaid link to our Scout value of Respect?
  • What does Abuela do to show us she is being respectful to Julián? She supports him, helps him, and encourages his hobbies and interests.
  • How can we be respectful to other people, just like Julián?
  • Can you make a picture, drawing, painting or collage of the mermaid parade? 

Create plays to show what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes

This activity is to help young people develop and understand what empathy and respect are, allowing for discussions about respect.

Gather everyone together. Ask if anyone knows what the Scout values are.

Explain that one of the Scout values is respect, then ask everyone what respect means to them and if they can think of any examples of how we can be respectful.

Ask everyone to get into to four groups. Give each group a scenario to act out in front of the whole group, each other or to one other group, depending on what everyone’s happy and comfortable with.

Each group could prepare a script, or they may want to improvise it. You could use props or set up scenes using any furniture you have.

After 10 or 15 minutes, everyone should perform their final play. You could discuss each scenario at the end.

Some suggested scenarios could be:

Scenario A  - A new Scout has joined your group called Amir. Amir’s a refugee from Syria. English is not Amir’s first language, but he’s started learning it. Amir’s starting at the local primary school. How could you welcome Amir to your Scout meetings?

Scenario B -  A member of your group, Sofia, comes to a Scout meeting wearing a new pair of trainers. Some people in the group tease Sofia about her trainers and she’s upset. How can you make Sofia feel better and stop the bullying?

Scenario C - At Scouts, a young leader’s showing someone how to tie knots and explaining it again as the person found it difficult. Another friend says, ‘Why would anyone need help with that? It’s so easy!’ and the person gets upset. How can you make them feel better?

Scenario D - You notice someone sitting alone at lunchtime on camp. They’re crying because some other Scouts have teased them about their accent and used unkind words. How could you help them.

Scenario E - You’re at a Scout event with your friend, who’s waiting to use the toilet. A boy walks out of the disabled toilet. Your friend says that only people with disabilities should be using that toilet. How would you respond to your friend?

Scenario F - There is an exciting game of football on Scout camp. A group of girls want to join in, but they’re told that the girls aren’t allowed because girls are no good at football. What could you do to make sure everyone can play football?

Scenario G - After an art activity at Scouts, one of the adults asks everyone to tidy up their tables. One of the girls on your table has created quite a lot of mess and is struggling to tidy up. The adult says that the first tidy table will get some extra team points. The other members of the table begin to get cross as they have cleaned their section, and the girl still has lots of mess left to clear. How could you make everyone feel better?

Scenario H - You’re playing a game at a large camp and a Scout you don’t know comes and asks to join in. The Scout has long hair and your friend asks if they’re a boy or a girl. The Scout is upset. What could you do to make sure the new Scout feels welcome?  

The Danger of a Single Story

For this activity, you’ll need a device that’s connected to the internet that everyone can see, such as a laptop and project or a tablet device per group. 

Ask everyone to watch this TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on ‘The Danger of a Single Story’.

Please note that the video is 19 minutes and 16 seconds long.

This activity’s meant to help Scouts reflect on the issue of stereotyping and labelling, and how this often leads to discrimination. It also helps Scouts to recognise the importance of listening other people’s experiences and understanding their perspective and perceptions.

Once the video’s finished, you could ask questions to help people reflect on what they’re just seen and heard.

Questions for reflection and discussion:

  • What’s your general reaction to this speech?
  • Has anyone experienced a similar situation?
  • Have you ever felt stereotyped or judged based on your culture or identity?
  • How did you feel? What did you do? What would you do differently next time?
  • Have you ever stereotyped or judged someone based on their culture or any other aspect of their identity?
  • How did you feel? What did you do? What would you do differently next time?
  • Do you know what categorisation, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination each mean? How can we differentiate between these four concepts?
  • How can we challenge or breakdown stereotypes?
  • How can we avoid being prejudiced and help to stop discrimination?

Care: We support others and take care of the world in which we live.

Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival

Ruby loves being Ruby. Until, one day, she finds a worry. At first, it's not such a big worry, and that's all right, but then it starts to grow. It gets bigger and bigger every day and it makes Ruby sad.

How can Ruby get rid of it and feel like herself again? This is the perfect book for discussing childhood worries and anxieties, no matter how big or small they may be.

Questions for reflection:

  • What happened to Ruby and her worry?
  • Who did Ruby meet in the park?
  • How did Ruby make her worry smaller?
  • Have you ever had a worry?
  • What did you do to help make you worry smaller?
  • How do you feel about your worries?
  • Which trusted adult can you talk to about a worry you might have?

Explore themes of Care with your group by completing our activity:

Curate your own anti-discrimination exhibition

This activity helps young people to be creative and take action on anti-discrimination within their local communities.

Gather everyone together and ask everyone what group the Scout value for Care means to them.

Ask how the Scout value of care might relate to anti-discrimination. For example, we can speak out about anti-discrimination against certain communities to show we care and want to help.

Ask everyone if they can think of any ways that we can help tackle discrimination through Scouts.

Working in groups, in pairs or on your own, ask everyone to create some art, such as a painting, poem, story or collage, that celebrates anti-discrimination and inclusivity.

When everyone’s completed their art pieces, ask them to write a label for their art explaining the piece, just like you’d find in an art gallery. They may want to add their first name.

Everyone can then help to display the artwork in your meeting place and invite in their family and friends to view it. You could also take photos of it and share it in an online virtual gallery

Belief: We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes.

My Shadow is Purple by Scott Stuart

My Dad has a shadow that’s blue as a berry, and my Mum's is as pink as a blossoming cherry. There’s only those choices, a 2 or a 1. But mine is quite different, it’s both and it’s none. A heartwarming and inspiring book about being true to yourself.

Questions for reflection:

  • In the story, what did having a pink or a blue shadow mean?
  • Why did the boy have a purple shadow, not just a blue or pink one?
  • Did the boy have to like just pink or just blue things, just because other people said he should?
  • What was hard for him having a purple shadow?
  • How did the other blue and pink shadows and teacher treat him?
  • How did his mum and dad treat him?
  • How did purple shadow stand up for himself and what he believed in at the school dance?
  • How did yellow shadow help purple shadow and how did they help all the other shadows?
  • How did they learn to love their shadows, just how it is?
  • What does it teach us about what people? Do they just have to be blue or pink? Can people be purple or any colour they want to be?
  • How does the story tell us to be accepting of everybody? Can anyone like anything, no matter who they are and what the people around them like?
  • Should we be proud of what we like and belief in, even if other people say things about it?
  • How can we make sure we help people to be happy and support them to be whoever they want to be? For example, by not saying mean things about what people like or not separating things by colour.

Explore themes of Beliefs with your group by completing our activity:

YouShaped activity session

This activity lets young people plan and run an event to celebrates and explore different faiths, cultures, beliefs and attitudes.

You can help Scouts, Explorers or Network members to host an event to bring together communities in their local areas to celebrate different backgrounds.

Questions for reflection:

  • What’s the theme of the event?
  • When and where the event will be held?
  • Will it be inclusive, including public transport?      
  • If any, what is the budget required?
  • What activities will there be, such as a quiz, crafts, games or talk
  • Who will be invited from the local community?
  • If any, what refreshments will be needed and how will they include all dietary requirements, allergies and needs?
  • Is there anything else you need to make your event inclusive, such as large print text versions, translators or interpreters?

Co-operation: We make a positive difference; we co-operate with others and make friends.

Mixed: A Colourful Story by Arree Chung

The Blues, Reds and Yellows lived in harmony. Reds were the loudest, Yellows the brightest and Blues were the coolest.

However, when one of the colours proclaims they’re the best, an argument breaks out. The colours decide to live in different parts of the city.

Then, one day, a Yellow befriends a Blue. They become inseparable, discovering a world of different possibilities and colours.

Questions for reflection:

  • Can you remember the different colours? What were they like?
  • Why did the colours all have to live in different parts of the city?
  • What happened when the colours weren’t mixing together?  
  • What did Yellow and Blue do?
  • What happened when the colours started to mix?
  • Was the city better when they worked together as a team?
  • Why was each colour saying they were the best not very good teamwork? How could they work together and cooperate better? For example, they could cheer each other on and see how they were good at different things. They may be best at certain things, but they were the best when they worked together.
  • You could create some artwork, such as a painting or crayon drawing, using all the colours to show them working together. You could also create artwork about friendship or try some teamwork games.

Explore themes of Co-operation with these two activities:

Explore themes of Co-operation with your group by completing our activity: