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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

Engaging with diverse and under-represented communities

Engaging with diverse and under-represented communities

Community engagement is about recognising the importance of positive interaction whatever form it takes, as well as facilitating, encouraging and promoting it.

Remember that different people will want to interact in different ways or to different extents – don't force it, try to be flexible. 

Here are some top tips to consider when engaging with communities:

Identify a key person/local community group in the local area who's able to connect and engage with those communities you haven't yet interacted with or that aren't yet engaged in Scouts. These champions represent a given community so will have great in-depth knowledge of those you wish to reach.

This could be the local church reverend, Imam from the local mosque, local community police or even the after-school parent that always connects with other parents at the school gate. It would be great if they are brand new to 'scouting' as they'll come with a fresh new perspective and engage differently to how Scouting volunteers may have already done.  

Check information with the local councils, they'll hold relevant data that should be accessible through their website. You could also check out the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Consider do a learning walk and check out the locality yourself.

Speak to prominent key people like the librarian, shopkeepers and post office. This would help identify pockets of communities that are generally not represented in Scouting. Children's Centres, local pre-schools and nurseries are ideal places to check out when looking to recruit young people and families.

Squirrels look to engage and open up into different communities through looking at three different models, the family-led, partner-led and Scout-led models. Being flexible in approach is key to engagement in different communities, one model may work better than another.  

Diversity is sometimes perceived as differences amongst us which then in turn adds to barriers and boundaries. It's far easier to engage with people when there is commonality.

At times we concentrate far too much on our differences instead of our common traits like ' I'm a dad or mum' or 'I work from home' or ‘I enjoy gardening’. With this in mind, it's easier to start up a conversation and build for effective engagement.

Scouts is all about opportunities for young people, strengthening communities and having fun – these are all things that resonate with most communities, parents/carers and young people!

Festivals are an expressive way to celebrate glorious heritage, culture and traditions. Many such celebrations focus on different cultures, faiths or ethnicities cultural topics and seek to inform community members of their traditions.

Therefore, the more we're informed the better the engagement. This would help with bridging communities and shows you are keen to interact, engage and embrace them. Communities from underrepresented groups will have cultural and religious differences, some may not eat a certain meat, some may fast at times throughout the year and some may not eat meat at all.  

Look at how we can ensure and create an open and truly inclusive environment. Scouts’ inclusion webpages can help you with this and the Activity Finder is full of activities that link to different cultural events that help too. You can also look at programme evenings that celebrate this diversity.

We know the values of Scouting and the benefits to young people. Start off by making it clear that it's an opportunity that’s all about young people, life-changing experiences and brilliant values.

Make ‘Skills for Life’ the main talking point, this is the selling factor that will attract everyone regardless of background. Showcase Scouts by using visual aids and activities, pictures can tell a thousand words and is understood by all. Videos of four and five year olds enjoying the benefits of Scouts tells a great story!

Opening a satellite section is a successful way of opening new provision in new communities and in areas of financial vulnerability. They get the benefit of an existing trustee board and financial structure and so can concentrate on delivering the Scouts programme.

This will help with building confidence and supporting the group to later become more equipped to carry out other elements of Scouting duties. 

Represent the community you're in. It's not about having one person from a certain ethnic background or under-represented group in order to give the appearance of diversity.

It's also not just about attracting people. It's about being inclusive and welcoming to all, being visible and appealing to diverse communities. This way we can encourage people from different backgrounds or under-represented groups to join our Scout groups.

It’s easy to accidentally slip into tokenism and show representation without genuinely thinking about your actual community.

Don’t let your efforts to increase both diversity and inclusion be just about mere gestures. We should try to think of ways to include those that normally would not get the opportunity to join Scouting, therefore active interaction is necessary.

A local community has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organised around common values. It's attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location generally in social units larger than a household.

The local community will include schools, pre-schools, nurseries, community/ youth and children centers, perhaps the local mosque, synagogue, parent and toddler groups, libraries and so on.

It is here where you'll find the communities you wish to open Scouting to and so your group will be reflective and equally represented. Parents may be a little reluctant to join in fear of their own apprehensions, particularly if English is their second language. One way to overcome this is to use family rotas so that the pressure is not on the same person all the time and they can share and learn together.

They can choose different ways of supporting the group in tasks they're comfortable with rather than be in a leader role. This way they're more likely to get involved.

Use promotional materials that include people from different ethnicities, genders, backgrounds and in different settings like rural and urban. Even in some areas it's still surprising to know that Scouting is not recognised as being open to girls.  Pictures that reflect the local community open the opportunity to say that Scouts is welcome to all.

Think about where else you could promote the Scout group other than the typical routes. Depending on the community you wish to attract, look at other non-traditional routes used like visit Madrassah classes, community events or the local temple. Social media platforms reach a wide audience so think about the catchment targets and use appropriate wording and pictures.

It's always helpful to have someone on the team to be able to guide us and keep up to date on current matters. They can help you to better understand any barriers which are fundamental blockers of community engagement and interaction.

Getting the communication right from the start helps open the gateway to hearing the reasons for not getting involved and finding ways to overcome those concerns. Getting support from the right people can help with any apprehensions you may have when it comes to engaging with diverse communities.

National Inclusion Team – This Team is the National Team that looks at Diversity and Inclusion on a National Level, they host events throughout the year and have created training around diversity and inclusion.

Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) Inclusion – Each County will have an ACC Inclusion and they will have a responsibility for all aspects of Inclusion in the county. It would be beneficial for the Local Champion to get in touch with the ACC Inclusion and get some additional support.

Think of the audience you're trying to engage with and use language that is easily understood. Avoid typical Scout jargon, especially when engaging with people that are unfamiliar with Scouting.

This can often scare them and make them feel uncomfortable. Try to do a bit of learning about the language or cultural aspects of communities you’re engaging with or even simpler, ask someone from the community to help you out with this.

People may view things differently, so be cautious and do your research so not to offend anyone. It's better to ask questions rather than presume. People are appreciative of questions that are asked sincerely and show interest in them. 

Furthering reach toolkit

Your local area is filled with a variety of communities. Have a look at the toolkit to explore ways to welcome everyone into your Drey.

Find out how to welcome your local communities >