What you need to know about buddies to support new volunteers.
What is a buddy?
A buddy is someone who’ll support a new volunteer during their induction into Scouts. They will offer guidance, answer questions and help the new volunteer understand what it’s like to volunteer at Scouts. They can share their experiences and support each other.
By having their own buddy, a new volunteer has someone they can turn to for advice and general help when getting to grips with their tasks.
Why having a buddy is helpful
We know everyone will have a slightly different experience throughout their volunteering journey with us. We want to make this as smooth as possible and as similar as it can be, regardless of where they choose to volunteer.
Volunteers are at the centre of their own journey, but we want them to know we can also be with them every step of the way. Their buddy can help with as much, or as little, as they need and we’ll also be on hand to answer any questions they may have.
Support by the Volunteering Development Team
Volunteering Development Teams will be responsible for making sure there’s support in place for new volunteers. It’s not their specific task, but they’ll be able to help with finding and matching new volunteers to buddies.
Groups should regularly chat to members of their District teams to make sure buddies are ready and available to support a new volunteer as they begin volunteering.
Buddies will make sure new volunteers feel supported and safe to ask questions, gain ideas and get help throughout their journey, based on their own needs and motivations.
Why you should become a buddy
- You’re able to answer questions, or point people in the right direction to finding the answers.
- You’re a great listener.
- You’re knowledgeable about our programme, how Scouts’ is run in your local area, or even if you want to brush up on these areas and test your knowledge.
- You enjoy supporting others.
- You’ve got great ideas and are happy to share how you do things.
How to become a buddy
Every adult in Scouts can choose to be a buddy, as it’s not an official role or accreditation.
The qualities that come with being a buddy are in line with our Scouts values and Promise. Being helpful and supportive is something we all do naturally in our day to day volunteering with Scouts, so we strongly encourage our members to become buddies too.
- Reach out and arrange contact methods that work for both of you. You might only talk online, or arrange to meet every so often. Make it work for the new volunteer to suit their needs.
- Be prepared to point them in the right direction. You may need to suggest other volunteers, who can buddy up with them at different points, for example if they want to gain a certain permit you don’t have.
- Be like a manager for the new volunteer. Remember, this is a non-official, unrecorded and casual role.
- Feel like this is something permanent. Being a buddy might not last forever, just as long as you and the new volunteer feel comfortable with the arrangements you’ve made. It may naturally fizz away after a while, when the new volunteer no longer needs support, and that’s OK.
You don’t need to have been in Scouts forever, and you don’t need to know everything.
As a buddy to a new volunteer, you just need to be able to support them in finding out the information they need. And don’t panic, because if you don't know, you can go on that fact-finding journey together!
Having an understanding of Scouts in your local area, who’s who, and what groups exist would be great, but all that information should be in the welcome pack too.
It’d be best if you match up to someone who has a similar role to you, so you can give them advice and tips from your own experiences, and make sure you can give accurate information about their learning, development and so on.
There’s no official learning needed to become a buddy.
Being a buddy should be natural and conversational, and shouldn’t feel like being a teacher or a trainer.
No, it’s not. We'll provide some general guidance on what both you, as the buddy, and the new volunteer need, but apart from that, this can be arranged at a local level.
Speak to members of your Volunteering Development Team, who’ll be able to give more information on how this works in your area.
No, it’s not essential for all new volunteers to have a buddy when first joining. We want to be flexible to everyone’s needs, and they may decide it’s not right for them.
But, we do want to offer this as an option to everyone who joins Scouts, to make sure everyone has equal opportunities. We’d like as many current volunteers as possible to buddy up with new volunteers, so we can enhance the experience for all new members and make them feel like a part of Scouts.
A new volunteer can decide at any point whether they might like a buddy. It could be when they begin other learning or get more involved with their section. They can speak to their Team Leader, who’ll be able to arrange a buddy to support them at any stage in their journey.
Sounds great- what do I do next?
Make yourself known to your Volunteering Development Team. They’ll have all the connections and will be able to point you in the direction of anyone new who may be looking for support.
Remember, you don’t need to complete any extra learning, but you might want to brush up on the information that’s included in the new volunteer welcome pack.
Interactive buddy flow chart
Use the ‘buddy flow chart’ to get an idea of who you could offer support to and who’d best benefit from it.