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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

Guide to running Welcome Conversations

How Lead Volunteers, Team Leaders and Welcome Conversation Volunteers can run a great Welcome Conversation

From 1 June 2024, Welcome Conversations are starting to be rolled out for new volunteers in our Early Adopter Counties. Volunteers in All Other Counties should continue delivering Appointments Panels for new volunteers.

Find out which group my County is in

The purpose of the Welcome Conversation

We want to give a great first impression to new volunteers. We want them to feel welcome, valued and supported.

The Welcome Conversation is an opportunity to make sure new volunteers are clear on our expectations of them. It's an important part of helping each new volunteer feel like they're part of the team, and are prepared for their volunteering. We need to make sure they understand and commit to our values, and how we keep young people safe, so that Scouts is the right fit for them. 

It’s also a chance to connect, find out more about why they want to volunteer and what their skills and interests are.

We can help them find the support they need and talk about tasks and responsibilities. They can also ask us questions and find out more about Scouts.

At Scouts, we always put young people first. What this means is we need to meet with new volunteers face to face (this can also be virtually) with the new volunteer, to give them the opportunity to ask questions and to make sure each volunteer has the same fair, but welcoming experience. This should also mean that an open and honest conversation can take place, and that we meet safer recruitment guidelines, such as the NSPCC Safer Recruitment guidance.

When to have the Welcome Conversation

Team Leaders should arrange a Welcome Conversation no later than six weeks into a new volunteer's joining journey. This should be after they’ve visited their team, so the conversation feels more relevant. If for some reason this isn’t possible, then in line with POR it must be completed within six months.

Volunteers usually only ever need to have one Welcome Conversation, – they won’t need another if they add or change roles, as long as they’ve not had a break in service of more than 30 days.  

If a volunteer starts in a role that doesn’t require a Welcome Conversation, for example a Trustee position, and then moves to a different role that does, they’ll then need to have a Welcome Conversation. 

Who takes part in the Welcome Conversation

The Welcome Conversation is made up by: 

  • 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). 

In a Group, this is likely to be a member of the Group Leadership Team, perhaps the Lead Volunteer or Section/Sub-team Team Leader. They must have completed their Welcome Conversation learning and should’ve already met the new volunteer.  

If someone other than the Lead Volunteer is responsible for recruitment, and they have the Welcome Conversation Volunteer accreditation, they're able to do the conversation in place of the Lead Volunteer or Team Leader.  

This must be someone who is not part of the same Group or Team as the new volunteer, who has the Welcome Conversation Volunteer accreditation. It might also be useful if they have experience of a similar role to the new volunteer. For example, if you’re a Beaver Section Team Member, you might take part in a Welcome Conversation for someone who’s coming into a Squirrel, Beaver or Cub Section Team Member role.  

To have a Welcome Conversation Volunteer accreditation, you’ll need to be an active, full member of a Group, District or County Team, who's completed the necessary learning, and agreed with the Volunteering Development Team Leader that you’re happy to take on these responsibilities. This can’t be anyone whose only role is Trustee, or whose only role does not have a criminal record check.  

The Volunteering Development Team will make sure there are enough Welcome Conversation Volunteers locally and be able to support with finding someone to support the conversation from outside the Group / District if needed.

Cartoon graphics of volunteers on colourful backgrounds.

What to consider when running a Welcome Conversation

Invite the new volunteer to a Welcome Conversation 

Contact the new volunteer via their preferred method (phone call or email) and agree a time and a place that’s good for them. This could be a Scouts meeting place, local District building, a coffee shop, or even over a virtual tool such as Zoom or Teams. Make sure to:

  • Explain that this will be an informal conversation rather than an interview, 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 
  • Share our Welcome Conversation checklist

Plan the conversation

  • The new volunteer’s Team Leader or their delegate should make sure an independent volunteer with the Welcome Conversation Volunteer accreditation can attend the conversation
  • Plan how you’ll deliver the conversation together, making sure it’s conversational and open 
  • The conversation shouldn’t last longer than 45 minutes, so plan how long you want to spend on each area to help structure it

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 

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've received a link to confirm their details and can sign in to 
  • Explain the steps in the joining journey they've completed and any outstanding tasks they still need to do (the Lead Volunteer or Team Leader 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 
  • Offer them a local buddy 
  • Check they’ve been given a welcome pack to help them in their role 
  • Let them know they can update their personal information online at any time 

After the conversation, the new volunteer’s Team Leader will need to record the outcome.

  • If a delegate attended the Welcome Conversation, rather than the new volunteer’s Team Leader, they’ll need to inform the Team Leader of the outcome of the conversation, so they can then record this onto the new volunteer’s record.  
  • Everyone will have a chance to say whether they’re happy with how the conversation went. 
  • The new volunteer can then continue their volunteering journey. 

Remember, the Welcome Conversation is only one step in the joining journey. Once all joining journey steps are complete the new volunteer's appointment will move to ‘full’ status. Until that point, they can volunteer but must not have unsupervised access to young people.


Welcome Conversation checklist

This handy checklist is for Welcome Conversation Volunteers and Team Leaders to use during the Welcome Conversation. It's a conversation guide, to make sure all the points have been covered. 

The checklist should also be shared with the new volunteer ahead of the conversation, so they know what to expect. 

Make sure you let the new volunteer see this throughout the conversation, and tick things off as you go through them together.  

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 Team Leader. 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 make your journey easy to follow through Can you access this?
  6. Complete the rest of your joining journey steps.

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, Team Leader 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!


Becoming a Welcome Conversation Volunteer

Discover what you need to do to become a Welcome Conversation Volunteer. Please note, at the moment, only volunteers in Early Adopter Counties can become Welcome Conversation Volunteers.

Find out how to become a Welcome Conversation Volunteer