Volunteers needed to swell scout ranks further
The scouting movement in East Sussex is riding along on the crest of a wave, as the old scout song has it – but even though the number of volunteers has reached a record level, still more are needed to enable the large numbers of would-be recruits to join. Nick Terdre reports.
Scouts in East Sussex have 1,879 adult volunteers on their books, the highest number ever. They help provide activities for 5,813 scouts across the county. Yet the movement is calling for even more volunteers so that the 514 young people on the waiting list – itself an all-time high – can be taken on board. In the 12 months to end January, 94 youngsters joined up.
The situation in East Sussex mirrors that of the movement nationally, with 154,000 volunteers out of total membership of 618,000 – but the waiting list of wannabe scouts stands at a record 51,000, according to the Scout Association.
Largest youth movement
Following 12 consecutive years of growth in its youth membership, scouting is firmly established as the largest co-educational youth movement in the UK.
Scouting provides “skills for life, including leadership, responsibility and self-sufficiency, underpinned by a sense of fun,” according to John Easton, East Sussex County Commissioner. But the flexible terms offered to volunteers, while proving attractive, mean that more volunteers are needed to staff the county’s 300 sections.
“We are especially looking to add to our leadership and management teams from different cultures, faiths, genders, and backgrounds,” said the county commissioner.
“People often say to me that they have little time to spare, that they are working all hours or have responsibilities at home or no relevant experience that prohibit them getting involved, no matter how much they’d like to. My answer to this is, ‘If you are willing, then we’ll adapt around you.’”
From Baden-Powell to Bear Grylls
It’s more than 100 years since scouting was established by the enigmatic Robert Baden-Powell in 1907, and has since spread around the world, now counting some 40 million members. These days the movement in the UK is fittingly led by adventurer Bear Grylls, who recently welcomed five well-known figures as scout ambassadors: paralympic gold medallist Ellie Symonds, Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover, TV presenters Anita Rani and Steve Backshall, and adventurer Megan Hine.
“Like our other volunteers and supporters, they are incredible role models for young people, embodying our values and inspiring the next generation,’ the Chief Scout said. “Each of them brings their own unique skills and talents and I know will help shine a light on Scouting’s amazing work.”
Find out about volunteering with East Sussex County Scouts here.
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