BBC: “Leaders are at their scarcest in Surrey”

The BBC writes today (see here):

There are 51,000 children on a waiting list to become Scouts, Beavers, Cubs or Explorers, according to the organisation behind the movement. The Scout Association, which is open to girls and boys between six and 18, blamed a shortage of volunteer leaders. It said record numbers of adults were members but that volunteers had limited amounts of time.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls said it was a “challenge” to recruit more people. “We’ve got 51,000 young people wanting to join and benefit from what scouting offers,” he said.

“Volunteering changes us all for the better. Please join me.”

There are 457,000 Scouts, including Beavers (aged six to eight), Cubs (eight to 10), Scouts (10 to 14) and Explorers (14 to 18).

Although 154,000 adults currently volunteer, which the Scouts said was an all-time high, people are committing less time than before. About 17,000 more volunteers are needed, the Scout Association said. Leaders are at their scarcest in Surrey, Devon and Merseyside.

The organisation said volunteers typically commit to attending sessions on a regular basis and will plan what to do during meetings, as well as undertake training. Those volunteering with older children, like the Scouts, may also go on trips or expeditions over the weekend.

Tim Kidd, UK chief commissioner at the Scout Association, said the organisation was making it easier for those with limited time to join by being flexible about a range of roles, including group leaders, administrative and trustee positions.

Online badge sales

From 6 March, Scout Shops will introduce a new UK Scouting online badge ordering service to compliment the local Badge Secretary service, providing a wider choice to members. Scout Shops will introduce a verification process to ensure that all customers are genuine. Existing online Badge Secretaries do not have access at a national level to Compass so are unable to validate membership details leaving the opportunity for non-members, especially collectors, to purchase restricted items.

It’s important to note that this additional service provides choice to members to complement the great service provided by local badge secretaries. It provides choice, especially to those who don’t have a local badge secretary or local scout shop. Ultimately, this will reduce the burden at District and Group levels from stockpiling badges, some of which may be discontinued meaning a reduction in local financial risk.

Online badge ordering will launch at on Monday 6 March allowing members to order alongside their regular orders of uniforms and Scout souvenirs in one place at any time of the day.

Karen Almond

Head of Scout Shops

The Scout Association