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Long waiting list for Scouts is due to a lack of adult volunteers in South East Scotland

Friday May 20th 2022

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Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Scouts is so popular that the massive waiting list and lack of new adult volunteer leaders mean that in a post-pandemic future fewer young people are to get out and try new things.

South East Scotland Scouts has a waiting list of 1,800+ young people (up by 23% in 2021) according to figures released by Scouts with Beavers, the second-youngest section aged 6-8 years old, having 41% of the waiting list. This means that the youth member waiting list exceeds the number of new volunteers coming forward.

Youth membership in the South East Scotland Region – made up of the seven Districts of Borders, Braid, Craigalmond, East Lothian, Edinburgh North East, Midlothian, and Pentland – has grown from 6,186 to 6,546 between 2021 and 2022, a 5.8% increase based on the Scouts National Census report.
Overall Scouting membership in South East Region has risen 4.1% year on year when you take in adult members bringing the total involved in Scouting to 8,413. Compared to pre-pandemic the decline in full membership is 10%.

Whilst the growth in youth membership census figures is to be celebrated, more volunteers are needed to help return overall membership numbers to pre-pandemic membership levels. More adult volunteers are needed to widen the participation in Scouting, inspire younger people and help teach them the skills they need for life. As a volunteer-led movement; Scouts is only possible thanks to the adult volunteers who help the young people week in and week out as well as those who support them such as the Executive Committees. Everyone can get involved, with or without any previous Scouting experience.

To recover and regrow post-COVID, they need more adult volunteers to give young people aged 4-25 the opportunity to improve their confidence, wellbeing, and resilience. South East Scotland Scouts wants to help young people realise how amazing they are, but the plea for more volunteers to enable this begins today. Anyone can help – working with young people or more ‘behind the scenes’ with no Scouting experience being essential. Whether it be two hours a month or one or two hours a week.

Everyone has a skill and Scouts can help you use it to support the future and the next generation. Together, no matter your background and reason for giving your time and energy, Scouts wants to help young people be the best future citizens they can be. By practising the powerful and simple acts of service to others by volunteering with Scouts you have the chance to make young people’s lives brighter and more meaningful while helping to feel more connected with your community.

Volunteering with the Scouts can bring real benefits to those who choose to join. Volunteers for the Scouts report having improved life satisfaction (70%) and self-esteem (66%) since beginning volunteer work, as well as having reduced feelings of loneliness (42%) and stress (33%).

The Scouts’ annual census provides a snapshot of youth and adult membership. Scouts is as much for young people as it is for adults and is even more important than ever before, giving young people life skills, a sense of connection and belonging.

Regional Commissioner Martin Elliot said: “I would like to thank all our volunteers for the work that they have done, particularly through the pandemic, to ensure that young people continue to have access to Scouting and to develop Skills for Life. The Census numbers this year show that their hard work is bringing young people back to the movement, but we recognise that many still don’t have access to the amazing opportunities that Scouting provides. We have exciting plans for continuing to develop Scouting in South East Scotland including making our Scouting membership more inclusive and representative of our communities and providing opportunities for 4 and 5-year-olds through our new Squirrels section, but we need more adult volunteers to support these.”

“Personally, volunteering with the Scouts has given me so many great experiences and helped me to develop new skills so I would encourage anyone who has an interest in helping to develop the next generation to get involved – whatever your interests and availability we have flexible volunteering opportunities to suit you.”

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout said: “The Scouts play a fundamental role in the lives of young people, and it is fantastic to see that acknowledged through an increase in membership after a tough couple of years.”

“The pandemic proved the importance of coming together and it’s great to see Scouts enjoying new experiences and learning vital skills for life again. But, as we build back our membership, we need the help of more adult volunteers so that we can continue providing opportunities for many more prospective young Scouts.”

Scouting actively engages and supports young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society and create connections. They can go outdoors, try new activities, make new friends, and learn new skills. In 2021, South East Scotland Scouts reported that, despite COVID, even more, young people are doing just this with more top awards being completed year on year.

Research has shown that the benefits of Scouting extend far into adulthood. By the time those who have been involved in Scouting reach 50 years old, they are 15% less likely to suffer anxiety or mood disorders. Recent evidence has suggested that children and young people’s mental health has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic with Scouts offering a valuable opportunity to help young people develop a support network.

It is worth noting that it is forecast that the population of South East Scotland is projected to increase above the national average. This is mostly in urban areas. This significant population growth will undoubtedly generate different challenges and opportunities within communities.

One pressure point will be in the provision of local scouting thus adding further to the ever-growing Scouts waiting list unless adult volunteers offer to help.

Those interested in learning more about volunteering for the Scouts or joining as a volunteer can find out more information on the website – sesscouts.org.uk/volunteering/

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