Becoming more culturally aware

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I have to confess to struggling a little when the alarm went off at 5.15 am on Friday morning at the start of a busy weekend of meetings having enjoyed 10 days travel free and with the family in Guernsey over the Easter holidays.

First up was my regular meeting with the head of a large disability charity for whom I act as a mentor, but in reality derive as much benefit from the mutual support and discussions we have about the challenges we face in our different roles. It was then onto our “Key 3” meeting which kicked off this week with lunch with the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body of Freemasons of England and Wales.

In addition to discussing how Scouting was spending the £500,000 recently donated by their Grand Charity, We discussed a number of other areas of common interest, not least of which could be how we might influence the 230,000 or more members they have across the UK and how they could support Scouting locally.

Interestingly, one of the first projects we have used the funding for has included the development costs of the new range of games books launched recently for the Beaver, Cub and Scout sections – I was certainly impressed with some of the new ideas and ease of understanding.

After lunch, we were joined by 2 fellow Trustees, Sonika and Chris, who are members of a small group discussing a review of the sub-committees under the Board of Trustees. This is a natural extension following the changes over the past year or so to the Board itself.

Not much time for further discussion in the afternoon before having to rush to Gilwell for an early discussion over dinner with the UK Adviser for Network, Adrian, and the UK Adviser for Scout Active Support, Glenn, where we discussed a number of specific topics of each area as well as some shared aspects.

Luckily following the meeting, Adrian was able to give me a lift up to Leicester – I just hope he believed me when I tried to reassure him that the only reason I kept nodding off was because of my early start and holiday!

It felt strange being back in Leicester so soon after my last visit although on this occasion it was to participate in some cultural awareness training with 19 local and national colleagues to learn a little more about the various faiths, minority communities and to discuss the challenges we face in ensuring that Scouting really is open to all and not just something that we have as an aspiration.

The training included a visit to a local Hindu temple and Mosque both of which I found fascinating and highly informative; the only real way to understand different faiths.

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