The Rural Home of Food, and much much more

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"The rural home of food", so said the roadside sign as we drove into the village of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire on Saturday. It also happens to be the home of the 4th Melton Mowbray Scout Group, and the venue for the opening of their new HQ building which I was lucky enough to join them for.

Like so many groups across the UK, the members of the 4th Melton Mowbray have been working hard raising funds, in their case for the past 25 years, and in earnest for the past 10 to redevelop their meeting facilities.

For the past year the 160 plus members of the group and its six sections have been using a variety of meeting facilities and storage in the leaders homes, as well as the local cattle market!

All that upheaval came to an end on Saturday when in glorious sunshine and with many of the young people enjoying canoeing and rafting on the river that runs alongside the HQ, we were joined by many members of the local community who had also helped to make the project the success it clearly is to officially open their new centre.

Building fund project

I was there with Bruce, Grants Manager who supports the Development Grants Board (DGB) because this was one of nine building projects supported by the DGB as part of a building fund pilot project set up in 2008.

We had indentified some time ago the very significant amount of time spent by Groups looking to redevelop their meeting facilities and have tried to identify ways in which we may be able to assist from HQ. The building fund project, which has included ongoing monitoring and regular visits by the DGB members, has enabled us to learn a large number of lessons.

It is pleasing to be able to report that some of the initial findings are that all projects have been successful, that positive publicity has increased local community support and that in all cases The Scout Association funding has helped to encourage other local funding considerably.

More importantly, a number of lessons have been learned and ways in which local Scouting can be better supported to develop their meeting facilities identified. These are presently being collated by the DGB for further consideration.

Interestingly, on looking back on the original announcement and many of the comments members made at the time, it is clear that we are never going to have the funds centrally to provide significant financial contribution.

However, I am confident that we will be able to provide a significant amount of more practical support and guidance than we do at the moment. Watch this space for further developments!

Clearly the young people of the 4th Melton Mowbray are an excellent example of the benefits that can be obtained through good quality local facilities. Of course, the programme itself can only be achieved through inspired and motivated leaders, and better facilities just make this task a little easier - they can so often become a distraction if you are not careful! 

A new Scout Group for Thorpe Satchville...

Whilst in Melton, I took the opportunity to meet with Alison, the District Commissioner and several members of her team to catch up with what else has been going on within the District - there was much to discuss.

Of particular interest was the opening of a new group in a nearby village, Thorpe Satchville, and hearing from Andrew, a member of the District Team who had parachuted himself in as acting Group Scout Leader to get the group up and running. As a result of his efforts and others from the team, they now have a full leadership team running a Beaver and Cub Section and over 50 young people enjoying Scouting.

They are shortly moving into another village to undertake a similar exercise and also looking to work closely with the local Polish community to provide Scouting for them. 

Planning the future...

Quickly back to the train and to my team meeting on Saturday evening and Sunday at BP House. The main focus of our meeting was the ongoing implementation of our business objectives (action plans) covering a number of key areas of work around adult support, diversity strategy, management and leadership within the Movement and providing effective support to section and unit leaders.

We were joined on Sunday morning by Rob, recently appointed Assistant Director of Internal Communications and Creative to discuss his initial thoughts and to discuss a number of challenges and potential solutions around our internal communications.

We also considered the interim review following Bears successful weekend in the North East region and looked at future weekends with Bear, of which there will be two a year, and ensuring that he gets to each of the Countries and Regions in that time.

More on this later.

Earlier on in the week I had managed to fit together two meetings with members of the Adult Support team in Southampton and somebody I am trying to persuade to become involved in our Adult Support work and a meeting with Alan, our Chairman to catch up on various items including a review of Bear’s recent weekend in the North East and feedback from some meetings he has recently attended.

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