Toasting successful partnerships...

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The week started off like so many others recently with Monday morning in the office at Gilwell, this week to catch up Debbie Bainbridge and Kester Sharpe, who have recently been appointed UK Commissioners for Adult Support and who were in the office for the day as part of their induction.

In the afternoon, I joined 150 Scouts and leaders from across the UK along with 30+ Members of Parliament for our annual Speaker's Reception.

We were particularly delighted this year that the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, was able to find time on a particularly busy afternoon to join us and say a few words. You can see the reports of some of the Scouts who joined us by visiting Croydon Scouting and from Cheshire. I rounded the day off with a further K3 meeting before heading home.

A partnership that is literally saving lives

On Wednesday evening, I was honoured to represent the Association for the 10th Anniversary of ShelterBox at a reception hosted by their Patron, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House.

For me, ShelterBox is a great example of one of highly successful partnerships which not only involves Scouts across the UK (more than 22,000 members have registered so far for the ShelterBox Challenge) but also Scouts in many of the countries affected by disasters and where local Scouts provide an instant distribution network, most recently evidenced in Haiti, Guatemala and Brazil.

Their founder, Tom Henderson, speaks very passionately of the support that Scouting offers them, including at their centre in Cornwall where local members regularly meet to assist with the packing of the boxes.

By coincidence, on the evening of my visit, my local Cub Pack were having an evening themed on Pakistan (involving food of course) because they had tracked the ShelterBox they had raised funds for on the website and found that it had been delivered to Pakistan as part of the disaster relief effort in that country. An inspiration to all of us.

The staff-volunteer partnership

Back to Gilwell on Friday for further meetings with members of the Programme Team before a meeting of the Headquarters Appointments sub-committee in the afternoon. This sub-committee oversees the national level appointments (eg of my team, County Commissioners, Regional Commissioners and Area Commissioners etc) and we were looking at ways to improve the current processes and that we are finding the best candidates.

The Operations sub-committee met on Saturday and, as usual, this meeting was largely dominated by consideration of project and budget proposals of the coming financial year (April 2011).

The workplans are developed in a number of ways including feedback from places such as online forums, our attendance at a variety of local workshops, focus groups and events, Your Programme Your Voice and the so called ‘Red Book’ where various suggestions and ideas are recorded.

The Operations sub-committee are responsible for reviewing and prioritising them especially as the total projected expenditure almost always exceeds our available budget! I will share with you some of the projects in more detail once the second round of budget considerations have been made in the new year.

I would hate to set hares racing before then! The committee also reviews ongoing work and received a progress report on the review of the Swimming Rules (more of this within the next ten days all being well).

Partnerships in global Scouting

Late Saturday afternoon and evening saw the first meeting of the delegation attending the World Youth Forum and the World Scout Conference in Brazil in January 2011.

Our delegation which is made up of four members aged 21-26, myself, the Chief Executive, International Commissioner and Manager of International Affairs met to consider the programme for the conference, how we would gain the views of members prior to attending, seek the views of the Board of Trustees on some of the key resolutions and how we would generally prepare and conduct ourselves during the conference.

Those interested can learn more about the governance of the World Organisation by visiting their website. I have to say that having listened to each of the participants as they shared their reasons for attending and personal things they hope to get out of the conference I was exceptionally impressed and inspired by both their thoughtfulness and desire to make a difference. All bodes well for an exciting week in January.

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