Getting our message to key influencers
From the first ever Cub Scout meeting held in Portcullis House (the 'office' part of the Palace of Westminster) to the AGM of the All Party Parliamentary Scout Group (a group of cross-party MPs joined by their common interest in supporting Scouting), who had invited several Explorer Scouts to join them for a debate on 'Value in volunteering: how can we create a culture of youth volunteering in the UK', Scouting took over Westminster last Tuesday.
The day culminated in the annual Speaker's Reception, where 150 Members were joined by nearly 40 MPs (a record attendance), presenting us with an excellent opportunity to lobby MPs and get our message across to them.
Key messages for key influencers
We are conscious that MPs are lobbied continuously by a variety of interest groups, each arguing that their cause is more important than others.
We wanted to make clear that, while money given to us will of course be put to good use, it is not particularly the Government’s cheque book that we are after, but their help in a number of other ways.
Our key 3 asks were these:-
Spread the word – By speaking positively about Scouting within their communities and at social and political gatherings, they can help us get the message across that Scouting is a success story in the 21st century. We are enjoying our 6th consecutive year of growth and particularly experiencing record numbers of teenagers wishing to join.
Myth busters – MPs are in a particularly strong position to address a number of the myths that surround Scouting and working with young people, notably that CRB enquiries are a barrier to volunteering.
This is absolutely not true, but it is a myth often cited by those with a different agenda.
Scouting has undertaken checks on backgrounds for a great many years, and MPs can certainly help us ensure that the system of vetting is efficient, but it would help if they stopped percolating this myth that CRBs are a hurdle – similarly, it is not true that Scout Leaders are regularly sued, and indeed this is not a hurdle to volunteering either.
Persuade employers – When meeting with groups of employers we asked MPs to make the point that volunteering to help Scouting is not just good for their local community, but brings a number of benefits to the employee as well as to the employer in respect of a motivated and well-trained workforce.
We reassured MPs that with just a little help from them, we can ensure that our unique brand of Everyday Adventure could be enjoyed by all young people not presently able to access it.
It occurs to me that you may wish to take these messages forward within your own communities, whether to local councillors, mayors or others that you invite to your events over the coming months, and ensure that they too take away key messages from their experience with you.