National Citizenship Service, Scouting and more
Scouting has been keen to contribute to the early stage pilots of the National Citizenship Service (NCS) which aims to act as a gateway to the Big Society for many young people by supporting them to develop the skills and attitudes they need to get more engaged with their communities and become active and responsible citizens.
Our initial support includes providing a trustee for the Challenge Trust that developed and piloted the concept, as well as the training of some of their staff.
However, as the programme has developed and is being piloted nationally, we believe that there are more cost-effective ways to achieve these ambitions through the regular programmes of existing organisations such as Scouting, who have being doing this in a more sustained way for over 100 years.
We have made a conscious decision not to become involved in tendering for delivery (not least because our volunteers are fully committed to providing residential experiences on a very frequent basis for our growing number of youth members), although we do believe that we offer great opportunities for young people participating in the scheme to make an ongoing volunteering commitment in a supported way once completed.
We are also of course happy to offer national and local activity centres and other facilities.
Government help is not about cash
We took advantage of our meeting however to re-emphasise that we feel the objectives of the NCS could be more effectively achieved particularly through increased engagement in a number of ways, not least:
- Government practical support of volunteering, particular employer-supported volunteering with the civil service leading by example (unlike the present, inconsistent approach).
- Streamlining of the vetting system to allow portability and remove the need for regular renewals. The savings could fund additional development.
Reaching those we do not presently reach
For our part we are keen to offer Scouting to those young people in more disadvantaged areas who, for whatever reason, do not presently see Scouting as something of benefit to them. As such, we are exploring several pilots in these areas as well as potential partnerships with others such as The Prince's Trust in the sure belief that by pooling resources and knowledge we can achieve more.
We will continue our efforts to champion the real difference Scouting makes to the lives of young people and local communities through government and other organisations. We are passionate that by working with others we can ensure that even more young people access the unique benefits that Scouting offers.