Getting to know Manchester
Scouting in Manchester is organised through three Scout Counties. During an enjoyable weekend, Wayne learnt more about these Counties and how we can help to develop Scouting opportunities there.
Good use of my time
During my various visits around the UK, I try to make the most of being in a particular area.On this occasion I started my weekend on Friday, meeting with Chris Ayres, a new member of the Operations Committee.
Chris was formerly a director of De Vere Group and managed its Greens Leisure Centre business, and is something of an expert in commercial management. We had a fascinating discussion about how we could use technologies and concepts to help recruit more Scout volunteers and look after those we already have.
After my visits on Sunday afternoon I drove a little further north to meet with John Bevan in Cumbria. John was a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees and he and his wife Pat are heavily involved in local Scouting. As you might imagine, we had a wide variety of topics to discuss.
Greater Manchester West
Middlewood Scout Camp was a great place to get started on Saturday morning. The site was full of attendees and included the 100th Salford Scout Group. Greg, the Group Scout Leader, discussed how the Group has successfully recruited a leadership team of 14 from past members and parents, which is enabling the Group to flourish within Salford.
The County was also hosting its first Explorer Scout event. We joined the leaders and Explorer Scouts as they set about getting the districts to work together and continue with their success.
One of the District Commissioners, Paul, and his group were camping during the weekend, and being proud of their more traditional approach, Paul was keen to discuss Scouting in the 21st Century.
Greater Manchester East
It was off to Linnet Clough next. Here in the County site for Greater Manchester East, over 120 adults were gathered for the ‘Scouting for Adults’ weekend.
I hosted a Q&A forum attended by most participants.
This offered the opportunity to discuss our vision and strategy and to address some particular issues of concern. It was also great to hear that the County is about to open three new Groups in Manchester’s inner city, where Scouting has been largely absent for too long.
Great endorsement from the Chief Constable
In the evening we were joined by Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and former Venture Scout Leader. A strong advocate of Scouting, Peter joined us to discuss the importance of Scouting and its impact on the local community. He also helped present 28 Chief Scout’s Gold Awards.
Working with District Commissioners
At the end of a very busy day I met with 30 District Commissioners. This was the first time they had gathered as a group, and it offered the opportunity for an in-depth explanation of our strategy: what we are doing and why. It also helped to address questions regarding some of the operational issues that confront local Scouting.
Greater Manchester North
Pike View Hike (www.pikeviewhike.co.uk) was started 10 years ago by 6 people, including District Commissioner, Paul Mather. It is now organised by a small team led by Mike Marsh and has strong links with the Bolton mountain rescue team, which is a great partnership.
This year saw more than 320 participants in 79 teams of Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts who were taking part in the three hike challenges around Rivington Pike. It was great meeting with the many participants and to hear about their fun and adventure.
It is great to see events like this flourish. They really do bring together so much of what is behind our success, including young people demonstrating skills they learn in regular meetings, from map reading and compass work to the benefits of teamwork and leadership.
All of this is done with leaders either walking with them in the case of the Cub Scouts or shadowing from a distance and manning the bases.
It’s an incredibly sophisticated operation that Pike View has developed to track participants, estimate times and to ensure that everybody completes the event safely. This was a great way to end my brief insight into Scouting in Greater Manchester.
Meeting the County Commissioners
Finally, I joined the three County Commissioners for the tail-end of their day-long meeting to discuss the wider strategy. In particular, a meeting with the County Commissioners of Greater Manchester and the Regional Commissioner provided a chance to discuss ways in which we can support each of them to develop Scouting further within the area.