Are we all still in this together?
Our Public Affairs (PA) team attended each of the political party conferences over the past month; Wayne caught up with them at the Conservative conference in Birmingham.
A sign of our standing
As you might imagine, the party conferences are a bit of a bunfight with hundreds of organisations battling for the attention of policy makers. It's testament to our high standing and the tireless work of our PA team of Sam and Jack that our fringe debate was attended by Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society and Councillor Tony Ball of the Local Government Association. We also attracted a full room, with standing room only, and it wasn’t just for the lunch!
'Are we still in this together? What is the role of the private, public and voluntary sectors in supporting young people' was the debating topic and it enabled us to make all our key points and generate an interesting debate.
The issues included:
- The importance of Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) and the benefits to employers, employee and voluntary organisations in order to increase the number of volunteers in Scouting.
- Scout Groups are struggling as a result of local authorities increasing rents and rates in order to increase their income. Some have had to close or increase membership fees in order to make ends meet and we consider this to be counterproductive.
- We welcome any effort to try to get more young people involved in volunteering and community activities. However, there is a concern that young people who have spent a summer doing National Citizen Service NCS will be viewed more favourably by employers, universities etc than those who have done 10+ years of volunteering and community work in the Scouts.
- The government is focussed on traditional learning and school reform but we’d like more recognition of informal learning and the ways in which youth organisations like the Scouts help young people prepare for the world of work.
- It is a common misconception that volunteering is free. We provide high-quality training and support for 120,000 locally-sourced volunteers, which we estimate to be worth over £5.5m to the UK economy.
Scouts Speak Up
These events are a real winner with our young people and policy makers so why not organise a local event with your Councillors and MPs? Get involved in local Question Time events.
And the conclusion?
We enjoyed positive reactions at each of the three party conferences. Our messages were well heard and we garnered lots of support and goodwill amongst policy makers from all three parties. We just need to seize the opportunity to make ourselves heard with our solutions rather than presenting lists of problems as others seem to do.