Chief Commissioner's blog| An amazing week
A week of significant progress and change leaves Wayne inspired and confident that we will meet our Vision objectives.
Not only did we see the last rule inhibiting the inclusivity of Scouting removed, but my discussions with District Commissioners on Monday; visits on Sunday to the Muslim Scout Fellowship; new Muslim Scout sections in Heckmondwike; and the development project Group in Bradford all convinced me that we are poised to make significant progress in our bid to make Scouting for all.
A great testament
The Huffington Post described the introduction of our additional alternative Promise as ‘miraculously having the support of faith leaders and the secular bodies’. This is a great testament to the wide consultation with members and the hard work of volunteers and staff over the past 10 months; also thanks to a small number of people who laid the way in the preceding few years.
Off to a good start
As you may recall, my week got off to a good start with an opening session of the latest District Commissioners Support Day, which saw over 60 recently appointed DC’s joining us at Gilwell Park on Monday.
I planned various meetings for the day and had an opportunity to catch up with the senior Programme staff team before it became clear that our Promise announcement was being well received and I had to go at short notice to BBC Broadcasting House to pre-record the following day’s television and radio news. So started 24 hours of hectic activity; we were joined by our spokespeople, Matt Mills and Erin Billington and our fantastic media team, and the resulting news coverage was fantastic.
Further activity on Sunday included 14 local BBC Radio back-to-back interviews from the BBC studio in Salford, and Matt doing some pre-recorded interviews and an hour-long question and answer session with the guys from Avon Scout Radio in the evening.
Notwithstanding all the excitement from this activity, I can honestly say that my experience on Sunday left me inspired and convinced at the realistic prospects of us achieving Scouting for all, a key element of our Vision 2018 in terms of growth and reflecting our local communities.
I joined the management committee of the Muslim Scout Fellowship on the latest of their adult training residential weekends at Linnet Clough, Stockport. We discussed their development plans, experiences and ambitions and talked about ways in which we could increase the inclusivity of our most senior leadership teams. We also talked about a Muslim community that is increasingly pro-Scouting and sees us increasing the opportunities for young members of the community.
We then did a question and answer session with the 70 leaders on the course and again it was immensely inspiring to hear of their experiences as well as being able to discuss our Vision 2018 with them.
In a similar vein, I travelled to Dewsbury, near Bradford to join a funday for the opening of the Ansaar sections of the Heckmondwike Scout Group. Ansaar is an additional Cub Pack and Scout Troop within an existing group, Heckmondwike, which itself has a Beaver, Cub and Scout section. It was very impressive to see everybody having an exciting day’s activity despite the wet weather and working together to cook a backwoods meal and take part in other traditional Scouting skills.
Making the most of networks
Discussions with the leaders, parent volunteers and the leader of the Ansaar organisation provided a great insight into the opportunities we have to significantly grow Scouting within similar community networks.
Another Youth United project success
I finished my exciting day by joining the project board of the iScout Bradford initiative (a Youth United Foundation-funded project) to grow Scouting in some economically deprived areas of Bradford. The project is doing exceptionally well with six new Units registered, 16 adults recruited and 102 young people; significantly outperforming targets at this stage of the project, which is still only half way through.
Again, many interesting lessons have been learnt through the project, which we will be pulling together as part of the sharing of good practice. A theme, however, coming from this and other discussions recently has been the significant benefits of after-school provisions, whether in academies or other schools, and this is something I will pursue in the coming weeks.
All in all an utterly amazing week leaving me truly inspired and confident of achieving our ambitions to grow Scouting in a way that ensures all young people who can and wish to benefit from what we offer will get the opportunity to do so.