Blog| What is social action?

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Teaching digital skills to older people. Creating a community garden. Helping out at a kitchen for the homeless. If it helps your community and you, it’s social action.  

Social action is doing something that will help others in the long term. It can include formal or informal volunteering, giving time and money, working on your own or in a group. It’s not-for-profit but it helps you too: making a difference to others improves confidence, life skills and independence.

Social action is buzz phrase at the moment but it’s something that Scouts have been doing for 107 years: ‘help other people’ is a lynchpin in the Scout Promise. Everyday thousands of children, teenagers and adults demonstrate social action, empowered by their membership of Scouts.

As Prince Charles launches Step Up 2 Serve, a campaign to get more young people involved in community work, we wanted to shine a light on Scout social action heroes. They show that social action comes in many different forms.

Bowden Scouts, Market Harborough

When a 92-year-old’s allotment was attacked by arsonists, 22 Scouts and their five leaders came to the rescue and spent hours clearing up broken glass, burnt wood and other debris, and even secured a free shed from a local DIY warehouse. Without their intervention, Peter Pickering would have had to give up the allotment plot he had held for 40 years.  

Jessica, 15, Explorer Scout, Stoke Climsland Scout Group

Being a member of Scouts helped Jessica rebuild her confidence after being bullied at school. Now she volunteers in community sports and with St John Ambulance Badgers. In 2012, her work teaching football and stewarding at rugby matches was recognised with a Community Action Through Sport award and she was picked to carry the Olympic torch through her Devon town. She plans to become a primary school teacher so she can help prevent bullying.

Great Ouse Explorer Scout Unit, Milton Keynes

This creative group designed and built a garden for the physiotherapy department at Milton Keynes Hospital after applying funding from MK Youth Bank. Alongside other local Scouts during Scout Community Week 2013, they also started a project to renovate one of the biggest underpasses in Milton Keynes, including clearing dead shrubbery, designing murals and planting four grass beds in order to make more pleasant for workers to use.

Ben, 11, Scout, 2nd East London Scout Group

After the devastating Haiyan typhoon hit, Ben, who has family living in the Philippines, inspired his Group to contact the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC). They started a collection of money, food, clothing and medicine in their community, which raised over £1,200. 

Josh, 17, Young Leader, 9th Hartlepool

Josh has been in the Scouts since he was six, and became a Young Leader at 14. Not only does he volunteer with his Group’s Beaver Colony but he gives his time up outside Scouting too. Josh volunteers for a ‘young inspectors’ scheme in Hartlepool, visiting and improving services that young people use including doctors surgeries.

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