CEO's blog | Step Up To Serve – A Golden Opportunity

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I’m excited to attend the launch of Step Up To Serve today with two of our inspirational young members, Ben Morante and Kayleigh Place. 

Step Up To Serve is a cross-party and cross-sector national initiative that aims to increase the number of young people taking part in social action across the UK.

The campaign is focused on young people between the ages of 10 and 20 with a goal to double the number of young people taking part in social action to over 50% by 2020. That’s around an additional 1.7 million young people engaging in social action for the first time.

As the largest co-educational youth movement in the UK, The Scout Association clearly has a central role to play in achieving this ambitious goal. Indeed, the aspirations of the campaign are completely aligned to our 2018 Vision where we aim to continue growing, reflect the communities in which we live, be shaped by young people and make a positive impact in our communities.

Step Up to Serve is a golden opportunity and we must seize it.

As part of the campaign, pledges will be made by leaders across business, education, faith, youth and voluntary sectors. The Scout Association’s pledges are as follows:

  • I will step up and help all young people to have every opportunity to serve others by... supporting an extra 62,000 young people to become involved in Scouting, empowering half a million young people to take social action by 2020.
  • I will step up and help all young people to have every opportunity to serve others by...creating a new strategic objective for The Scout Association to increase the positive impact we have in our communities.
  • I will step up and help all young people to have every opportunity to serve others by...recruiting an additional 14,000 adult volunteers by 2020, allowing half a million young people to take social action through Scouting.

Overwhelming support

In my experience it is an exceptional achievement to pull off that rare feat of securing support from all the major party leaders, which Step Up To Serve has done. Championed by the Prince of Wales, the campaign has forged a coalition across civil society, from educational institutions such as schools, further education colleges and universities to businesses. But why the overwhelming support?

It’s because of the consensus around the innate value of non-formal learning (‘learning by doing’) in improving life chances. There is also a conviction that youth social action instils an appreciation of helping others at the most habit-forming years of young people’s lives. It improves life outcomes, enhances employability and develops skills that equip them for later in life.

A true representation of young people

Youth social action is also good for business; social action builds skills that are valued by employers, such as optimism, determination and emotional intelligence.

This week new research by the CIPD, Youth social action and transitions into work: what role for employers?, showed youth social action programmes are a good opportunity for employees to develop their leadership and people management skills and better understand how to relate to the next generation. They are also seen to increase employees' motivation and long-term commitment to the organisation.

Scouting has thousands of young people engaged in social action like Ben and Kayleigh, who give time to improve the world around them through fundraising, volunteering, supporting communities following adverse weather conditions (such as floods), befriending and mentoring people or campaigning to improve the lives of others.

Ben and Kayleigh are the true representation of young people in the UK today; not a media stereotype that all too often demonises youth, as opposed to championing young people so that they can thrive and reach their full potential.

We have the resounding support of civil society leaders to dramatically increase the number of young people, from all communities, to get involved social action. We need to capitalise on that goodwill and the momentum generated by the campaign to convert that in to actions that achieve a step change. For our part, Scouting will step up to the plate.

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