Blog | A year in the life of the UK Youth Commissioner!
How is it that a year can seem like such a long time ago, and yet has gone so quickly? On this day last year, my life was literally changing before my eyes. After a month of preparation and training, the movement were being informed of my appointment as the UK Youth Commissioner, and to say life would never quite be the same again would be an understatement!
Taking on a national role within the Scout Association has been one of the most educational experiences of my life. You have this responsibility to lead on the strategic planning of the movement, whilst still being visible to members as much as possible, and of course consulting on your proposed vision for the future. One day you’re speaking at an event in the Houses of Parliament in front of MPs, CEOs of educational charities and other youth organisations; the next day you’re running sessions for adult volunteers within Scouting, not only trying to share the resources and expertise of Headquarters but, most importantly, to find out what they want and need to ensure Scouting, particularly YouthShaped Scouting, is a success on their patch. Overall though, the most fun days are ones where I get to talk directly with other young people and hear their experiences in Scouting. Our Movement is full of stories, and it’s these stories that motivate me so much.
It’s an incredibly empowering position to be in, knowing that the decisions you make and discussions that you are part of are changing the future of Scouting across the whole of the UK, helping it become more accessible, more relevant, safer, enjoyed by even more young people...The list could go on and on. This feeling of pride and ownership of Scouting needs to be experienced by all of our young people, as they have the opportunity to shape their own Scouting in partnership with adult volunteers.
Why the Programme is so important in Youth Shaped Scouting
However, not every young person will have their opinion heard by being part of an Executive Committee, a County Team or a District Youth Forum, nor will they all be Youth Commissioners for their local area as, to be honest, the majority of young people might not even care about being involved in those sorts of roles/opportunities. That’s absolutely okay, it just reaffirms the fact that the most important platform for Youth Shaped Scouting is week in and week out within the sections. It provides the opportunity for young people to work with volunteers and contribute towards every part of their Programme, from planning their own international adventures to helping deliver a section meeting, and reviewing last term’s Programme. This is essential in keeping Scouting relevant to under 25s in 2015, and will really help ensure that every single young person in the Scout Association has the opportunity to have their voice heard and acted upon.
Yes, it’s important that we offer forums, and other mechanisms for young people to be involved on a District, County and National level, but these will only be successful and meaningful if we get Youth Shaped Scouting right at the grass roots, preparing younger sections to take on more responsibility and accountability for their Scouting as they progress into older sections. This way, by the time Network comes around, they are running their own projects, as well as getting involved as a volunteer as and when they are ready.
The most vital role in Scouting...
Which brings it down to this: every volunteer in Scouting is contributing to making Youth Shaped Scouting happen for young people, however I believe that section leaders are the backbone of Scouting; without them we would have no Movement and I would have nothing or nobody to support. Sometimes I am envious of their role and here is why…
Let’s take the example of our aim to grow Scouting. Whilst I absolutely love being part of the national team that supports and monitors the growth of Scouting across the whole of the UK, offering every young person the opportunity to experience life changing adventure through the Scouts, section leaders are the people who get to see it and live it.
Our section leaders, supporters and helpers are the ones who, at the end of the night, can watch their newest recruit going home with a big smile on their face, excitedly telling their parents and carers about the fun they have had at Cubs. They can say: ‘I know I have made an impact this evening’. That’s why as soon as I finish university I am so excited to get into a regular routine, meaning alongside my incredible role of UK Youth Commissioner, I will also have the time to consistently support a local Scout Group again…But first I have a few exams to pass!