Blog | Growing the movement
Scouting would be nothing without adult volunteers – but recruitment isn’t always easy. Sam Hankin, Hitchin District, shares some great ideas for growing the movement in your area.
It’s a Saturday in June, and the centre of Hitchin, a Hertfordshire market town, is filled with hundreds of people. The drizzle hasn’t dampened anyone’s spirits as they sing around a huge campfire.
This was the culmination of over a year of effort, led by Sam Hankin, Assistant District Commissioner for PR in Hitchin District.
'We wanted to do something which would boost Scouting in the area,' Sam says. 'It was all about recruiting volunteers, and making the whole community more aware of what goes on in Scouting.'
A group from the District was assembled. 'We came up with lots of ideas,' Sam says of these initial meetings. They streamlined their plans and #SCOUTitOUT was born.
Vital to the success of the project was getting local Scout Groups on board. Over a fortnight, 14 Groups opened their doors and ran drop-in activities. This totalled almost 32 hours of free, accessible activity, from archery to cooking.
Young people who had never been involved in Scouting came along night after night. And while they took part in the activities, District volunteers were on hand to talk to their parents and guardians.
'We let the leaders get on with leading the session, doing what they do best,' says Sam. 'It wasn’t their job to convince parents.' Having extra Scouting members at the sessions meant they had lots of time to chat with potential new volunteers.
'We gave people information about all sort of volunteer roles, from being a Group Scout Leader to helping run the Scout Shop,' says Sam. 'We put a real emphasis on flexible volunteering.'
Alongside the open evenings was a massive town-wide effort to raise the profile of local Scouting, through local radio and the paper. 'We got 16 different articles in the local paper,' says Sam. The stories reached over 35,000 local homes.
Around town, the Scouts organised a Necker Hunt, displaying neckers in 20 shop windows. The community were invited to find them all to win a prize. 'It was a real conversation starter with parents,' says Sam. 'We could ask if they’d done the hunt, and then move onto talking about volunteering.'
On the middle Saturday, when the hype was at its peak, Scouting took over Hitchin town centre, with a climbing wall, stalls with information about volunteering, and a roaring campfire, negotiated with the local council.
Across the #SCOUTitOUT fortnight, 61 people expressed an interest in volunteering, and of thosearound 20 are now active in the District, including three new Group Scout Leaders. In general, Sam says that Scouting is more recognised by the community, and that parents are more willing to chip in and help now.
'It was lots of work!' says Sam. 'Don’t underestimate how long it takes to get things done. I was lucky to have such a great team to work with. I’m really proud of what we achieved in Hitchin.'
Stay up-to-date by following Hitchin on Twitter. If you’d like help to grow Scouting in your area, the Regional Development Service has dedicated staff around the country, and free resources available via the Print Shop.