Chief Commissioner's Blog | Making Scouting for all a reality

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By Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner

Scouting is growing. That much is abundantly clear from our latest census figures, which show that there are now more young people and adults in the movement. A phenomenal 7,900 joined last year and across the board we are up by 5%, bringing our Movement to 573,000. This is a superb achievement. 

But even better, we are becoming more diverse. It is 25 years since girls and women were first welcomed into all sections, and fittingly we are able to report that 25% of the membership is now female – that’s 144,000 members in total (including 92,000 youth members) , proving emphatically that Scouting is no longer just for boys. 

Success breeds success 

Eleven years of consecutive growth is no mean feat, and this is thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of volunteers around the country. When we talk about Scouting in a positive way and demonstrate the powerful difference we make in young people’s lives, more people join. Success breeds success.   

In amongst all the numbers, one thing stood out for me in particular. More girls are joining Cubs than any other section, which is welcome news in that this the centenary year. That fantastic mix of adventurous activities, residentials - in other words, a genuinely varied and exciting Programme - is really proving attractive to young people and their parents.    

Sharing the message more widely  

But believe it or not, there are still many members of the public (over 50% according to some research) who are unaware we have girls in Scouting. That’s why we need to continue to talk about it locally and nationally. We are only able to truly achieve our plan, Scouting for all, if we get the message across that each and every child in this country is welcome to join. 

One thing’s for sure. We cannot take success for granted or afford to rest on our laurels. More young people in Scouting means we need more adult volunteers, and despite 14,000 more adults registering last year we still need more to cope with the increased demand. 

That’s why we need to continue to share the benefits of Scouting with friends and in our networks – showing the fun, skills, social contacts and incredible reward that comes with being an adult volunteer. Invite a friend to come and see Scouting for themselves and above all, try and make Scouting visible in your community. 

Thank you!

We know that retention, and with it growth, comes through quality Programmes so congratulations to all of you who are delivering excellent Scouting across the UK and making it available to yet more young people. This work does not go unnoticed and it’s thanks to you that Scouting is delivering life changing adventure to so many young people. We’re helping build character, broaden horizons and helping young people gain the skills that will help them succeed in life and at a time when the wider community is valuing its impact. While we know it can be tough especially over the past twelve months, what could be more rewarding?

Take a look at some of the highlights from the 2016 census here.

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