Community Impact Award winner | Jack Barber

Jack Barber

We asked 22-year-old Scout Network member and Beaver Leader Jack Barber to tell us about volunteering, Youth Shaped Scouting and his award-winning Community Impact project.

 

TSA: Hey Jack! Thanks for having a chat with us. So, how long have you been involved in Scouting?

Jack: About eight-and-a-half years. I joined this Group, 109th Leicester (Countesthorpe), as a Cub. I started my Young Leader qualification when I was still in Scouts, and did my adult leadership qualification aged 18. I’ve been the Section Leader at Beavers for about three years. 

Why do you think it’s important that younger people volunteer with Scouts?

I think that I can potentially relate more to the young people, and them to me, because I’m closer to their age and experiences. As a Young Leader, I noticed that the young people I was working with were sometimes more comfortable talking to me than the older adult leaders.

Also, my memories of being a youth member of Scouting are relatively fresh, so I can use some of that first-hand knowledge when planning our activities and Programme. When I was younger, I wanted to lead my own experiences, and the more I got involved, the more I felt like I was getting something out of it. We try to have a really Youth Shaped approach with our Beavers, because it’s not so exciting for them if us leaders decide everything. When they tell us their ideas and we make them happen, that really motivates them. 

Do you feel like volunteering has helped you develop?

When I see the quiet Beavers coming through the door, I know that I was once that young person. I was shy, and I was reluctant to do things, but I’m no longer that person - now I’m the sort of person who want to get involved with everything. That confidence has developed with the support and respect of other adults, as well as from the young people I work with. They have really helped me to develop my skills as a leader, and I feel like I get just as much out of it as the kids do.

How have you and your Beavers engaged with the local community?

I’m a driving force behind our Group's Community Impact work. I’m really keen for us to be a presence in the village, and that our Scouts are always doing something positive for the local community. We recently put on a bonfire night, and we regularly run fun events and galas. I think it’s really important that we are visible because we can play an important role in creating a happier community with less division, connecting people and making a difference to ourselves and others. 

This year, we focussed our Community Impact efforts on A Million Hands, with our Beavers choosing dementia as their topic. We wanted to get into places where you wouldn’t normally see children, like residential homes, and really connect with the wider community. Our project was a really positive experience for everyone involved, and we were extremely pleased to be named A Million Hands Project of the Year 2016. 

What would you say to another young person who wants to start volunteering?

My mantra is always ‘Get out there and give it a try.’ When you work with a young person and they’ve developed with your help, there is nothing more rewarding. And once you’ve seen the difference you’ve made to one young person, you start to recognise it in them all. When my Beavers move up to Cubs and Scouts in a couple of years’ time, I’ll know that they’ve had an amazing time, and that they are getting out of it what I did at their age. There is honestly nothing more rewarding. You have to try it, or you’ll never know that feeling.

You might feel that you’re too young, but it’s not about how old you are; it’s about what you can do. Occasionally I get funny looks, or parents who are expecting someone much older to be running the section, but my actions speak for me. They quickly see that I’m doing a good job, and come to respect me as a leader and a volunteer. Age doesn’t matter in Scouting: if you’re 20 or if you’re 70, there’s a role for everybody. 

 

Thanks Jack! Read more about Jack and his Beavers’ award-winning Community Impact project, taking action on dementia for A Million Hands.

Find out more about UK Scout Network and the great opporunities available to Scout Network members.

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