Blog | Wear Their Necker leads to new volunteer role

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During #YouShape Month 2017, Wear Their Necker saw young people taking over the roles of some of Scouting’s national HQ volunteers. James Newton was one of them.

‘When I saw Wear Their Necker being advertised at Gilwell Park, I jumped at the chance to get an insight into a HQ role,’ James says. He’s the sort of proactive person who seizes opportunities with both hands: alongside training to be a teacher, leading Colchester Scout Band, and volunteering as the County Youth Commissioner for Essex, he had always had one eye on becoming a HQ volunteer. ‘It was a gateway into roles that otherwise don’t come up very often,’ he continues. ‘I have a strong background in training, so Adult Support interested me and I applied to spend a day in Kester’s shoes.’

Kester Sharpe is the outgoing UK Commissioner for Adult Support (she’s soon to take up her new role as Deputy UK Chief Commissioner). The Adult Support Core Team are a group of HQ volunteers and staff members who provide guidance and support to all adults involved in Scouting – and as such, they have wide-ranging roles that impact over 100,000 people.

Kester, too, was excited to be part of Wear Their Necker. ‘I was very keen to be involved,’ she says. ‘I hoped it that it would be an opportunity for someone to see "behind the scenes" of a HQ volunteer role. I was also hoping that the person who wore my necker would bring new ideas to the meeting and give a fresh outlook on things.’

Over many other candidates, James was selected to take part in Wear Their Necker, and was paired up with Kester. He was invited to attend a meeting of the Adult Support Core Team at Baden-Powell House, central London, and to take over Kester’s role for the day.

‘I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as it got closer to the time, it started to feel real,’ James says. ‘I got some emails and papers through about the meeting, so I was able to read up on what was going to happen on the day, which was really useful.’ As the day of the meeting arrived, James got to London early, and sat down to meet Kester and talk everything through before they went into the meeting.

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‘James really impressed me,’ Kester says. ‘He had done lots of preparation, reading all the papers in advance and asking questions ahead of the day to clarify his understanding.’ This stood him in excellent stead as they entered the meeting – something that could have been daunting, but which James took in his stride.

‘There were some influential people in the room, but the atmosphere was really relaxed. Everyone knew I was going to be there, and they listened and included me,’ James says. ‘I wasn’t just a token candidate. By the end I was chairing discussions, leading the staff and volunteers through proposals and bringing in my own ideas. Getting the chance to chair some of the meeting was really cool.’

It was precisely this which impressed Kester the most. ‘During the meeting, he played a full part, contributing to the meeting as any of the team members do,’ she says. ‘In particular, James has experience of training delivery from both inside and outside of Scouting, which we found very useful.’

As a result of Wear Their Necker, James was invited by Kester to join the Adult Support Core Team. ‘He will join a group that includes the UK Commissioner for Adult Support, a Regional Commissioner, another young person and staff members from the Volunteering team,’ Kester explains. ‘The team decide on policy and strategy relating to adults in Scouting, including the adult training scheme.' 

For James, this was better news than he ever could have imagined. ‘I was delighted and shocked!’ he says. ‘To hear that the HQ volunteers really believed that I brought valuable insight to the discussions was a real boost to my confidence. I don’t think I would have been able to be involved at a national level so quickly, had I not had this experience. I can’t wait to get involved with some of the projects that are already happening.’

Did you take part in #YouShape or Wear Their Necker? Join the national conversation by completing this short online form, and tell the UK Youth Commissioner team about your experiences by emailing dukyc@scouts.org.uk

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