Plenty of tweaking


... Of speeches that is, if you followed me last week, with four speeches to make to four very different audiences. First up on Friday were 700 members of Rotary’s District 1110 who had invited me to speak at their conference in Jersey on Friday.

Welcoming new DCs

But before then, I was at Gilwell on Monday for the latest of our regular induction days for District Commissioners. An opportunity for those new to the role, or looking for a refresher, to look around Gilwell, meet many of the staff teams there to help, put names to faces and to find out what help is available to them. I also took the opportunity to catch up again with several of the staff teams to check progress on a number of initiatives they are working on and to agree some next steps with things like the Ambassadors initiative, fundraising generally and our internal communications work.

I took the opportunity of visiting 'the other Island' of Jersey on Friday to see Richard, Chair of the Development Grants Board, and to catch up with him on the Board’s work especially in monitoring the 36 large projects (primarily Local Development Officers) that they are currently funding across the UK. We also discussed progress on the work being done following the local HQ funding pilot that I have previously mentioned and to see what actions can be taken centrally to support local building and maintenance projects.

Rotary International and Scouting

I was in Jersey as a guest of Rotary’s 1110 District (covering Hampshire, East Dorsey, South Wiltshire and the Channel Islands) having been invited to share with them Scouting’s success story and how Rotary might learn from some of the steps we have taken. It was also an opportunity of course to update them on our current activities and to celebrate some of the projects we share such as Shelterbox (more about that next week).

For us, local Rotary Clubs are often a source of funding and wider support in local communities – well worth taking the trouble to go and chat to if you ever get the chance.

Our own international activities

After a dash from the conference, I made it to Gilwell in time for Friday evening to join a few colleagues from the UK involved in World and European Scouting for one of our occasional discussions and information sharing sessions. Subjects this time included preparations for the World Scout Conference in January, whether or not the UK should bid for an international event, how we support UK Scouting outside of the UK and an interesting discussion on what the role of the World Organisation should be in this age. Lots of food for thought.

It’s the 15th so it must be the East of England

On Saturday, we were in the East of England Region for the latest of our DC/GSL Conferences which followed the now-familiar, successful pattern – with me having notes all over the place reminding me where we are so I don’t make the fateful mistake of saying the wrong place when I speak!

The audience got particularly excited in the Q&A session when the suggestion was made by one of the discussion groups that we should take paid for advertising on national TV for an edited version of the new Think you Know adult recruitment video. Whilst it sounds a great idea (and the audience didn’t like the answer we gave!) it is something that we periodically consider but have discounted to date for a large number of reasons, and not just the cost of a sustained TV advertising campaign.

All the evidence is that we get our message across better in local communities, in a more sustained way. A further challenge with a national campaign is to ensure consistency of local experience when people respond and we also know that experience of central “want to join” enquiries is very mixed, with large numbers still not recognising that they have been followed up, and much lower conversion rates than when local approaches are initiated.

Certainly some work to be done about providing the tools (radio adverts, edited clip of the video) for use within your own community which might improve your profile as part of a wider campaign by you?

Training with the Queen's Scout Working Party

Well, to be honest, being their guest speaker at dinner, during their training weekend which this year was at Blackwell Adventure, Birmingham Scouts' fantastic activity centre. As I’ve mentioned previously, the QSWP is a national Scout Active Support unit, which all Queen's Scouts are able to join, and which supports numerous national and local events.

I’m also keen that we utilise the tremendous skills and experience demonstrated in gaining their QSA to encourage younger members to achieve theirs as part of our plans to raise the profile of the Award.

Julie and I had great fun on Saturday evening, although having heard about their navigation skills I’m no longer so sure about those 'tremendous skills' ... maybe we need to look at the Award!

And another week begins

Another Sunday evening at Gilwell as we start the induction tomorrow of Debbie and Kester, the new Adult Support team and we visit the Speaker's private apartment at Westminster for the annual Speaker's Reception, and a very different audience for my fourth speech of the long weekend.

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