Slowly but surely


A busy week of catch up meetings with friends and colleagues, a trip to Zurich on business, Cardiff and London for Scouting and the chance to catch up on some sleep!

First off, time for a meeting with Derek before a fleeting visit to Zurich on business and a train journey to Cardiff for the latest of our UK meetings.

This is the regular meeting of the Chairs, Chief Commissioners and Senior staff from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and some of us from UK Headquarters, where we share information and consider the various strategic objectives to ensure they continue to be UK-inclusive.

It is also an opportunity for several side meetings to discuss specific issues and a chance for us to welcome the recently-appointed Chief Commissioner of Northern Ireland, Colin Lammey to the team. 

Catching Up

Alan, Derek and I stayed on for a further catch up before I hitch a lift with Derek to Bristol Parkway Station and head back to London for a further couple of days of meetings, including lunch with Rob, Regional Commissioner for East of England and coffee with the chair of a major disability charity for whom I act as mentor (I’ve mentioned before that this is a mutually-rewarding partnership).

Better ways to manage complaints

In the evening I catch up with Andrew Wellbeloved. Along with Keren Mallinson, Director of Corporate Services, Andrew is leading work on two key areas: our management of safeguarding within the Movement and the way we deal with complaints between adults; two time-consuming issues that effect us locally.

Work is progressing on both of these with the plan being to share the draft proposals with the sub-committees for further consultation in the new year. Not content with these two projects, Andrew is also chair of the London development project and a search group for a County Commissioner so, needless to say, we have much to discuss.

Supporting the Christian faith groups

An early start on Saturday catching up with Sheridan, our Diversity Adviser on the progress of our plans looking at improving inclusivity in Scouting. We then head to BP House for a meeting with representatives of the four national Christian Scout and Guide Fellowships and a few colleagues, as we finalise their transition to Scout Active Support Units before the end of this year, and discuss our wider work in supporting leaders in delivering the faith elements of our programme.

Significant progress with National Scout Activity Centres

In the past few days we have also been able to announce the latest phase of our National Centres strategy which has seen Great Tower in the Lake District and Woodhouse Park near Bristol become National Centres.

Personally, I am very excited by these partnerships with local Scouting which are the latest stages of a vision we shared in February 2004 and which I first got involved with shortly after becoming a Trustee in September 2001 – who said things don’t happen quickly in Scouting?

It is fair to say that the initial announcement in 2004 was not universally popular, because it involved the potential sale of centres not considered strategic.

Nearly seven years on I think that most people would consider this strand of our strategy, like so much more, to be highly successful with just two of the initial centres closing to primarily Scout use (Kingsdown and Perrywood), and the remainder being either sold to local Scouting or continuing under the original lease arrangements from Headquarters for the time being.

With nearly £5 million raised to date from the sale of the centres, the money is being invested in increased activity facilities at each of the National Centres (excluding Gilwell) and we are particularly excited that we have received planning consent for a redevelopment of Youlbury which is costed at around £4 million.

In addition, over £10 million has been invested over the past few years in the facilities at Gilwell Park including new activities, a fantastic mixed use for the Lid, three new accommodation units and new toilets.

As well as providing first-class facilities for our own members, our centres provide an excellent shop window for Scouting as they appeal to increasing numbers of school and other youth groups and users giving them an insight into the very best that Scouting can offer. We are very conscious that we still have further to go to make it a UK network, but keep watching.

More to do

For me, this is just one example of the changes that have been made over the past few years that ensure that Scouting is sound, focused, relevant and ideally placed to fulfil our other aspirations of growing, being youth-led and diverse. Now if only we could move a little quicker...

Back to your questions and 'that pipeline' next week.

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Inline _Downe

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