Laughing about myths and misperceptions


I spent Friday in the offices at Gilwell which is always a great opportunity to catch up with a variety of people.

It was also Colin Lammey’s induction. Colin was recently appointed Chief Commissioner of Northern Ireland, so he got to meet a variety of the team and was brought up to speed with the various projects and support available to him. Hopefully he didn’t leave too daunted after the day’s meetings and various committee meetings on Saturday!

Keeping in touch with supporters

Derek and I met some of our marketing team to discuss a number of proposed projects aimed at improving our contacts with former members and supporters and some ideas to re-engage with them. This is a proven model for many charities and other international Scout Movements but is something that we have struggled to do in the past few years... no pressure then. The team have a number of exciting ideas that they were looking to test out and you will be hearing more of in due course.

Exploring opportunities with the Freemasons

We also took the opportunity at lunch time to entertain Laura, CEO of the Grand Charity and Nigel, General Secretary of the United Grand Lodges of England along with Tony Harvey who acts as a link person being a member of both organisations, to discuss progress since our last meeting. It was also the first time we had met with Laura and so we were interested in learning more about the Grand Charity. It receives all its funding from personal donations from Freemasons across England and Wales and is one of four charities that distribute these funds. They have been particularly pleased with the first two years of the five year funding initiative totalling £500,000 that the Grand Charity has committed to supporting the development of Scouting, as have we.

We also discussed how we could further this partnership in an informal way locally and were interested in a number of reports we had received from local groups and a District who had contacted the local Freemason’s Lodge and were pleased with the practical support they had been offered. This could be in ways such as Treasurer or other officers for Executive Committees or wider support for volunteering or re-engagement with the Movement.

The meeting was also another opportunity to dismiss those myths about our respective organisations...

The benefits of working together

Having travelled with Colin into London for the evening we joined Jill and Eleanor, Chief Commissioners of Wales and Scotland respectively.

As well as regularly meeting with individual members, I like to join those with similar roles too. Meeting with the Chief Commissioners of the three countries gives us a great opportunity to discuss particular aspects that are unique to them, while sharing ideas and resources across the UK.

It's something I personally feel very strongly about and it was therefore useful to have the opportunity to explore some of the hurdles that occasionally get in the way of this. We had a good laugh as well!

A long productive day of meetings

An early start on Saturday morning with a meeting of the HQ Appointments sub-committee at 8am. This committee acts in a similar way as your own local Appointments Advisory Committees to oversee all national appointments and the induction and training of members of the various national teams. This includes the recruitment, selection and induction of Regional, County and Area Commissioners across the UK.

Next up was the quarterly meeting of the Operations sub-committee with a wide variety of topics on the agenda. These included the final report of the group looking at the review of the Fundamentals of Scouting, a review of proposed changes to the Board committee structure, an update on our diversity work plan, discussion on the management of UK Scouting Overseas and a number of other operational updates. The meeting also receives copies of all of the minutes of Regional, County and Area Commissioner meetings across the UK and serves a means by which they can shape future work plans as well as raise questions that are impacting local Scouting. All in all a good day's discussion and lots of progress.

Another working dinner

We followed this in the afternoon and evening with a meeting of my team, where we discussed some of these items in further detail and spent most of our time focussing on the business objectives. We considered the internal communications strategy (something you know is close to my heart) for the last time before it goes to the Board. We were also joined by Gordon Weston, Chair of the Youth Involvement Group to discuss how to speed up the youth involvement project.

Up early Sunday morning to make my way home.

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