CEO’s Blog | It’s the small things that count...


Matt Hyde, Chief Executive of The Scout Association, talks about what we’ve learned from the wider third sector, and what it could mean for our mission to empower young people to make a positive contribution to society.

Christmas: family, good food, presents and time with loved ones. There’s a lot we associate with the festive season, which we’re all understandably excited about. But another closely linked attribute to 25 December, is giving – taking time to think about those less fortunate than ourselves and taking action to level the playing field. I came across a story that not only brought that important sentiment into sharp focus, it also got me excited about the scale of what we might be achieving by this time next year.

Clear change

A few years ago a local scheme was launched that involved young people taking bins out for the elderly during winter. A nice thing to do designed to save grannies a little bit of time and warmth? Actually, it was designed to save lives. And that’s exactly what it has done. A report commissioned locally had tried to understand how to cut the number of people in intensive care over the winter months found that the elderly disproportionately contributed to volume, and further that the number one culprit was far from the complex or acute medical needs that you might expect. It was slips while taking the bins out.

Let’s follow how the logic played out there. It started with a clear change – how do we reduce the number of elderly in hospitals over winter? It took the time to understand the need of that group of people and why they had found themselves in our A&Es. And it found that something as simple as taking the bins out could have a huge impact on an incredibly serious issue.

Impact and output

It doesn’t take huge amounts of cash or resource to change the world, but it does require us to be strategic with what we’ve got. The Third Sector (charities and voluntary organisations) talk about starting from the ‘impact’ you want to make, understanding what the ‘outcomes’ are that would lead to that impact, and then deciding the ‘outputs’ or activities that could make those outcomes a reality. Reducing the number or elderly in hospitals, by stopping them from falling over, hence take the bins out for them. It might sound like management jargon, but its simplicity is powerful. All too often we start from the activities that are nice to do, rather than the change we want to see.

Changing the world

It’s time we caught up with the rest of the Third Sector. So next year, we will be launching partnerships with national organisations, chosen by our young people, who are experts in making change on four specific societal issues. The change we want to see will be clear, and so the resources we develop to support you on the ground will mean our young people are genuinely changing the lives of others. We have to save the surprise for now, but keep your eyes peeled in the New Year.

As we brake to spend some well deserved down time with loved ones over the festive break, be proud of the fact that Scouting, like Christmas, has always been synonymous with helping others. But also get excited, because unlike the rest of the third sector, we have the reach to change the world through the smallest of actions. That’s what we’re going to do.

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