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UK Youth Commissioner, Hannah Kentish, explores the practical paths to being a more youth-shaped movement…


'Scout time'

At the beginning of 2015, 99% of my self-allocated 'Scout time' (which I must confess is sometimes far too much time!) was occupied with ensuring YouShape was as big a success as we could possibly make it.

During the past few weeks I've been able to get out and about around the UK again, discussing thoughts and ideas with adult volunteers and other young people about what ‘youth-shaped Scouting’ means to them exactly and what we can do to make sure young people shape their own experiences in Scouting all over the UK…

The front line

A few weeks ago in Taunton, I had a great opportunity to chat with volunteers on the front line about what we are doing for our younger Scouts to ensure we are being youth shaped.

A common theme from the leaders and young leaders I spoke to was the possibility of forums for each section – from Beaver Scouts to Explorer Scouts – to ensure that they have a say in planning their activities on a regular basis. Giving added responsibilities to young Sixers and Patrol Leaders to develop their leadership and communication skills was also discussed.

We had some interesting discussions around lack of leader knowledge on delivering the Navigator Staged Activity Badge. There was an excellent suggestion of Young Leaders currently undertaking their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, delivering the badge with the sections, with the support of the adult leaders. This is just one way of utilizing the skills of young leaders within the leadership team. 

‘Bite-size’ YouShape

Visiting Gloucestershire was incredibly exciting for me; it was the first time I had the chance to deliver what I’m coining as a ‘Bite-size YouShape’. During this, we tackled questions around barriers, successes and future ideas to promote young people having their voices heard on a District and County level.

Some really great ideas came out of the session – it was such an inspired and motivated group. The most exciting thing was the desire for a better process to ensure youth representatives at District/County committee meetings can fairly and accurately voice the opinions and ideas of the other young people in their area.

The group I chatted with decided to start a youth forum on a County level with the support from their County team, ensuring there is a place for youth members to discuss their thoughts and concerns in an environment where they will be supported and encouraged by adult volunteers. They hope for this to also be rolled out on a District level, to give even more young people in Gloucestershire the chance to have their voices heard – fantastic!

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Scouts speaking up

The Merseyside Scouts Speaking Up 2015 event last weekend provided a chance for me to take part in an event where other young people got together to discuss issues in their local area. These guys evidently felt passionately about their communities and they brainstormed projects/campaigns they would like to create or be part of in order to make a positive impact where they live.

What I particularly enjoyed about this event is that not only did it incorporate our vision to 2018 aim to become a more youth-shaped movement by working in partnership with our young people to discuss issues and ideas; but it also massively contributes towards our aspirations to make a positive contribution to society through community impact and social action.

Successful youth-shaped Scouting

Over the past few weeks I’ve experienced great examples of how youth-shaped Scouting can happen locally through a variety of methods.

Being youth shaped doesn’t just mean having young people present on committees or being asked what our opinion is ‘as a young person’. It also doesn’t mean having a Youth Commissioner, or having a local youth council, though these are certainly structures and roles that will help.

Successful youth-shaped Scouting will be the achievement of a culture where young people are actively consulted on 100% of the things that matter to us most; this will include not only the ideas and projects that are impacting upon our Scouting experience, but also the chance to be part of the solution regarding issues within our local areas.


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