Blog | We want to change the world!
Young people lead the way with like-minded charity partners in a bid to make a real, long-lasting impact across all communities…
Doing what Scouts do
‘I’ve been in Scouts since I was six. When I was seven, my dad passed away, so I saw Scouts as something I could really throw myself into. It took my mind off things during that tough time; I had so many good experiences and so eventually I wanted to give something back.’
Jack Abrey, a student and Scout volunteer, is one of the inspiring and amazing young people that form the Scouts’ Community Impact Group (CIG). Jack is Chair of the CIG, which is formed of mostly young people in Scouts between the ages of 14–21.
It was formed as the driving force behind an exciting project where giving something back is key: A Million Hands.
This is an on-going community impact project that celebrates all of Scouting’s great work so far and looks ahead at the amazing things we could achieve. A Million Hands will provide fantastic development opportunities for young people, brilliant activity ideas for leaders and the chance for everyone to make a positive, long-lasting impact in our communities. In a nutshell, it’s doing what Scouting does already, but much more, and with a little help…
What we stand for
To help us carry out the work and identify the issues that matter most to our young people, the CIG set about identifying the key issues in today’s society that young people are most passionate about. The team carried out research and spoke to Scouts and volunteers around the UK and eventually uncovered four key issues that Scouts want to help address:
- mental wellbeing and resilience
- people affected by dementia
- those affected by disability
- access to clean water and sanitation for everyone, everywhere
Teaming up with other amazing charities Mind, Alzheimer’s Society, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Guide Dogs, WaterAid and Canal & River Trust, a groundbreaking partnership was formed to provide Scouts and volunteers with the support and the means to make a real and lasting difference in the world around them.
‘Scouting positively affects over 500,000 people across the UK but many people still have misconceptions about us so we need to show them what we stand for,’ says Eva, 16 and member of the CIG.
‘Community impact is one of the principles upon which Scouting was founded, and it’s still prominent in the Movement today. We want Scouts and leaders to go out into their communities and improve them for the better.’
Different members of the CIG are partnered with each of the other charities to lead on projects and resources that Scouts can use to help make a difference.
Jack, who is passionate about raising awareness about mental health, was a natural partner for Mind. ‘Mental health is an issue that is close to me; I have a few friends with close links to mental health and it’s a topic that’s just starting to come to light,’ explains, Jack.
‘It’s also linking up with Scouts and communities throughout the world and helping make a difference,’ says CIG member, Robert. Our partnership with WaterAid will help us do just that: encouraging better sustainable practice within the UK and across the globe.
‘We have half a million young people that really care about these issues so working with the partners gives us expertise and a better understanding of how we can make a positive impact,’ explains Robert.
Small actions, big results
The A Million Hands partnerships with Guide Dogs and Leonard Cheshire Disability will help us improve the lives of those affected by disabilities, which, as research with our Scouts proved, is a crucial issue that young people are keen to tackle.
Dementia is also something that kept coming back time and time again when the CIG spoke to young people and volunteers.
‘This is a subject that means a lot to me,’ says CIG member, Becky. ‘My great-grandmother had dementia. I have all these memories of visiting her in the home where she was staying and I hated it; now I understand what she had and why she may have been behaving that way, I wish I had spent more time with her.’
Rachel, CIG member and Explorer Scout, also has first-hand experience with Alzheimer’s: ‘My granddad, Mickey, has been affected by Alzheimer’s. If I’d known a bit more and learnt a bit more through Scouts, I would have no doubt viewed the situation differently and my granddad in a different light.’
A Million Hands and the CIG are committed to helping Scouts and volunteers take those initial steps. For starters, Scouts has teamed up with The Canal & River Trust to provide access to its sites and facilities to help Scouts physically make a positive impact in their communities.
The CIG, Scouts and volunteers from all over the UK have also worked with our charity partners to develop resources for volunteers to take to their Groups and get their Scouts thinking about how they will make a difference.
‘We’ve developed resources to help people make a change,’ says Jack. ‘Leaders can then easily make this part of their Scout night. It can be as little as a 20-minute session.’
The community impact activities will also provide the perfect opportunity for Scouts to earn their Community Impact Badge (see this issue of Get Active! for loads of community impact ideas).
A microsite dedicated to A Million Hands will also provide further information about activity resources (you will also be able to download them from there), the issues we are tackling and how you can get involved.
And why should we get involved? Because young people care – and surely there’s no greater motivation than that…
Register your interest
Get involved in A Million Hands at scouts.org.uk/communityweek. The A Million Hands microsite is also coming soon – look out for details on scouts.org.uk.