Blog | Growing the Movement: new provision
Scouting has come to the Preston Road Estate for the first time, thanks to the Youth United Foundation and dedicated local volunteers.
Craven Lea Scout Group is the first to ever exist on the Preston Road Estate, Hull. Home to approximately 6,500 people, the estate traditionally provided employees for the city’s docks and railways, until the decline of these industries. Now, it is now ranked the 12th most deprived area in England. As such, it was an ideal project for the Youth United
Foundation (YUF), which helps support the opening of Scout Groups in the 200 most deprived areas of the country.
In spring 2014, District Commissioner Gary McCune carried out research to see which area of the District would benefit most from the funding: the Preston Road Estate was an obvious candidate. Links were made with community groups and in 2015, Regional Development Officer Rachel Rushmer began the process of setting up a Scout Group on the estate.
‘Scouting wasn’t something that had ever taken place in the area – people still thought it was for boys only and was just about camping,’ Rachel says. It was important to educate the community about Scouting and sell the benefits to a generation that hadn’t experienced it. ‘I explained to community leaders that Scouts helps children and young adults reach their full potential. It develops important life skills including teamwork, time management and leadership,’ says Rachel.
After a series of taster sessions, to give both adults and young people an idea of what Scouting entails on a week-to-week basis, the Craven Lea Group officially opened, supported by the District and experienced Scout Leaders from local Groups.
The YUF funding was used to buy uniforms for young people and volunteers, as well as the equipment needed to run weekly sessions. ‘Where established Groups have cupboards full of craft materials and camping equipment that they can take for granted, Craven Lea had to start from scratch,’ says District Commissioner Gary.
Adjusting to a volunteering schedule was difficult for some members of the community at first, and after some leaders dropped out, this put increased strain on the remaining leaders. Nevertheless, those who have stuck with it clearly love the work and are continuing to recruit new volunteers. Parents are encouraged to volunteer on a flexible basis, helping with activities they’re interested in.
Having previously never been involved in Scouting, Debbie Lawton was one of the first volunteers to get involved. Now, she is deeply committed to her role. ‘It takes over your life I think, because you get passionate about it and you end up planning your life around Scouting,’ she says. The Preston Road community is tight-knit: the leaders all know one another and most of the Beavers and Cubs go to the same school. Parents drink tea in the front room of Craven Lea House while their children are at Scouts – no doubt some of them will become volunteers too.
‘I remember when the Beavers first started,’ Rachel says. ‘Some of them didn’t seem to know how to play together. It was a bit sad, but you don’t see it anymore because they’ve learnt how to work in teams.’ Jodie Megson, mum to Beaver Jack, says she’s seen the difference since her son started Scouting., ‘It’s been great. He was a little shy at school – great academically but he struggled to mix with the other children. Now, he’s persuaded some of his classmates from school to come and there are five of them who come along.’
Despite the challenges, the Group and District are thriving. The Craven Lea Scout Group was the first Group set up with YUF funding by the City of Hull District: they have since gone on to open 16 more sections. And the Scout hut has become a bubbling, lively hub of the community, which no doubt bodes well for the future of the Preston Road Estate.
Find out more about the Regional Services Team, and how they are helping to grow Scouting in your area. Grants are also available to help Groups and sections develop.