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Scouts new bob-a-job week will see 40,000 volunteers in action

38 per cent of Scouts volunteer for another organisation
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Scouts new bob-a-job week will see 40,000 volunteers in action1

Fundraising | Niki May Young | 19 Oct 2011

The Scout Association is asking the public for their suggestions on where up to 40,000 Scouts should volunteer during their first volunteering week for almost 20 years.

Scout Community Week will take place from 14-20 May next year and will see Scouts up and down the UK encourage donations to the Association for volunteering works undertaken in their local areas. The last mass-volunteering movement by the Scouts took place almost 20 years ago during Scout Job Week, commonly referred to as "bob-a-job week".

Bear Grylls, UK's chief Scout, said that volunteering is "at the heart of Scouting". The commitment is announced in the same day as research shows that 38 per cent of all youth member Scouts also volunteer for another organisation in their wider communities, and 36 per cent of former youth Scouts volunteer two hours a week, compared to 26 per cent of the wider population.

Lack of Scout leaders

But while Scouts are providing the example by volunteering in their communities, the Association itself faces the challenge of recruiting volunteers to manage the half a million young people in their system. Despite the efforts of 90,000 voluntary adult leaders, 30,000 young people are currently sitting on waiting lists without leaders to manage them. 

Simon Carter, assistant director of media relations for the Scout Association said the dearth is not to do with willingness of adults to volunteer: "It's a numbers game really. We have half a million Scouts, and normal everyday society nowadays is not conducive to having time to spare in the evenings and weekends."

But the Association hopes Scout Community Week will spur adults to get involved with the 104-year-old organisation. Grylls said: "My own Scouting visits around the UK always remind me that if you want something done, then ask a busy person! This country is full of many people who give their spare time to make a difference and I am proud to be among their numbers. Together we can influence positive change."

Corporate support

The movement has received both in-kind and financial support from B&Q. The DIY specialist is providing the means to market the event, in-store fundraising, the use of tools to undertake volunteering tasks, and practical training for Scouts to undertake tasks safely. The company had already partnered with the Scouts earlier in the year to help teach DIY skills to all UK Scouts, sponsoring the creation of the Scout DIY Activity badge. "It's really a great partnership that we're very happy about," said Carter. 

The Association calls for members of the public to suggest ideas of what the Scouts can volunteer to tackle, which can be submitted by email to community.week@scouts.org.uk.

The organisation will also be launching an online donations platform in partnership with Virgin Money Giving to coincide with Scout Community Week.

Volunteering spreading

The event will fall outside of the European Year of Volunteering, which is currently taking place throughout the EU, encouraging volunteering both at ground and policy level, but will coincide with efforts to increase volunteering in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics.

The impetus on volunteering is being felt in other areas too. Earlier this week the Department of Health announced it will award £5.1m to voluntary organisations working on health and social care projects through the Health & Social Care Volunteering Fund

 

 

Rob Jackson
Director
Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd
20 Oct 2011

"normal everyday society nowadays is not conducive to having time to spare in the evenings and weekends"

I'm not sure I agree with that. My personal experience is that there are lots of people giving time at evenings and weekends in a variety of different ways. I'm sure the millions who do volunteer every year aren't only doing it in the day time.

What we do know if that people today don't thrill to the kind of long term committment organisations like the Scouts require. This doesn't mean it isn't possible to keep engaging people as volunteers for the long term, just that few people will sign the next 20years of their life away at the start of the volunteering relationship.

Of course for organisations like the Scouts, who need longer term committments, this presents significant challenges. These challenges can be overcome through innovation and willingness to change.

Blaming society for changing - and therefore potential volunteers - for not being available when you need them is not the way forward!

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