Over 100,000 fewer young people took part in the Scouts last year and 15,000 volunteers left during the pandemic, the charity revealed.
Today the Scouts launched a campaign, #GoodForYou, in a bid to attract at least 5,000 new or lapsed volunteers.
Youth membership at the Scouts has fallen by nearly 25% from 480,083 last year to 362,752. Adult volunteer numbers are also down from 155,907 in 2020 to 140,810 for 2021.
The charity attributes these drops to pressure and disruption during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic it had seen a sustained period of growth, with total members increasing by 200,000 between 2006 and 2020.
‘Volunteering is good for communities, good for young people and good for you’
However, now that lockdown restrictions are lifting people are returning to scouting, its chief executive said, which is why more volunteers are needed.
Matt Hyde, chief executive of the Scouts, said: “Young people have lost out on so much in the past year and our membership numbers show how many were unable to continue with Scouts due to lockdown.
“The good news is they are coming back in droves, so we need more people to help us make sure young people can once again meet friends, have fun and fulfil their potential by learning skills for life. That’s why today we’re calling on people to volunteer for Scouts. Volunteering is good for communities, good for young people and good for you.”
Over the next six months, the Scouts will run local recruitment campaigns, reaching out to new volunteers and reconnecting with people who drifted away during the pandemic.
Louise Azavedo a Scout volunteer from North London, said: “In my area, Scouts is a lifeline for those in areas of deprivation - during the pandemic it became a beacon of normality for young people and help them keep a positive mental attitude during a difficult time.
“I know that Scouts helped me get through the last year as well. Scouts makes such a difference to young people’s lives in the long term, plus it’s a great way for adults to have fun too.”
Mixed picture for volunteering during the pandemic
Earlier this week NCVO research highlighted how there had been a mixed volunteering picture for different types of charity during the pandemic.
Some organisations experienced a marked increase in volunteers, with more people available due to being furloughed.
Meanwhile, others struggled to continue their activities in lockdown, or their volunteers were unable to take part due to shielding.