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