Today (27 May) we shared the impact restrictions has had on Scout membership.
Matthew Burrell, our County Commissioner reflects on the impact of the past few months on Norfolk Scouts.
The past year has been a tough one, it’s impacted everyone; many have got ill or lost loved ones and key workers have worked their hearts out. Young people have suffered as much as anyone. They have been cut off from their friends, their schools and have missed out on exams and simple things like meeting up with grandparents. This last year will have been one of the hardest times they’ve ever known.
These young people have been called “Generation Covid”. But I prefer to call them “Generation Hope”. This is because I have seen in them spirit, resilience and determination never to give up. They give us all renewed hope for the future.
In Norfolk throughout the pandemic, Scouts have clocked up thousands of millions of minutes on Zoom meet ups, keeping young people connected with their friends. We’ve hosted people from all over the world on our three online ‘Jamborees’, brought 200 adult volunteers together for a ‘Big Weekend’ and created 250 wellbeing champions. But all of this is thanks to the incredible team of volunteers who do so much in our county. They have all given time to make a huge difference.
But the pandemic has taken its toll on the Scouts in Norfolk. In one year, we’ve lost 24% of our membership – 2,200 of adults and young people who’ve simply been unable to carry on, due to the pressures of lockdown, uncertain work situations, or because they’ve needed to spend extra time looking after loved ones.
I understand that our health and families must come first, but losing members of the Scouts family is so heart breaking – especially given that in Norfolk the movement grew so strongly between 2006 and 2020, nearly 1,500 more members. When volunteers depart young people miss out.
Now, as the vaccine programme continues to roll out in an incredibly successful way, this is our moment to build back better for the future. That’s why I’m calling for new volunteers to join us in Norfolk.
Our future volunteers might be parents of young people already in the movement, people who remember their own days as a Scouts or those who want to better support the young in their community.
I heard from an inspiring young person called Jack recently “I want to get back to Scouting and I know it’s going to be better than it was before as we have all done so many different programmes in the last year and found different ways to do things. I love Scouting and now coming to the end of my schooling it has helped me shape my future and giving me the skills to make important decisions in my life.” It’s makes me feel so valued to the support Scouts has provided Jack, but also highlights the importance of making sure it remains part of our communities.
As you consider if you can help it is worth thinking about this fact, volunteering is a two way street. Volunteering makes you feel great, widens your circle of friends and gives you skills and experience you might need for that first job, promotion or career change. Put simply volunteering is #GoodForYou.
There’s no doubt about it; the new world is going to look different. We’re going to be working at home more and without commuting maybe there time available to give to volunteering.
Helping out at Scouts alongside your son or daughter is a great way to spend time together – whether it’s taking a hike in the woods or just playing a game of rounder’s it’s often the perfect antidote to hours on the laptop. That’s why I’m calling for families to join together and experience a little of the Scouts magic for themselves.
In Norfolk we are looking for different kinds of volunteers – We want to welcome all ages, abilities and backgrounds.
So let’s not just get back to where we were last year. Let’s get back bigger and better than ever, by welcoming in those who haven’t thoughts about Scouts before. This year, above all, has shown just how important it is for us to work together to support those in need.
So join me (and Jack!), and be a Scout volunteer in Norfolk and help us make a vital contribution to a new and better future. At the end of the day, we don’t measure life by what we can get, we measure it in what we can give. That’s the true path to happiness.
The Scouts #GoodForYou campaign launches today.
PS. Don’t just take my word for it, listen to Bear!