Feature: popularity of scouting is on the rise in Warwickshire as leaders receive royal awards

Leamington District Scouts members
Leamington District Scouts members

Scouting’s popularity in Warwickshire is on the rise - and it is claimed that people’s mental wellbeing is benefitting as a result.

Warwickshire Scouts has experienced growth with 225 new youth members and 273 adult volunteers joining in the last 12 months, growing the movement from 6,961 to 7,459 members. This was following a call out for more adult volunteers last year.

Pam and John Hinks with Denise Robbins (assistant girl scout leader at 7th Warwick Woodloes).

Pam and John Hinks with Denise Robbins (assistant girl scout leader at 7th Warwick Woodloes).

The strong volunteer growth also coincides with new research conducted by The Scout Association, highlighting the overwhelmingly positive impact volunteering has on the lives and mental wellbeing of those who volunteer.

The research showed that the majority of volunteers reported having improved life satisfaction and self-esteem since beginning volunteer work, as well as having reduced feelings of loneliness and stress.

Nearly two thirds of volunteers also stated that since beginning volunteer work they have developed useful work skills; with more than half saying they feel more confident and more than half feeling more motivated in their jobs.

Despite the correlation between volunteering, improved workplace performance, and employee wellbeing, the survey also raised concerns.

Nearly two in three volunteers said they found it difficult to balance volunteering and work commitments and nearly one in three full-time workers said they aren’t comfortable asking their employer for more flexibility to support their volunteering activity

Nigel Hailey, Lead Volunteer for Warwickshire, said: “It is great to see such strong growth for Scouting in Warwickshire, both in youth members and volunteers is a huge achievement.

“Much of this is down to our amazing volunteers. As one of Warwickshire’s leading youth charities, we’re acutely aware of the importance of all the volunteers in the county who give up their time every single day to help others. With the majority of volunteers saying they feel more motivated, confident and more skilled as a result of the work they do with us, it’s not just those they’re helping who benefit.

“However, the fact that a third of full-time workers are not comfortable asking for more flexibility and understanding from their employer to enable them to volunteer, is concerning and shows that we need a national conversation on the ways businesses, big and small, can better develop policies that support flexible working practices for those who volunteer outside of work.

“With known benefits to workers’ productivity, confidence and the extra skills they are gaining - being more flexible clearly benefits employers as well as their staff.

“We still have 600 young people wanting to join, it would be great to have more adults volunteer to help us open new groups for these young people”

Jay Thompson, 25, a Warwickshire Explorer Scout leader and mental health nurse, said: “I started volunteering with Scouting a few years back, and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. More than anything I love seeing how the Explorer Scouts I work with have developed over the time I have been with them, as have I. The best part about volunteering for me is seeing the pride and sense of achievement on their faces when they reach a new goal – whether that is making it to the top of the climbing wall, or building a website for the first time.

*** Warwickshire Scouting leaders were honoured to meet the Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, at Windsor Castle in April, joined by Princess Beatrice of York, for their Queen’s Scout Award.

The Queen’s Scout Award was presented to Steven Haynes. Silver Acorn winners were: Clive James Dunn, Nuneaton,John and Pam Hinks from Warwick were awarded Bar to the Silver Acorn, while Denise Robbins from Warwick won a Silver Acorn.