Thames Ridge Scouts – Growth Champions
Oxfordshire Scouts have recorded another year of growth according to the latest annual membership figures released this month. Thames Ridge Scout District has enjoyed another year of growth, increasing the number of youth members from 1044 to 1147 and achieving a Growth Champions award from the Scout County. All of those young people, and the adults who support them are now enjoying adventure and learning valuable skills for life.
Extra Volunteers Help Get Children off Waiting Lists and into Scouting
The District already has a 339 strong volunteer team bringing adventure to young people aged 6-25. The annual membership census also highlighted that there are in excess of 100 young people waiting to join the adventure of Scouting and experience the benefits it can bring to them, and the Scouts are continuing their call for new volunteers to consider joining. There are a range of exciting roles in Thames Ridge District ranging from helping at Scout meetings to behind the scenes roles with everything from helping with the accounts to helping maintain camping equipment. 20 new volunteers would cater for all those who are currently of the right age and on waiting lists in Abingdon, Didcot and the Villages.
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, said:
“I am so proud that The Scout Association UK continues to see so many young people and adult volunteers signing up to not only have fun, experience adventures but also learn skills for life. And that applies to both the young people and volunteers! Even though we have had record numbers of adults joining the Movement, we still have 57,000 young people who want to join and gain new skills but are unable to do so. If you want to make a difference to the lives of young people, feel more motivated and confident and learn some new skills then please give Scouting a go.”
Volunteering Benefits Mental Wellbeing.
The call for more volunteers 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 (70%) and self-esteem (66%) since beginning volunteer work, as well as having reduced feelings of loneliness (42%) and stress (33%).
Nearly two thirds (65%) of volunteers also stated that since beginning volunteer work they have developed useful work skills, with 59% saying they feel more confident and 54% feeling more motivated in their jobs.
Volunteering for the Scouting is accessible and adaptable to the volunteers’ needs and availability. With a modern and supported training programme, there is a role in Scouting suitable for everyone.
Despite the correlation between volunteering, improved workplace performance, and employee wellbeing, the survey also raised concerns. Nearly 2 in 3 (62%) volunteers said they found it difficult to balance volunteering and work commitments and nearly 1 in 3 (32%) full-time workers said they aren’t comfortable asking their employer for more flexibility to support their volunteering activity
Phil Earl, Lead Volunteer for Oxfordshire Scouting, said:
“I am proud to see that we continue to achieve such strong growth for Scouting in the county. Providing our unique programme of adventure and skills for life to more young people is a huge achievement.
“Much of this is down to our amazing volunteers. As one of the county’s leading youth charities, we’re acutely aware of the importance of all the volunteers in Oxfordshire who give up their time every single week 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 the young people they are working with that they’re benefiting.
“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, large 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.”
Jay Thompson an Explorer Scout Leader and mental health nurse aged 25 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 (aged 14-17) 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.”