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South East Scotland Scouts faces volunteer shortage as youth waiting lists become the largest in Scotland

Youth membership in Scouts continues to grow. However, there are still many young people who want to take part but can’t. This is because the demand for adult volunteers in South East Scotland Scouts is at an all-time high. 

South East Scotland Scouts urges adults to get active, become more involved in their communities and choose volunteering with one of our 88 local Scout Groups in Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian or the Scottish Borders to help more youngsters enjoy outdoor activities and develop important skills for life. 

Scout Leaders and Assistants as well as support roles such as Treasurers and Secretaries are needed urgently as the demand for places by children across the Region has surged to just under 2,000 according to our latest Scouts membership figures.  

Records show that there are 1,967 young people on the waiting lists across Edinburgh, East Lothian, Borders and Midlothian – the largest of all of Scotland’s 8 Scout Regions. 

Around 770 of these are aged 6-8 years old and waiting to join Beavers, with just over 480 more waiting for places in Cubs for 8-10.5 year olds. The launch of the new Squirrels section for ages 4-6 in 2021 is also adding further demand to the youth waiting lists. 

Did you know?

It would take only 339 new volunteers to solve the problem right across all 7 Districts in the Region
and wipe that waiting list out overnight! That's doable, yes?!


Martin Elliot, Regional Commissioner for South East Scotland Scouts said: “We recognise that everyone is busy, which is why we offer adult volunteers much more flexibility, in a wide range of roles from Scout Leaders to Trustee positions, than in the past. For instance, you can now choose to job-share if you can’t help every week. This way you can fit it around your family, work and busy schedules.” 

“Scouts is inclusive and enabling. We are pleased to see a growth in girls joining Scouts year on year and they now represent 18.3% of the total youth membership which shows that life-changing adventure is attractive to everyone. We continue to actively work to ensure that there is no barrier to participation at Scouts. We are also proud to have awarded over 1,130 Top Awards to our young people which is 38% more than in the previous year and ahead of the Scottish average. These build vital employability, character and personal skills helping young people realise their full potential and equipping them with the skills they need in life.”   

“To accommodate the continued high demand for Scouting among young people, we need more adult volunteers to sign up. So, I’m calling on parents, neighbours, colleagues, organisations, students and the wider communities who want to make a difference in the lives of local young people to have a go at Scouting’. 

“Volunteering can change us all for the better. As a volunteer I have gained many important skills, made lifelong friends and, importantly, had fun. No matter your skill, big or small, come and share it and help inspire the next generation. So long as you have a can-do attitude, you have the power to help reduce our waiting lists and you can help ensure more young people are empowered with the life and adventure skills that Scouting provides. We want to be able to provide Scouting to the growing number of young people who want it, so my message is always that whilst many of us are busy we can still do a little bit.’ 

More than 6,768 young people, up 3.4% year on year, ranging in age from four to 25, are part of the Scouts in the Region. The demand for Scouting by young people continues to grow in popularity. This is why, today, there are over 1,960 young people on waiting lists to join our Region.  

“Thinking back, the best thing about Scouting has just been seeing the smiling faces and hearing those words ‘it’s been great, thank you!’ when the young people finish their activity. You know then that some of those memories gained by yourself have been passed on to others. Volunteering has helped expand my skillsets further within each of the differing roles. It has offered a chance to meet similar enthusiastic volunteers from all walks of life, some with no or little knowledge of Scouting and others, with vast experience willing to pass this on to others. It’s given me a new outlet (or excuse) for getting away from the usual work pressures, doing things that I enjoy personally with the benefit given to our next generation! "

Darren Pringle, Scout Leader and Beaver Leader, 102nd Craigalmond (Clermiston) Scout Group

“I started with Cubs in 2020 on Zoom during lockdown! I have gained so much from the opportunities that I was given as a child. As a volunteer, it is great to be able to offer a range of similar, new experiences for our Cubs and Squirrels.

 I enjoy seeing their excitement when they master a new skill or when they overcome a challenge that they didn’t think they could.

Volunteering gives me the chance to try new things and spend time outdoors, while sharing these experiences with lovely groups of people."

Lisa Edgar, Squirrel Scout Leader and Assistant Cub Scout Leader, 25th Braid Scout Group

“I became involved as a parent helper and then as a member of the Executive Committee. 

So, as the Beaver Leader in Cardrona had left and therefore Beavers had stopped running, I decided to take on the role as the Leader meaning that Beavers could be re-established.”

Kirstin Worsley, Beaver Leader, Cardrona Beavers

“I had no previous scouting experience, I joined as a parent volunteer during lockdown. I work a busy day job with a fair degree of responsibility. Volunteering with Scouts is a great release and gives me a great sense of pride to be doing something to support the various Scouting sections that have a meaningful impact on my local community.”

Alistair Cameron, Group Chair, Earlston Scout Group

What can you do?  

We rely on adult volunteers to deliver Scouting across the Region. Week by week, our volunteers empower thousands of young people to learn new skills, make new friends and stand on their own two feet. They’re our everyday heroes. They shape young people’s lives for the better and find out a whole lot about themselves in the process, too. 

We’re more relevant and more needed than ever, but it’s not always easy to keep up with the demand. That’s where you come in. 

You don’t need to be Bear Grylls to join us. You don’t need to have been a Scout when you were younger. You don’t even need to know how to put up a tent. Our door is open to people of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds, and we’re only able to change lives because people like you lend a hand. We’re talking about project managers, hall convenors, communications experts, board members, and skill sharers. We’re talking about mini bus drivers and first aiders. We’re talking about students who want to boost their CV, and parents who volunteer so they can spend more time together as a family or give back to their community. 

Whatever your skillset, lend a hand for as little or as much time as you can spare, and we promise you’ll get more out than you put in. Because whether you’re helping a leader to run an activity in the local town hall, organising a night away, or buttering 120 slices of bread a group of very hungry eleven-year-olds – no two Scout meetings are the same. The difference you make, though, is always great. 

We provide the training. You show up, get stuck in, and make memories for life. Sounds fun? Worthwhile? It is. 

As long as you’re at least 18 years old, you can help out as an adult volunteer in Scouting. There is no upper age limit for adult volunteers.