Meet the Volunteer – Catherine Gilliland, Beaver Leader

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Beavers are young people aged 6 to 8 who gather in groups called Beaver Colonies to hop, skip and jump their way through lots of different games and activities – achieving anything they set their minds to, and having lots of fun along the way. This is only achievable thanks to our powerhouse of Beaver Leaders who are on hand to supervise activities, share their skills and keep everyone safe.

Next in our ‘Meet our Volunteer’ series, we’d like to introduce you to Catherine Gilliland, Beaver Leader, Stockbridge Beaver Colony, 64th Edinburgh North East Scout Group.

Read her story and find the perfect volunteer role for yourself. Whether you want to work with young people directly or help behind the scenes, there’s something for everyone at Scouts.

Name – Catherine Gilliland
Group and District – Stockbridge Beaver Colony, 64th Edinburgh North East Scout District 
Role – Beaver Leader

Prior to Scouting:
I grew up as part of the wider Scouting family as a Rainbow, a Brownie, and a Guide. I enjoyed and benefited from my time as a youth member to such an extent that I often thought fondly of running my own section. 

For a number of years, after university, I volunteered with the Rainbows and Brownies. I found an energising joy in the challenging and rewarding pursuit of working with young people.

Why I decided to volunteer with Scouts:
As the world was opening up again, I was looking around for something to do. The pandemic left many feeling isolated from their communities and I was no different. I was interested in working with young people again and wanted to take a step toward returning to work. I turned on my computer and began to look for volunteering opportunities.

It was the case, growing up in London in the nineties, that Girlguiding was, unsurprisingly, for girls and Scouting was for boys. I came across a posting for a Beaver Leader and saw that Scouting was making it abundantly clear that they now welcomed everyone regardless of gender or any other characteristic. As a disabled woman passionate about equality this was really exciting to see.

Volunteering #GoodForTwo:
On replying to the volunteering post in January I learned that there was no local Beaver Colony because of a lack of Leaders. I was excited to get stuck in, but I had some concerns. A few years previously I had taken the difficult decision to leave work because of ill mental health. I also have a lifelong visual impairment. I did not doubt my capability, but I know how important it is to have the right support.

I asked my partner, Sikandar, to join me in volunteering. It’s made the experience all the more wonderful having my partner and friend along for the ride.

“I initially became an Assistant Beaver Leader to help and support my partner, who had volunteered to revive a Beaver Colony that had lain dormant for a while. 

I felt this was an admirable and courageous decision. I wanted to do what I could to help her succeed and help the Section thrive. The process of helping her has brought with it a number of happy surprises. I have found that I really enjoy planning and executing activities for young people.

 I am highly invested in their progress and development within Scouting.”

Sikandar Singh Soin, Assistant Beaver Leader

Scouting support:
But I need not have been concerned about a lack of support. I have met so many welcoming, supportive, fantastic people in my eight months as a Beaver Leader, including my Assistant Beaver Leaders, Val and Alicia, the parents and carers, the Beaver Scouts themselves, and volunteers in the wider Group, District and Region. 

By mid-March we had our first meeting with three Leaders and fifteen Beaver Scouts. In April, we invested seventeen Beaver Scouts and three Beaver Leaders all in one go with the help of our District Commissioner, Rob Whitelaw. This coming term we will see our first Beavers moving on to Cubs. It’s been a challenge, a learning experience, and a pleasure made possible by the wealth of skills, knowledge, kindness and enthusiasm in Scouting. 

My favourite thing about Scouts:
I think my favourite thing about being a Leader, and also how I know I’ve done a good job, happens in the final moments of madness when parents and young people pair off and head into the night. It is when I see and hear the Beavers excitedly telling their grown-ups about the game they played, the thing they learned, or the creation they made. 

Inclusion and Diversity

Scouts is an inclusive, values based movement and membership is open to all those who share our fundamental values.

The Equal Opportunities Policy outlines what we do to ensure the movement is open and accessible; and that people are treated equally and with respect. This policy is reflective of the ethos of Scouts, expressed by our fundamental values (integrity, care, co-operation, respect and belief) and our commitment to delivering Scouts for all. By removing any real or perceived barriers to participation, we can ensure that even more young people can enjoy the adventure of Scouts and that Scouts will be as diverse as the communities in which we live.

If you have a question or wish to volunteer please get in touch.