Late last year, a number of volunteers from across the Region took part in a series of consultation workshops under the banner “Shaping Scouting in South East Scotland”. These were set up to help the new Regional Leadership Team (led by Margery Naylor, Regional Commissioner) and the new Regional Executive Committee (led by John Cannon, Regional Chair) better understand the needs of, and the issues faced by, the volunteers across the Region.
Gathering Input from Across the Region
The workshops took place in September, October and November, in a variety of locations to enable volunteers from all Districts to attend an event relatively local to them –North Berwick, Bonaly, Dalkeith and Galashiels, as well as central Edinburgh.
Although turnout was a little disappointing for a Region with over 2,000 adult volunteers, the workshops were attended by 45 members in all – who said Scout Leaders would do anything for a free doughnut? The workshops were devised and run by Martin Elliot (Deputy Regional Commissioner) and Graeme Robertson (Regional Vice-Chair), and asked the participants to dig deep to think about big topics such as explored topics such as strategic opportunities and threats, long-term vision for the region, and volunteer expectations in terms of Regional infrastructure, support for volunteers, and how to get more engaged with the operation of South East Scotland Region.
As a follow-up to the workshops, and to gather more input from those unable to attend in person, an online survey was run in November & December, where a further 75 people from across the Region were able to offer their input on the same topics. The findings from the survey were broadly in line with the workshop discussions, and we’ve clustered the key messages around the three pillars of our Regional Strategy – People, Programme and Perception.
A copy of the summary paper discussed at the recent Regional Executive Committee is available here, but we are delighted that some of the big issues are already being addressed by actions already taken in the last year, by the Regional Leadership Team and the Regional Executive Committee.
This is not an exhaustive list, but headline actions include:
· Invest in remedial works at Bonaly and Longcraig
· More Adventurous Activities Advisers
· Recruit Scouting Support Officer and Centre Manager
· More flexible staffing at Bonaly, including improved Warden cover
· Renewed focus on awards & recognition
· Investing in new communications infrastructure
· Streamlining processes at Bonaly
Without any doubt, the most consistent message was the difficulties faced by Sections, Groups and Districts (and Region!) filling volunteer vacancies – especially ones which require significant commitment – to cope with the continuing growth in youth membership. This will be a primary focus for Mike Treanor, our new Scouting Support Officer, when he starts next month.
At the recent Executive Committee meeting, we discussed and agreed an action plan which will further address the needs and aspirations of the Region’s members. Again, full details are in the report mentioned above, but some highlights are:
|They said…||We should…||Suggested Owner*|
|PROGRAMME||Young People should be playing a greater role in driving programme||Enhance Regional and District support for Youth Involvement / Youth Approved Awards||Regional Leadership Team|
|Bonaly is too expensive||Develop pricing strategy which favours SES Region members||Centre Manager / Bonaly Business Planning Group|
|We need more access to local camping and activity space across Region||Develop long-term strategic infrastructure investment plans||Regional Executive Committee|
|PEOPLE||We need support for new volunteers; varies hugely between Groups / Districts||Identify and share good practice; develop standard induction process and materials||Scouting Support Officer|
|We need help recruiting adult volunteers||Conduct audit of vacancies and develop recruitment action plan||Scouting Support Officer|
|We need more Training Advisers (for both Leaders and Managers)||More training and support for Training Advisers||Regional Leadership Team / Scouting Support Officer|
|PERCEPTION||We need more clarity on what we get for the Regional Levy paid by Young People||Improve budgeting and financial reporting||BBPG / CM|
|· We don’t have a high profile in the media||
· Develop communications strategy
· Recruit local Ambassadors
|Regional Leadership Team / Regional Exec Committee|
|· We don’t benefit much from being part of the Region||· Develop / promote access to facilities / discounts at Regional level||Scouting Support Officer|
Over the coming year, the Regional Executive Committee will track progress against the action plans, and you should see some impact as Mark Campbell and Mike Treanor get their feet under their new desks in the coming weeks.
Thanks to everyone across the Region who helped by providing venues, making coffee, promoting the events, getting stuck into the exercises, and completing the survey. Margery and John are delighted to have gathered a wealth of information which will help prioritise and inform decision-making for years to come.