Since I took on the role of Regional Commissioner a year ago, one of the most common questions I get asked by friends both within Scouting and outwith is what does a Regional Commissioner do? Therefore as I head into my second year as RC I have decided to use this update to give a bit of insight into what my role and that of our other managers involves. 

Within South East Scotland, Scouting couldn’t happen without our large team of managers. This includes:
  • 7 District Commissioners (DCs) supported by Deputy/Assistant DCs
  • 76 Group Scout Leaders (GSLs) with some supported by Deputy/Assistant GSLs
  • 11 Active Support Unit (ASU) Managers
All the people who take on these roles, including mine, are volunteers who support those volunteers providing opportunities for our young people whether that be advice and information, practical support such as leader recruitment or recognising the good work that the volunteers are doing. The manager role can be a challenging one but also very rewarding. So what activities can these roles involve?

An Important Link

As Regional Commissioner, I am a member of the Scottish Leadership team, led by Andrew Sharkey, Chief Commissioner of Scotland. Similarly, all DCs are part of my Regional Leadership team and GSLs are part of District teams. These roles are therefore important links between the different teams that support Scouting in Scotland.

In November I was able to join with my fellow RCs from across Scotland along with Sharkey and some of his team to look at how Scouting in Scotland is recovering from COVID and some of the exciting opportunities ahead such as Squirrels and improving the experience for our volunteers. We were fortunate to be joined by Carl Hankinson the UK Chief Commissioner so the meeting also allowed me to ensure that the Region’s voice is heard as key decisions are made about the future of Scouting in Scotland but also more widely across the UK. Similarly, I meet regularly with the DC’s both as a group and individually to ensure that key information is passed on but also to understand any particular challenges or successes that they have within their Districts. The DCs in turn regularly meet with their GSL team. 

RCs, DCs and GSLs are all members of their respective Regional/District/Group Executive Committees so ensure that the voice of those who provide Scouting activities are heard by their trustees.

Getting Out and About

I believe one of the most important parts of my role is getting out and meeting members across the Region to hear what they are enjoying about their Scouting experience and what we as a Region can do to help make it better

As restrictions eased I enjoyed the opportunities that I had to get out and meet young people and adult volunteers either in person or virtually which I look forward to continuing in 2022. I have managed to attend events in all Districts during my time as RC. It also provides me with an opportunity to thank volunteers in person for the continuing work that they do to support Scouting in South East Scotland. 

Some events that I attended recently include the investitures of the first Squirrels in the Region, the selection event for the World Scout Jamboree participants and visiting the Bonaly ASU during one of their regular maintenance days at the Centre. 

I, like many other managers across the Region, also represent the Region at external events such as Remembrance Day where I was invited to join political and organisational leaders in laying a wreath at Edinburgh’s Stone of Remembrance on behalf of the Region.

Setting the Strategy

Another big part of all managers’ roles is setting the strategy for the Group/District/Region going forward. This is particularly challenging but important at the moment as Scouting for all of us has changed over the past 2 years and existing plans have to be redeveloped to reflect the position we are in now. For all of us the priority remains supporting Groups and Sections to recover and rebuild but we also need to keep a firm eye on the future and how we can continue to make Scouting available to more young people in South East Scotland. 

This gives just a flavour of the large amount of work being done by our managers and doesn’t touch on the work involved in ensuring that the members within their area of responsibility follow the policies and rules of The Scouts as well as managing complaints and providing line management to those within their teams. 

In addition many of our managers hold additional roles. In my case I am also a Regional and Scottish trainer and other managers also hold section leader, advisor or trustee roles to name just a few. 

Supporting our Managers

Given the importance of the manager roles, we need to make sure that those who volunteer for these roles are well supported which is why I am particularly pleased that Mike Treanor in his role as Deputy RC has agreed to review the support that we provide to managers with a particular focus on GSLs and look at how this can be improved in future. We are also working to look at what additional training we can provide to support managers. One example of how we are doing this is successfully applying for funding from the Scouts Scotland Development Fund to allow us to provide mental health training for managers to help them best support their teams. We will be looking at what further opportunities like this, outside of the mandatory training, we can provide to support volunteers.

 

Finally we also need to ensure that we are supporting those who may take on manager roles in the future. How we prepare and train these future managers is an important area and one that Mike and I are looking at as we set the priorities for the Regional Strategy.

Hopefully this has given you a window into my world as your Regional Commissioner as well as highlighting the huge amount of work that our managers do to support Scouting in South East Scotland, often in the background, and why these roles are so important to allow us to continue to provide #SkillsForLife to as many young people as possible. 

If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more about manager positions in Scouting in South East Scotland Region please do not hesitate to e-mail me.

Best wishes,

Martin

Martin Elliot
Regional Commissioner
E-mail: rc@sesscouts.org.uk