DC’s blog – 6 Feb 2019

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An update on topical matters, including:

  • Annual census
  • International Service Team applications
  • Changes to adult appointment process
  • Appeal for appointments panel members
  • Considering District campsite and/or HQ
  • Reminder about District minibus
  • Other volunteering opportunities

Annual census

A week into February, progress with completing the Scout Association’s annual census is going well.  It’s always a challenging process and we know the form isn’t always the easiest to complete.

All Groups and Explorer Units have received their passwords to enter their details on the census site.  There is a particular focus this year on capturing the location of meeting places, so that The Scout Association can map gaps in provision more easily.

Top Tip #1:  If a section’s return can’t be marked as complete, check whether the number of young people with disabilities is equal to or larger than the total number of young people.  There is a ‘none’ box, to enter the number of people without any disability.  Seems to be catching lots of people out and is no doubt very frustrating.

If those completing the census need any help, please let us know.  We’re targeting getting the census complete, for all Groups and Units across the District, by Saturday 16 February.

International Service Team applications

Applications for adults to join the International Service Team (IST) for the World Scout Jamboree in America this summer have re-opened.

The IST is a huge undertaking.  UK Scouts are sending over 700 adult volunteers this summer.  The contingent is looking to recruit additional adults and re-opened applications, the closing date for which is Sunday, 17 February.

Full details can be found here.

Changes to the adult appointments process

The Scout Association has introduced a number of changes to the adult appointment process in the January 2019 edition of POR.  The changes are designed to keep effective checks in adult appointments, whilst making sure that the whole experience is welcoming to new adult volunteers.

The main changes with direct effect on those introducing new adults are:

  • Discretion by the appointments panel not to require a meeting with certain individuals, where they are already well-known or have been to a panel meeting in the recent past – there are conditions to this, which the document will describe
  • The introduction of an online-booking system for appointment panel meetings.  New candidates will be asked to select an appointment from the list of available dates, venues and times.  We hope that this will be much more convenient for applicants and ease the burden on our Appointments Panel chair of trying to match availability between applicants and members.

What hasn’t changed are the key responsibilities of the line manager, usually a Group Scout Leader, to explain the application process and training commitment of the role to applicants. Too often, candidates are arriving at the appointments panel without a clear understanding of what is required.

The District Executive Committee has discussed a document outlining the specifics of processes as they will apply in the District and there is document to be published shortly, which sets out what this means for us. There are a few small changes to make to this document and then we’ll publish it on the District Website. It will be important for all line managers to read this document as there are some important changes.

Appeal for appointments panel members

Existing appointments panel members are busy and it has become increasingly difficult to setup panel meetings that meet their, and applicants’ other diary commitments.  The most effective way to deal with this is to increase the pool of panel members, so that no-one is required to take part too often.

Could you fulfil this important role?  Do you know anyone who has the right sort of skills to welcome new adults and accurately asses their suitability to take a Scouting role?

Individuals don’t necessarily need to have a long an distinguished Scouting pedigree, although many have.  We’d particularly like to here from younger adults who would be prepared to help as we try to ensure appropriate balance in the composition of panels.

If you, or someone you know would like to be considered, please let our Chair of the Appointments Panel, Peter Kemp, know.

Considering a district campsite / HQ

Just a short note to say that the District Executive Committee has discussed a proposal to investigate the possibility of establishing a district venue – maybe a campsite and/or HQ. At this stage, we have not agreed to establish such a venue, but have agreed to an initial study to look at what users’ might need, what it might cost and how the whole thing might work.

This is clearly a long-term project and no commitment has been made at this stage, but its an exciting idea and good to be looking forward with a long-term view. Watch this space for further details, including a call for volunteers to join a small project team to lead the investigation.

Reminder about District minibus

A quick reminder that the District now owns a minibus, which is available for hire by groups, units and other youth organisations.  Full details can be found on the District website, which includes details of availability and costs for hire.  We believe rates are considerably lower than hiring a minibus commercially and rates include everything except fuel.  The minibus is stored in Chippenham, where it may be collected and returned.

Other volunteering opportunities

As ever, there are a number of Scouting roles which it would be helpful to fill.  Please do have a think about whether you’d be able to help in any of the following areas, or know anyone who would like to.

  • Group Scout Leaders:  We have a number of GSL vacancies around the District and the possibility of more over the coming months.  These are crucial roles, to lead and manage volunteers and delivery of practical Scouting at the coal face. There are long-established groups; the potential for brand-new groups; small-groups and large-groups; groups with specialisms in sea, air and regular scouting.  Infinite variety to choose from 😉
  • Appointments Secretary:  We’ve worked over recent months to reduce the administrative burden of the appointments process, but it would still be helpful to have someone able to support the appointments panel with their administration. 
  • Training Manager:  Guy Livingston will step aside from his role at Local Training Manager at the end of March this year.  This role helps training advisors, line managers and learners stay on top of what they need to do to complete their Scout Training.  Guy has organised local training too, which has been very helpful, and it would be great to see this continue.
  • Keep a lookout for an invitation to join the project team, looking at the possibility of a new district campsite / HQ.

If you, or anyone you know, would be able to help in any of these capacities, please let us know.