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Chief Commissioner's Blog | Having a voice

Wayne first took an interest in national Scouting because he thought things could be done better; 15 years later he takes a look at democracy in a Scouting context and how you can get involved.

A funny thing


Democracy in Scouting is a funny thing; on the one hand we are the most democratic imaginable; as volunteers we can simply vote with our feet if we are unhappy and leave. On the other hand, our formal structures are a long way from what most would describe as democratic. The ultimate decision-making body, the Council, has nearly 400 nominated or elected members, but even it has relatively few constitutional powers; most decisions are made by the Trustee Board of 21 members, appointed by the Council itself.

Less formal means


There are many less formal ways for others to engage. September sees two opportunities, firstly Gilwell Reunion, which begins on 5 September, where 2,500 members gather for a weekend in what, for me, is the nearest we have to a national council.

The following weekend sees the Annual General Meeting, although only members of Council may vote, non-members of Council can request to attend and speak.

A sign of the times


It’s hard to think that 15 years ago members present at Gilwell Reunion actually booed young people who were demonstrating a proposed uniform that they didn’t like. The general atmosphere was such that national volunteers and staff were reluctant to attend and certainly to engage.

I’m pleased to say that things are very different today, with a much better general atmosphere and level of engagement reflecting our success, high internal morale and external recognition.  We acknowledge also that we don’t all agree on everything so there are plenty of opportunities for debate, formal and informal, plus workshops and other discussions.

Not such a bad model?


Despite the challenges, our model seems to be working well; changes over recent years have been met with widespread support and even enthusiasm, facilitated by greater consultation and membership engagement, underpinning our actions and strategy.

If you feel differently or have ideas for an even better approach, please do get involved in these opportunities and others such as national roles. Your chances of success are also improved using opportunities like the above to get yourself known and involved.

You never know, you could end up as a Trustee or even UKCC!

03.09.14

 

Comments

 

By Anon
on 03/09/2014 11:40

I have been a Leader for 14 years this week, and started an Explorer Unit 9 years ago this week, which fits in pretty well with the timespan in the blog. The changes I have seen in Scouting and the way in which Gilwell is so much more open and involving now are great. And it is working upwards as well as down, I pass on all appropriate surveys and questionaires to my Explorers, and on several occasions we have discussed the results of surveys and they can see how their responses are reported.
But, sadly we have a District and a County who are still at least 15 years behind the times. They would still be among those booing the new uniform. Week-by-week this doesn't affect us too badly, we carry on despite rather than because of the District & County team, but I know that my Explorers are missing out because we're not being supported, because those who should be helping seem only to be persuing their own agendas and self-importance.
We may be alone in our particular area, I hope we are, but whilst top and bottom of the Movement have changed for the better is it time for the "middle management" to be reformed?

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