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Chief Commissioner's Blog | A great start to the Scouting year

In a world where charity governance is under scrutiny and newspaper headlines feature the latest ‘failings’, our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and #WeShape conference on Saturday demonstrated why UK Scouting can hold its head high…

A good balance

Periodically, we are told how our governance structure is ‘unusual’ and that for various reasons we need to make changes. For many outside of the Scout Movement, they find our balance of a federated model – protecting members’ interests and influence with the needs of ever more complex external scrutiny – somewhat challenging. 

However, we have been able to hold on to many of those values that continue to see volunteers at the very centre of our leadership and decision making, whilst making some changes to streamlining our activity, improving efficiency and effectiveness and ensuring that we have a good balance of internal as well as external contributors.

The AGM in Baden-Powell House – our 103rd AGM in fact – demonstrated this in many ways:

•    Not only did we have a full house, it was the first time I have seen standing room only for such a gathering, including the afternoon workshop!

•    A further 400 members participated online through live streaming, which included a question and answer session with questions via social media as well as from attendees in the room.

•    Liz Jack demonstrated that ‘grass roots’ members with no particular knowledge of Council Members can be elected to our governing body. Having responded to a social media call for applications, she was put in touch with her County Members of Council by the office, was nominated and was elected.

•    Similarly, Jane Simpson, an occasional helper, was identified though an external search process for Appointed Trustees, along with Lexi Sims, who has no Scouting experience but has been appointed to the Board of Trustees also. For me, both of these demonstrate how open we are to grass roots engagement in these processes along with the appointment of individuals with particular skills and experiences to help shape the future of our Movement.

•    Nearly one thousand members participated in the #WeShape conference online on Saturday afternoon as well as another full house at B-P House.  Most impressively just about everyone stayed to the very end of the day!

Though we will continue to refine such events, I very much believe that our commitment to openness and transparency in all that we do, including our governance, continues to go from strength to strength.

Don’t miss out

For those of you that missed the day, you can catch up with all of the key note addresses including detailed answers on Compass, our current and future strategy and the questions and answers session at scouts.org.uk/weshape.

We were particularly fortunate to be joined in the afternoon by Dame Julia Cleverdon, who made an exceptionally entertaining as well as thought-provoking speech on her experiences and the role that Scouting plays in the ambitions of youth social action and Step Up to Serve in particular. Well worth a look for those of you who didn’t see it at the time.

The past two weeks, with Gilwell Reunion and the AGM, have got the Scouting year off to an excellent start and I know that locally you will have had similarly positive experiences at the beginning of the new Scouting term. 

While we have seen many challenges over the past 12 months and remain committed to addressing these, it has been good also to celebrate the many successes that you are having locally and we are progressing in supporting you in achieving those nationally.




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