Making a difference

Making a difference

01 December 2016

Empowering young people to make a positive contribution to society has been an important part of Scouting since we began.

So we’re delighted to see more than 14,000 Scottish Scouts signing up to A Million Hands, an initiative to encourage Scouts of all ages to make a difference by getting involved in projects that support four causes, chosen by our young people themselves.

For Community Week this year  we’re going to be showcasing some of the amazing work going on across the country, and celebrating the community impact work you carry out all year round.

We caught up with some Leaders to find out more about what community projects you’ve been doing and the impact it has made.

Opening up about Mental Health

Mental Health is a hugely relevant issue for many young people, but particularly those in their teenage years, so Chapelhall Explorer Leader Lorna was pleased when her Unit chose to explore this for A Million Hands. The Explorers decided to work with local charity Chris’s House, a respite centre for people in crisis, to understand more about how to support people with mental health issues, and are planning to write to local schools to suggest ways to help pupils with their mental health.

“The project has made a massive impact on the Explorers. I know a few have already talked to people suffering from mental health problems and felt they have made a difference. Most of our Explorers are Young Leaders so can also take their knowledge to the younger age groups within Scouting. 

“Mental health and suicide needs so much more attention and awareness. The Explorers are at an age where it can affect them personally and they are mature enough to help others. Some of the chats we have had as a Unit have been heated, emotional, and eye-opening! The benefits of this will only keep giving,” said Lorna.

Supporting dementia through local partnership

When a Scout group in Glasgow chose to explore dementia as the cause to support for A Million Hands, Scout Leader Colin knew he’d need help answering all their questions. He got in touch with Alzheimer Scotland and through working with their local dementia advisor, the Scouts became educated in what it’s like to live with dementia and were inspired to do more to help raise awareness and support in their local community.

“During Dementia Awareness Week in June we held a coffee morning at the church. We had people from the church, families, friends, relatives and people off the street joining us to learn more about dementia and get support from Richard. 

“Dementia is an issue that affects many of our Scouts on a personal level and we got to see the local impact of what we were doing. I’d really like to thank Richard for all his time and effort. His support enabled us to take things on to the next level and get the message out to the wider community and deliver positive community impact,” said Colin.

Understanding the challenges of disability

Airdrie Cubs wanted to better understand the challenges involved in living with a visual or hearing impairment for their A Million Hands project. Through participating in a range of activities, the Cubs have learned more about the challenges faced by people who have disabilities and that they can make a difference by working together.

“Starting to talk about these issues at a young age is crucial to show children and young adults that people face different challenges throughout their life, and how helping others through community action can make a difference,” Said Cub Leader Daniel.

Glenrothes Explorers also wanted to raise awareness of disability for A Million Hands. Working with Leonard Cheshire, they organised a walk around Loch Leven with some of the charity’s clients and their carers, to assess the walk for accessibility.

“We had a really great day spending time with the guys from Leonard Cheshire Disability. Through walking with them and chatting to them, the Explorers gained a better understanding of disability and developed genuine insight into the lives of the young people at Leonard Cheshire Disability and the extra amount of effort it takes to achieve anything,” said Explorer Leader Andy Crumpton.

Cleaning up the canals

Inverness Scouts have been helping to clean up their local waterways as part of their A Million Hands project to raise awareness of the importance of clean water and sanitation. The Scouts also wanted to gain greater understanding of how people cope with limited access to clean water in other parts of the world, so carried out a series of challenges and activities to help them gain that insight.

 “We all had to make a contraption to collect water from a bottle, only using paper cups, paper, plastic or paper bags, string and straws and only two groups managed to make something that worked!” said Scout Connor Pittman.

“We also used a soap dispenser pump to show how water is collected from underneath the ground, carried bottles across the Scout Hall to demonstrate just how much water children from other countries have to carry each day, and decided which items should be flushed down the toilet or binned. These activities all made us think about how fortunate we are to have clean water.”

Find out more about community impact