New Year Message | 2018

New Year Message | 2018

01 January 2018

Chief Commissioner Graham Haddock reflects on a fantastic 2017 and shares what is ahead for Scottish Scouting in 2018.

The New Year is traditionally a time to reflect on what has happened in the previous year and to look forward to what might be ahead of us in the year ahead. As ever there was much to celebrate in Scouting in Scotland in 2017 and so much to look forward to in 2018.

2017’s census figures were again encouraging. Scotland experienced its 11th consecutive year of youth member growth with an increase of 1.8% and growth in all of our Sections. We also witnessed significant growth in our adult membership taking our total membership to over 50,000 for the first time this century.

This steady growth, over many years, puts us in an excellent position to build on our successes and deliver quality Scouting to even more young people as we move forward into 2018.

2017 highlights

So what were the highlights of the past year? As ever, there were so many, so I will only focus on a few.

In January, the new SHQ website was launched and was well received. Regular updates keep our members informed of activities and events being run across the country.

Shortly thereafter we launched our Youth Approved Scheme and Youth Advocacy Award. Both are critical in their own way in fostering our youth involvement strategy. The Youth Approved Award embeds meaningful youth involvement at Section, Group, District, and Region level.

Our Youth Advocacy Award allows politicians at the Scottish Parliament to learn a little about what we do in Scouting. This can only benefit us moving forward. The more they know about us and what we do, the more they are likely to support the issues that we are all passionate about…..and potentially provide funds to help us grow and develop further.

Recognition for youth work

In March, Gillian Caldwell and Robert Anderson were announced as runners-up in their respective categories at the National Youth Worker of the Year Awards. Gillian was nominated in the Inspirational Leadership category and Robert in the Volunteer Youth Worker of the Year category. These nominations give testament to just how much Scouting, and its dedicated army of volunteers, is respected by the wider youth work sector in Scotland.

Also in March, fifteen trainers from across Scotland attended a weekend workshop in March to learn how to deliver the new Manager & Supporter Training Scheme. In May, this group met together to plan the content of the various skills courses associated with this new training. The first skills workshops have now taken place and have been warmly received by participants.

A huge debt of thanks is due to all those who help deliver adult training across Scotland. Training teams are key to helping our adult membership improve the quality of Scouting that they deliver locally.

In April, a small but effective team representing Scouts Scotland attended the UK Summit17. Significant progress was made during the weekend to shape Scouting’s strategy for 2018-2023. This is in its final stages of preparation awaiting its launch in 2018….but more of that later.

WSJ Leadership teams

In June, we appointed six excellent leadership teams to prepare the Scottish Units attending the next World Scout Jamboree in North America in 2019. Young people have now been selected from across Scotland to take part in what many describe as the adventure of a lifetime.

Together with the adult leadership teams, they have much work to do to prepare for this amazing adventure.

In September, our three national activity centres formally joined the UK Scout Adventures brand. This development will allow us to grow and develop as part of a bigger UK network of activity centres and further improve both the facilities and activities that our centres offer. New signage should appear around the centres in early 2018.

The third meeting of the National Youth Advisory Group was held on 10th November 2017. This group is starting to bed in nicely and relationships with our key committees at Scouts Scotland are being developed and cemented in place. Regional and District Youth Advisory Groups are beginning to establish themselves across Scouting in Scotland. We need to do what we can to support our young people in trying to shape their Scouting, at every level.

Championing diversity

In the same month, Scouts Scotland publicly supported the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign. Positive press coverage of this event was received from both of Scotland’s two broadsheet newspapers; the Herald and the Scotsman. The TIE campaign has one very simple aim: to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia with inclusive education. 

Scouting in Scotland has also warmly embraced the A Million Hands’ community impact project. In the past year, we have completed 529 community impact projects in Scotland; some with our AMH partners and others with local charities and groups. However you have engaged in this work, please accept my sincere thanks. Scouting has always made a positive impact on our communities and this year has been no exception.

Youth involvement, inclusion and diversity and community impact have been at the heart of our work in the past few years. While I am proud of our achievements to date, we still have much to do in each of these areas of work.

Looking ahead

But enough of 2017; what about the year ahead? What exciting opportunities does 2018 hold for Scottish Scouting?

Perhaps the most important opportunity to look out for will be our new strategy which will start in 2018 and run until 2023. This is being finalised just now but I expect it will continue our work in youth involvement, growth, inclusion and diversity and community impact. It will prioritise our work in three new areas; People, Programme and Perception.

We need to improve how we support and develop our adult volunteers. We need to help our section leaders deliver a high-quality programme to the benefit of our youth members. We also need to work to further improve how the wider world views what we do and how we do it.

Supporting this new strategy will be a new brand proposition. Not just a new and exciting logo but a fresh and exciting way to describe what Scouting is and does. Having seen some early drafts of this work, I am truly excited by what the final brand might look like.

You will also get a new Chief Commissioner in the coming year. It has been a great privilege and pleasure to hold this appointment for almost seven years. I have many warm memories of visiting almost every part of the country at some point during my time in post, and I have no doubt that I will miss the cut and thrust of headquarters debates as much as I will miss visiting Section meetings, camps, activity days, Gang Shows and recognising service and achievement by presenting youth and adult awards. I hope you will warmly welcome my successor when he or she is identified and offer them the same enthusiastic support that you have offered to me.

Celebrating young people's achievements

Finally, 2018 is Scotland’s Year of Young People. The themes for the year cover a wide range of issues: culture, education, enterprise and regeneration, equality and discrimination, health and wellbeing and participation. These chime well with our own youth involvement and inclusion and diversity work. It is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing young personalities, talents, and achievers that make up Scotland.

It is about inspiring our nation through its young people’s ideas, attitudes and ambitions, and our youth members have ideas, attitudes and ambitions in spades. We need to help them express these in this exciting year. Help Scouts Scotland lead the charge in making 2018’s Year of Young People a great success.

2017 has been a great Scouting year. 2018 has the potential to be even greater. I hope you will all embrace the change that 2018 will bring and help build Scouting’s future success in the years ahead. If we keep focussed on what is really important in Scouting, our young people, we cannot fail.

Please accept my sincere thanks for all you do for Scouting locally and across Scotland. Our Movement would be nothing without our truly superb army of volunteers. You should all be very proud of what we do, and how well we do it.

Happy New Year!

Graham Haddock

Chief Commissioner of Scotland