Regional Development Service, Burnley (Youth United Project)

Project: HYPE Scout Group, Burnley (Helping Young People Engage)            

Aim: To engage under-represented sections of the community in Scouting, by setting up new and flexible provision in these areas.

Background: The Burnley Youth United Project, targets areas of Burnley that are ranked highly on the Index of Multiple Deprivation, and areas where there are large areas populated by ethnic minorities, to start new and innovative Scouting provision. It is a nationally funded project from central government through the Youth United Foundation. There is a portfolio of these projects running right across the country within uniformed youth organisations including the Scout Association.

Approach: The Regional Development Officer leading this project has worked in the Burnley area for a number of years for various community based organisations. Using her knowledge of the area, she approached other community based organisations that were operating activities for children and young people, from community venues led by local volunteers. The majority of these organisations were really enthused by the idea of starting new Scouting provision in their venues, using their current volunteers, and attracting the wider community as well as the children and young people they already engage.

Initially, a number of community taster sessions were delivered in the venues to generate interest within the community, and also to give the volunteers the opportunity to try delivering Scouting activities. These were advertised through the venues and the local schools.

The success of the taster sessions have led to the current status of the project, where fifty percent of the Group’s volunteers have now been appointed and have completed their initial training. The other half, currently have their DBS checks being processed.

Group structure: To reduce the chance of the new Group being intimidated by the complexities of Scout Group structures, Hype Scout Group is set-up as a combination of two different new provision projects. The lead contacts work regularly on other community development projects together and felt this was the easiest and most comfortable way for them to get started. One venue (Fraser Street) runs a weekly meeting on a Monday tea time from 5.30-6.30pm as a combined Beavers and Cubs section. They have 4 adult Leaders, 1 Young Leader and 16 children attending currently. This area of Burnley is predominantly made up of White British residents but it is a deprived area of the town. The second venue (Burnley Campus) runs a weekly meeting on a Saturday afternoon from 1.30-3pm as a combined Beavers, Cubs and Scouts section. They have 4 adult Leaders, 4 Young Leaders and 32 children attending currently. This area of Burnley is made up of families from a South Asian background, predominantly Pakistani, but the area is also deprived.

As the members of the Group come from such diverse backgrounds, the lead contacts are keen for there to be joint events and meetings programmed on a regular basis. They see this as a great benefit of structuring the Group in this way, but they also feel like they have their own internal support network to develop the Group in whatever way suits their own communities.

Next steps: There are some clear developments that need to take place within this Group, however it is also important that the volunteers leading the Group take ownership of the direction of this new provision, to ensure it is sustainable and continues to meet their needs.

  • Continue to progress the appointments and training of the new volunteers
  • Establish a formal link for the Group into existing District support and networking
  • Develop the Group more formally through programming and resource allocation to gradually introduce the principles and fundamentals of Scouting

Kate Reid, Regional Development Officer – Burnley, November 2013