Norfolk scouts calls for more adult volunteers as boom in popularity causes waitlist to reach record high

Lowestoft and District Scouts Cookery Competition. Pictures: MICK HOWES

Lowestoft and District Scouts Cookery Competition. Pictures: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

Children across the county are finding themselves stuck on waiting lists to join local Scout groups due to a shortage of adult volunteers.

Scouts see boom in popularity across Norfolk. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Scouts see boom in popularity across Norfolk. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norfolk is one of fastest growing locations in the UK for scouting but that growth is outpacing the number of adult volunteers who are able to lend their support.

The waiting list for the county has now reached approximately 400 and that is despite the organisation also recording their highest number of adult volunteers.

Matthew Burrell, county commissioner for Scouts in Norfolk, said: 'The number of adults who volunteer hasn't gone down but the number of young people has gone up – this year we recorded the highest number of adult volunteers but young people still outstrip it.

'The population across Norfolk is growing and there is also a growing amount of advocacy for the skills and activities that we provide to young people because, as we like to say, parents want their children to have more green time, not screen time. Our activities take young people outside and we become an extension to their education.'

Girlguiding has not seen any impact on their numbers despite the growing number of girls joining Sco

Girlguiding has not seen any impact on their numbers despite the growing number of girls joining Scouts. Photo: Helen Green - Credit: Dereham Girl Guides


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Mr Burrell added that another cause of the boom in popularity is a growing awareness that Scouts is now open to all young people and not just boys. In 2011 more girls than boys became scouts for the first time in the movement's history.

'A third of our membership is now female and that figure is young people and adult volunteers, we anticipate that it will soon be fifty-fifty. People are becoming more aware that we're open to a wider audience,'

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The struggle for more volunteers is a nationwide issue and the Scout Association is now on a recruitment drive. Their latest figures indicate that the number of young people on waitlists has rocketed to 51,000 – the highest it has ever been.

Mr Burrell said: 'Volunteering puts some really great skills onto your CV that you wouldn't normally be able to gain in most work places. It is particularly good if you are looking to move into leadership or management or management-focused jobs because it is managing situations where there is very little money and not much time available. It is a unique set of skills and it's a lot of fun.'

If you would like to volunteer for the scouts you can telephone them on 01603 502246 or email join@norfolkscouts.org.ukHow popular is Girlguiding?

Girlguiding is the largest girl-only youth organisation in the country and they are supported by around 100,000 volunteers.

Despite girls making up a big percentage of new youth recruits at Scouts, it has had little imapact on the number of girls joining Guides. Their numbers have remained steady at around 500,000 members nationwide over the past five years.

A spokesperson for Girlguiding said: 'Girlguiding is extremely pleased that Scouting continues to grow. Guiding and Scouting share a common foundation and heritage and together we deliver exciting opportunities to around a million young people.

'It's fantastic that young women have the choice of joining both Guiding and Scouting. Our young members repeatedly tell us that being girl-only is one of the things they value most about guiding and so we will continue to provide this – ensuring girls continue to have a choice.'

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