Scout groups at risk of closure due to pandemic restrictions
- Credit: Archant
Scout groups in some of the poorest parts of Norfolk are at risk of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scout Association said the groups were facing “severe financial difficulty” and a “bleak” future as social-distancing rules had left them unable to raise money through their usual methods.
Matthew Burrell, county commissioner for Norfolk Scouts, said groups in Norwich, King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth were amongst those facing the biggest challenges.
He said: “We have got some groups in areas of deprivation that don’t have a great amount of reserves for a period like this.
“The impact of not meeting face-to-face affects things like the jumble sales, car boot sales, fete and quiz nights which as well as adding a real social element to those communities also bring in some really helpful funds to subside scouting.”
MORE: ‘Children are the real losers’ - Fears raised over impact of potential Holt Hall closureNorfolk has a high number of scout groups that do not have their own premises and instead rely on meeting in village halls, schools or community buildings.
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Mr Burrell said: “What quite a lot of them are finding is because of the extra coronavirus security needed some of these meeting places are not available. That is adding an extra cost burden and is certainly a worry for our volunteers.”
The Scout Association has now launched a major fundraising campaign to try and save those most at risk, with a virtual race around the world. Scouts are being challenged to travel 172,000 miles collectively in their local areas.
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Some 7,300 Scout groups across the UK have joined the effort so far in a bid to raise £300,000.
Chief Scout Bear Grylls, said: “Scouting plays a fundamental role in the lives of thousands of young people, giving them skills and hope for the future.
“That is now more vital than ever. I am so proud of those doing their mile in support of those hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Norfolk Scouts switched to online activities after face-to-face meetings were suspended in March.
MORE: Lawnmower and trailers stolen as scout group targeted by thievesRemote scouting has included young people camping in their gardens, a Scout in the House challenge and even an online talk from an astronaut.
With residential trips and summer camps cancelled, a digital jamboree Box-Jam in August saw 1,100 participants taking part in 100 different online activities.
Mr Burrell said: “The resilience of scouting is phenomenal. We have tried really hard to keep young people engaged. The volunteers have worked incredibly hard.
“Normality is a little way off and because we are a social group we have to apply the full social distancing rules. That is incredibly challenging. What you can deliver as a programme like that is quite limited.”