Wednesday, 02 September 2015

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Plea for more adult volunteers to support Cumbria's Scouts

Increasing numbers of young Cumbrians are becoming Scouts – and more adult volunteers are needed to support them.

Bear Grylls photo
Chief Scout Bear Grylls

The annual Scouting census has revealed the organisation’s membership has grown nationally for the ninth successive year.

That trend’s been mirrored in Cumbria, with just over 4,200 young people now members of the movement in the county.

In the Reivers District, which covers Carlisle and the surrounding area, membership has increased by two per cent in the past 12 months, taking its total to 832.

Rising membership rates has brought with it rising demand for adult support so that even more youngsters can sign up to Scouting and enjoy its activities.

The number of adults volunteering with the movement has jumped by 136 in the past eight years to 704 – growing by 60 per cent to 140 in the Reivers’ area in the past seven years.

But the plea for more adults who can give some time continues.

Niki Iveson, a Scout leader from Carlisle, is among those shouting for support.

“Being a Scout leader is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done,” she said.

“It’s something I can do on a flexible basis when I have enough time to spare. It’s great helping young people get the most out of life and watching then develop week in, week out.

“I’ve also picked up loads of transferable skills that I’m able to use in my job and wider life.”

And it’s not just younger children who are sticking with Scouting.

Across Cumbria, the organisation’s teenager membership has increased by 19 per cent in the past.

The influence of television adventurer Bear Grylls as chief Scout has been credited with attracting more teenagers, many of whom are young leaders in other sections of the movement.

Mr Grylls says he’s “super proud” at the successes in Cumbria.

More girls are taking part too. Female membership in the past 13 years has risen from 111 to 639 across Cumbria – and from 20 to 157 in the Carlisle area. Countywide, more than 40 female Scouts have signed up in the past year.

The movement, whose image has evolved greatly in the past decade, still embraces camping and its other traditional pursuits.

It also embraces a lot of other adventure, with young members able to enjoy activities including glider flights, skiing and rock climbing.

In the Carlisle area, work has been enhanced by on-going upgrades at the organisation’s Ratlingate centre at Kirkandrews-on-Eden, where a new adventure barn was unveiled earlier this year. Young members say their involvement in Scouting has had a real impact on their lives.

Ben Goodman, a 17-year-old Explorer Scout from Carlisle, said: “Getting involved in Scouting is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I get the opportunity to take part in so many different things and get involved in helping my community, raising money for good causes and taking part in community events.”

Chris Mells, also 17, and an Explorer Scout from Kirkby Stephen, added: “I’ve enjoyed a huge wealth of activities which have really built me as a person, inspired me and created new friendships.”

Nationally, the Scout Association is launching a plan to recruit another 58,000 young people, as well as 18,000 more adult volunteers by 2018. Its current membership total is 550,000.



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