Section A – Actions you can take. These have all worked in one or more Lewisham Groups.
- A Parent Rota
This has worked in many Groups. If a section is lacking leaders then a meeting with the parents to say you need more volunteers to keep the programme lively and exciting often pays dividends. No parent wants their youngster to miss out. Suggest parents offer once a month so it does not seem a big ask. This often results in the parent enjoying it so much that they want to stay and becoming a sectional assistant or leader.
- Set up an Adult Recruitment Team
If you need more volunteers set up a team of 3-5 people who could be parents or members of the Group Executive Committee. They can then work (with support from the District) on recruiting people (probably mostly parents) to uniformed or support roles as needed. Often you find that members of the recruitment team end up recruiting themselves to key roles.
- Build up your Group Executive (GEC)
Build up your GEC so that you have more contacts, which creates a better network and support. (You may need to set up an Adult Recruitment team to do this – see above.) And make sure that one member of the GEC takes the lead on adult recruitment so it doesn’t get forgotten.
- Build up partnerships with local groups
Use your contacts on the Group Executive or the members of the Adult Recruitment team to create partnerships with local churches, community centres, and schools. This again can draw in help. Advertise that you need help on community noticeboards. Get your parents to chat with other parents when they pick up their children from school. Have a group vacancy board if, for example, you need a secretary. State specifically what help you need
- Have Fun – build up a social base.
Identify parents who may wish to run social events. This can create energy. Parents get to know each other; friendships form through scouting contact and before you know it there is a common desire to volunteer. A parent Group may turn into a parent committee/supporters’ group that could run a quiz, bingo, disco or a fundraising event etc. Why not set up a Group Scout Active Support Unit to keep people involved on a more formal basis? This can all lead to helping on a more regular basis
- Run Group Activities.
One good example is where Groups have run family camps. It is amazing how quickly friendships among adults form while on camp and you can then tap into this by signing people up to become adult helpers etc. It is also great fun! Other activities involving parents where it can also pay dividends. At a Group sports day have parent races and make sure you get parents involved say as judges. It could be a small step that with the right encouragement may lead to an offer of help. Wherever possible involve the parents and give them jobs to do to enhance their sense of belonging.
- Use social media.
Find people with IT skills to set up your own Group website. Have a Group Facebook page. One Lewisham Group has reported that they have had volunteers coming through their Facebook page during the Covid period. WhatsApp is another platform that some Lewisham Groups use to engage successfully with parents. The great thing about social media is that it free!
- Make use of your Annual General Meeting.
The business side of the meeting is (quite rightly) often very short. This allows you to use some of the time to have the young people and parents there to see presentations and awards of badges. A demonstration by says the cub scouts also goes down well. Provide refreshments (cheese and wine?) to encourage parents to associate the Group and what it offers with an enjoyable evening. This is also the opportunity to invite past members and local people such as other community leaders. This is where with young people looking on you can, through your powers of persuasion, encourage some of the adults to sign up to help. Breaking jobs down into small bite-size chunks also helps and encourages people to say okay that is manageable I will do that. It also means you may encourage the right person to do something more in the future.
- Draw up a skills list of Instructors
Invite local people who have skills to lay on activity/demonstration with say the scout section. It could be a football coach, a self-defense expert, someone with an interesting hobby eg a stamp collector. It may then lead to them getting more involved and at the same time you build up a more interesting programme. We suggest you draw up a skills list of Instructors. (And why not find out the parents’ skills and interests at the time their child joins.)
- Involve Past Members
Try and keep past members involved via email, Facebook, etc. A reunion on a reasonably regular basis can create energy and may lead to an interest in one or two getting back into scouting. Two Groups have done this in the past. If someone moves on keep them involved in some way. We have a GSL running a
A group from China and our District Web Technician live in Worcester. Anything is possible! Some past members may make a good President or a Vice President. Have a Presidential team – again another resource to be called upon. Keep people in the ” keep net “!! Stay in contact with older members/explorers – they may be your future young leaders.
- Roll out the welcome mat and have a great Programme
Ask yourself how welcoming are we as a Group. Do you put the welcome mat out to a newcomer? Do you appreciate and value the help that is offered? These particular actions are so important in building up your Group. We know of new people who have said they turned up to help but were just left on the sidelines!! We are sure this will not happen in your Group. Retention is as important as recruitment! Finally, and very importantly make sure you have a great product with a brilliant programme.
- Finally, Change the Culture – Think Differently.
• Leave the past behind – remember that we don’t have to do what we have always done;
• Think flexibly – we don’t have to be constrained by traditional job titles and roles. If someone on shift work can only help twice a month welcome the offer rather than saying “we really wanted someone every week”.
• Break roles down as small as possible; it’s easier to recruit to small roles. For example, if the Group Secretary role is too much for one person try breaking it down into two or three smaller roles.
• Don’t do it all at once – start with something easy, perhaps recruit a troop administrator to register the scouts, collect scouts and handle the paperwork;
• Make sure that everyone knows what your Group’s top priorities are. If the recruitment is one of them, they will be alert to opportunities for help that
might otherwise be missed.
• Don’t stop recruiting. The only thing we know for sure about every one of our volunteers is one day they won’t be there. It doesn’t matter if we have too
many helpers; it’s more fun and maybe they can have a week off occasionally. If we recruit so we have more people than the minimum we need it’s much
easier to recruit from that pool when someone leaves. One Group in Lewisham had the entire troop leader team resign as a result of a dispute but, because the Group had kept all their parents involved and active, they were able to recruit a complete leadership team within two weeks!
If you need further help or would like to know who can help you, please download the fact sheet below.