OVER 500 of the UK’s Scout Groups are facing severe financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19. While the majority of the UK’s Scout Groups are back up and running face-to-face or online, the future of over 500 Scout Groups is bleak.
Social distancing regulations have prevented these Scout Groups from raising money through their typical fundraisers such as supermarket bag packs, firework displays, jumble sales and quiz nights. A recent survey conducted by Scouts has shown that if these groups don’t receive additional funding, they may be forced to close.
In response, Scouts are launching a major new fundraising campaign #RaceRoundTheWorld to raise enough money to save the 500+ at risk Scout Groups.
The race challenges Scouts to travel as many miles as they can to contribute to a virtual tour of the world.
Many Scout Groups at risk of closing are based in communities that were vulnerable before COVID-19 hit and were already struggling. These groups are often in inner-city areas where young people most need support. Being part of Scouts often offers opportunities and experiences young people wouldn’t otherwise have in these areas.
Right now, it’s particularly vital that everything’s done to give young people the support they need. Scouts offer them the chance to have adventures and develop skills for life outside formal education. It teaches them to never give up – to get back up and try again, often with the support of the friends they’ve made along the way.
The 1st Xscape Scout Group serves the communities of Pontefract and Castleford and is one of the Scout Groups in need of support. This Scout Group supports many young people with additional needs and the young people benefit from the sense of community and support it provides.
The Scout Group usually funds itself through membership fees and raises extra funds through a series of events such as jumble sales, quiz nights and car washes. They have very few reserves and need to cover the basics like heating and lighting costs. They are now worried about their long term survival and the impact possible closure would have on the future of the young people they support.
Chief Scout Bear Grylls, said:
“As Scouts, we always support each other – and in today’s tough climate, where we all need inspiration and community, we are taking part altogether in our Race Round the World. 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.”
Stephanie Hines, Group Scout Leader from 55th North Billing Scout Group said:
“We’re getting hit with a triple whammy – our leaders are finding it tough as they’re exhausted from working, we’re short of cash because we lost our main summer fundraiser, and we are not sure if our young people will come back unless we can secure our usual meeting place. We don’t need much, but without the immediate funds to pay running costs we can’t support the young people who need us.”
Amy Robinson, 17 from Rossendale said:
“To hear that some Scout Groups may be closing is really upsetting, especially when my Scout Group is like my second family. For this reason, it was a no brainer to get all my friends and family to sponsor me to hike a mile to help other Scout Groups continue to give people like me so many new and exciting opportunities.”
Scouts across the UK will be challenged to travel at least 172,000 miles collectively in their local areas and raise £300,000 in sponsorship. Chief Scout, Bear Grylls will start the race, challenging everyone to travel as many miles as they can (or complete an equivalent activity) towards their team’s total distance and asking friends and family to sponsor them. Four Scout teams will race to complete the 43,000 miles each and will be captained by celebrity Scout Ambassadors Tim Peake, Ellie Simmonds (Team Beavers) Helen Glover and Steve Backshall (Team Cubs) Ed Stafford and Saray Khumalo (Team Scouts) and Dwayne Fields and Megan Hine (Team Explorers and Network+), who’ll be cheering everyone on all the way.
Visit scouts.org.uk/raceroundtheworld to sign up to travel a mile or more towards #RaceRoundTheWorld and to find out more about the campaign.