I cannot believe that it is time for the County AGM again and I am writing my fourth annual report regarding the fantastic Scouting that is taking place across Solihull on a weekly basis thanks to so many committed and wonderful volunteers. AGM time always gives me an opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the last year and to think about the year to come.
This time last year I was reporting that our numbers of youth members had increased and this year continues this trend, albeit with a slightly more modest growth of 2.5%. Due to the hard work of many leaders and parents, we now have more youth members than ever with 2408 regularly involved, including a re-opened 1st Hampton-in-Arden Scout Troop. This is a 16% increase on our numbers just five years ago. Our adult membership has seen a slight decrease of 0.6% to 567 adults with appointments, but that number does not recognise the many Occasional Helpers who we could not manage without.
Our young people have had amazing opportunities both at their section nights and at District and County events to gain many badges along the way. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to present so many top Scouting awards, and many Explorers have also achieved Duke of Edinburgh awards. Whilst we did not have any Queen’s Scouts during the last year, I am sure that we will see some of those achieving Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards also completing their QSA shortly.
There have been many things to celebrate over the last 12 months – the amazing activities, trips and learning of new skills which our young people have experienced; the increasing co-operation and mutual support across groups and districts; and the launch of our fantastic new website. But there have also been challenges to be dealt with, particularly in recruiting new volunteers to manager, leader and supporter roles alike; dealing with some teething troubles with the new website; and in protecting the welfare of vulnerable young people and adults. I welcome the greater openness in talking about mental health and about unseen disabilities
and I can foresee that we will need to focus on better preparing ourselves to support these young people and adults.
Nationally the Scouts is moving forward with programmes of work to further support us in preparing young people with skills for life. This includes digital programme planning tools, off the shelf programmes and simplifying training. There are plans to improve the way that we recruit and welcome adults into Scouting and to review the provision of Scouting to the 14 to 25 year olds. More information on all of these workstreams and more can be found on the Scouts website.
I know that we already have amazing leaders here in Solihull and it has been my privilege to present long service and good service awards to quite a few of them. If you know of others who you think deserve recognition, then please let Ian Carnell know – there’s a link on the website to make it easy for you.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has a County or District role for their much valued support. And I would like to thank everyone involved in Scouting in Solihull for everything that you do, whether it’s weekly, monthly or just once a year. As Baden-Powell said “the most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others” and I think that is what we do.