Scout numbers on the rise across Shropshire
Scouts are on the rise in Shropshire, with hundreds more adults and children getting involved in the last year.
There are now 3,800 members of Shropshire Scouts across all age ranges, according to new figures.
Following a call out for more adult volunteers in 2017, 102 signed up in the last 12 months. These new adults have supported the growth of 100 new youth members, with a total of 1,000 adults and 2,900 young people.
Among the most successful have been Shifnal Scouts, which started only a few years ago.
A group of parents wanted to get their children involved in the movement, but there were no local groups to take them on.
Since starting their own branch, hundreds of people have got involved and it looks like numbers will continue to grow.
Michelle Gough, Group Scout Leader at Shifnal, said: "We only had about six children to begin with – three beavers and three cubs – which we worked as a single unit.
"Over time we've grown so much that we need to have two cubs, two scouts and two beaver sections. We have 156 children coming each week.
"We've opened a group for 14 to 18 year olds as well. We've got more and more children of that age wanting to come up to us, so we're having to set up a second group for that.
"It's great, because that age group is dropping by the wayside, but we have more and more coming to us."
Michelle attributes the rising numbers to the popularity of figureheads such as Bear Grylls, who is chief scout.
"He has been fabulous for Scouting," she said.
"He's on TV, he's doing bushcrash, climbing and canoeing. I think children see that and can see how fun it is and Scouting can provide that safe environment for that."
Dexter Williams, lead volunteer for Shropshire, said: "“It is great to see such strong growth for Scouting in the Shropshire, both in youth members and volunteers is a huge achievement.
“Much of this is down to our amazing volunteers. As one of the Shropshire’s leading youth charities, we’re acutely aware of the importance of all the volunteers in Shropshire who give up their time every single day to help others. With the majority of volunteers saying they feel more motivated, confident and more skilled as a result of the work they do with us, it’s not just those they’re helping who benefit.
“However, the fact that a third of full-time workers are not comfortable asking for more flexibility and understanding from their employer to enable them to volunteer, is concerning and shows that we need a national conversation on the ways businesses, big and small, can better develop policies that support flexible working practices for those who volunteer outside of work.
“With known benefits to workers productivity, confidence and the extra skills they are gaining - being more flexible clearly benefits employers as well as their staff.”
Grylls, a former SAS soldier and the presenter of The Island with Bear Grylls, is an active chief scout and tours the country visiting groups.
He said the growth of the scouts in Shifnal is replicated across the UK, adding: “I am so proud that The Scout Association UK continues to see so many young people and adult volunteers signing up to not only have fun, experience adventures but also learn skills for life.
"And that applies to both the young people and volunteers.
"Even though we have had record numbers of adults joining the movement we still have 57,000 young people who want to join and gain new skills but are unable to do so. If you want to make a difference to the lives of young people, feel more motivated and confident and learn some new skills then please give Scouting a go.”