Scouting is part of the community, and can benefit considerably by using community resources to the full. More importantly, by integrating itself into the community, scouting can contribute to the wider range of activities and organisations provided in it.
Community relations is about making contacts, meeting people and getting involved in the community and his chapter contains advice on how you might build relations.
When considering how the group can develop you need to know your local community. There is little point in having great expansion plans if, for example, you do not have an adequate population of young people.
Look at the community in terms of scouting – what is the population of young people and their ages, what is the population of adults for recruitment potential, where are the schools and are they expanding or contracting, what is the potential for older or retired people who may have time available?
Unless you are aware of these factors you may be planning in a vacuum and setting yourself unachievable targets.
This may not only be the physical location of the group, but it is the surrounding community. To what extent can you exploit it to support the group?
Understanding communities is important, again because we may have expectations that cannot be met. Some long standing groups started where there was a local community but population has shifted and now the group is isolated and is not a part of this community today.
New groups may be formed in developing areas with new housing but no community. Maybe it is a commuter area where many local people spend most of their time outside the area where they live.
Consider which applies to you and check that your plans take your situation into account.
What else exists in your community that can help your group? What businesses; community resources, (such as libraries, leisure centres, retail centres, etc?) and local religious centres may be of help to your group and establishing contact may be important to you.
What other youth services exist? These may be of help or they may be competing for membership.
Establishing a positive link with local schools is beneficial. They are a good source of recruitment particularly for the younger sections and may be amenable to you putting on displays and recruitment events. Contact our County Development Commissioner for advice and support in running school assemblies, (you can contact Karla by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you use school premises for meetings it may serve you well to have someone sit on the governing body that may be able to influence decisions relating to amenities and charging. They may even provide an opportunity for sharing resources.
You need to be aware of the support available from your local council. They may well be a source of funds and resources.
Get to know local councillors who may be prepared to represent scouting’s interests. Make sure they have the opportunity to be seen doing good work on behalf of scouting in your local area.
The work of community based organisations such as the National Trust, Help the Aged and Save the Children often compliments that of The Scout Association. Their help, advice and resources may also benefit your group. Relationships with local residents' associations and other community groups are important too.
Why not ...
- make contact with your local residents’ or community association
- find out about local environmental groups and get involved in a local conservation project
- visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau or drop-in centre
- hold a social evening for families and local residents.
Many Scout Groups are sponsored by places of worship, schools, industrial concerns or community associations. Community based organisations are often willing to provide equipment, meeting facilities and other resources in order to provide scouting for the Community.
Such partnerships are vital in supporting the Scout Group and should be encouraged.
Why not ...
- invite a representative of your group's sponsoring authority to your Colony, Pack or Troop meetings
- take part in the activities of your sponsoring organisation
- invite representatives of current and potential sponsoring organisations to a seminar or social gathering and tell them about scouting today, and how they might help;
- approach a local place of worship, industrial concern, residents’ association or school inviting them to sponsor your Scout Group.
Places of Worship
Places of worship are often a focal point for the local community. It is important for all Scout Groups (not just sponsored scout groups), to develop relationships and maintain contact with local places of worship.
- find out about religious faiths different to your own
- visit a Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Templeor Gurdwara etc.
- discuss spiritual development and the Association's Religious Policy
- invite a local religious leader to act as your religious adviser.
Minority Ethnic Communities
Scouting is a multi-cultural, multi-faith youth movement and relationships with members of minority ethnic communities are important.
Young people from these communities can enjoy scouting in an existing group or in a new Scout Group perhaps based on their own culture and faith. Information on other cultures helps all our members to understand the multicultural aspect of scouting.
Why not ...
- visit your local Racial Equality Council
- invite someone from another country to discuss what scouting and life is like there
- hold a multi-cultural evening with music, dance, food and dress from other cultures
- make contact with the leaders of minority ethnic communities locally
- recruit members from minority ethnic communities into membership of your Group.
There are many issues that affect the society in which we live. Many of these issues are of particular interest to the work of the Youth Service and to youth organisations. It is important that Members of the Movement involve themselves in the process of decision making and become more aware of major social issues at local, national and international level through the Association's training programme.
Why not ...
- identify a local controversial issue, follow its progress in the local press, at council meetings etc., then find out the facts to all sides of the argument and discuss your findings at a Troop meeting
- invite a speaker from the Family Planning Association or Friends of the Earth
- explore the effects of homelessness and other forms of poverty and produce an eye-catching poster.
Many local Councillors and Members of Parliament support the Movement's work, both locally and nationally. Sometimes the Association is asked for its help and views concerning matters influencing the Youth Service.
Why not ...
- contact your local Councillor(s) or MP(s) or MEP(s)
- ask your local MP to show you round the Houses of Parliament
- invite representatives from local political parties to discuss a current issue
- research a local social problem and present your findings to the appropriate local authority department or your local Councillor
- visit a local Council meeting.
Scouting is complimentary to formal education and relationships with local schools, colleges and the Local Education Authority are important.
Schools often include scouting in their extracurricular activities and project work, while many more meet on school premises. Student Scout and Guide Clubs exist at universities and colleges throughout the United Kingdom enabling young people to continue their scouting when they leave home to continue their education.
Why not ...
- recruit members from local schools and colleges
- borrow transport or other resources from the Local Education Authority
- contact your local Student Scout and Guide Club
- approach the Parent/Teacher Association or Governors of your local school
- offer to help out at an open day or other school event.
Scouting plays an active role in the Youth Service by working in partnership with other voluntary organisations such as Girl Guiding the Boys' Brigade, Youth Clubs UK, Woodcraft Folk and with local Youth Service agencies such as Councils for Voluntary Youth Services.
Why not ...
- carry out joint activities with local your Guide units
- visit a youth club or Boys' Brigade meeting and exchange programmes
- invite members of another youth organisation to one of your meetings
- as a District, gain a seat on the local youth committee
- join or help start a Local Youth Council.
Know Your Neighbours!
Many Counties and Districts have an Assistant County or District Commissioner to undertake this work locally. In a Scout Group this is usually undertaken by the Group Scout Leader and the Group Chairperson.
Why not think about...
- what you are doing to improve your relationships with others in your community
- how you can get more involved in your community
- how you can devise your own agenda for action on how you can improve relationships in your community