July – the month we turned Amber

July has been quite a mixed month for several reasons. On a personal front I received some devastating news about a close family member, but also some exciting news from my children – including my daughter gaining an excellent degree result and also completing her Wood Badge as an ACSL at 71st Reading. The weather has been mixed too and I’m sure I’m not the only one who watched the rain and sun alternately beating down over a weekend and thought sadly “we should have been camping now”.

On 06 July our Scouting readiness level changed to Amber which meant that small groups could now meet outside – if leaders want to. I am aware that some sections are keen to take this up, some are content to carry on meeting virtually and some will be taking a break until at least September. It is important that you make the decision that is right for you and your fellow leaders.

At the start of the month The Scouts launched the process for the submission and approval of risk assessments with a number of webinars and pages of information on the national website. We had to quickly put in place our own strategy for managing the risk assessment approvals and have established a panel of experienced leaders with a wealth of Scouting and health and safety knowledge. In this way we can achieve a consistent approach and aim to turn around decisions within 5 days. More details can be found at www.solihullscouts.org.uk/coronavirus which includes some helpful tips. We are also planning to share some good examples soon.

I’d like to thank the panel members for agreeing to take on this additional role and all those who’ve submitted risk assessments for their enthusiasm. I know that there has been some teething issues at all stages of the process which has been frustrating for those involved, but given that it hasn’t even been three weeks yet since that change to Amber, I think we’ve done well. Earlier this week it was nice to see photos of 2nd Balsall Common Scouts on a hike and then being presented with the badges they had earned through lockdown.

It’s impossible to predict when we might move to Yellow, but we also need to be prepared that we might move back to Red at a local or national level. There is so much uncertainty still in our Scouting lives – for some this also includes not knowing if they can even return to their meeting place in the Autumn. But I know that Scouters are resourceful and flexible people and I remain incredibly grateful for everything you do for our young people.

Shirley Brookes

shirley@solihullscouts.org.uk


Could you look after our money?

We are looking for someone with experience in managing accounts to look after ours. Your experience could be within Scouting, or could be with a club or even professionally. 

Solihull Scouts is a registered charity and our Treasurer is a trustee playing an essential role in the good governance of the money which comes to us from our members and is spent on Scouting activities. We also have rental income from our HQ building so managing the ebb and flow of expenditure and income is a vital part of the role.

Whilst we do meet six times a year, this volunteer role is very flexible as it doesn’t need a regular weekly commitment. If you’d like to learn more about the role then please contact Simon at simon.hague@solihullscouts.org.uk or Shirley at shirley@solihullscouts.org.uk


Scouts at home

Life is slowly becoming the ‘new normal’ following weeks of lockdown, but it will still be some time before Scouts will be able to see each other face to face. We want to take this opportunity to say a massive thank all of our volunteers who have helped to keep bringing Scouting to our young people from weekly online meeting to facilitation Scouts #TheGreatIndoors

We wanted to shine a light on 1st Marston Green efforts during these unprecedented times.

“Since scouting was suspended on 17th March due to the COVID-19 restrictions, leaders at 1st Marston Green Scout Group held their first virtual leaders’ meeting to see if, or how they could continue with any type of scouting activity.

“Half of the leaders are still working full time, some doing more hours than normal, and other leaders are either on reduced hours, furloughed or self-employed. Only a couple of leaders had used a video conferencing facility previously, so it was all very new to most. However, they all decided to step out of their comfort zone and embrace the idea of trying weekly virtual section nights. 1st Marston Green Scout Group has 4 sections: Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Orion Explorers. It was decided, to try to keep as much normality for the young people, they would keep to the same nights and same time for each section, although Scouts has now been moved forward 30 minutes so they can end just before the Thursday 8 pm clap. Members are asked to wear their uniform including their neckerchief, again to keep the discipline of going to their section night each week.

Each section has 24 members and on average 20 are in attendance each night. The section night starts with flag break, with members making home-made flags and taking it in turns each week to carry out the special opening ceremony, with flag down at the end of the night for the closing ceremony.

There are still fun games, such as a scavenger hunt, battleships, Pictionary, Bingo and traditional Scouting Kims games, how many items can do fit in a mug starting with the letter T. Badgework is also covered and so far leaders have been creative with activities such as fingerspelling (British Sign Language), map reading, crafts and cubs got talent. We have also held our first camp in your garden and tried a virtual campfire.

The Group normally takes a holiday over Easter school holidays, but after reviewing the first two weeks of virtual scouting, the leaders decided to continue, even on Easter Monday.

St Georges Day normally sees all members on parade with fellow Scouts from Cole District in Knowle. With this event being cancelled due to the lockdown, the leaders decided, as it is such an important day for Scouts, that they would hold their own virtual St Georges Day celebration. Lord Baden Powell chose Saint George as the patron saint of Scouting. He felt that the Saint George legend set a good example of faith, courage and perseverance for future generations. The celebration took place on Zoom on Sunday 26th April 2020. Everyone was in uniform and each section renewed their Scouting Promise. We were joined by our vicar from St Leonards Church who lead us into prayer, we also heard from several members including leaders about what Scouts means to them. Through examples of experiences within Scouts where they found courage, faith and perseverance, to conquer new adventures, just like St George, and showed that Scouts is one big family.

For 10 weeks every Thursday at 8 pm, we clapped for key workers. During our St Georges celebration, we thanked our leaders for going that extra mile to ensure Scouts continues for the members in Marston Green, and that they still have the chance to “see” each other, chat, earn badges and have fun.

Together, our young people, our leaders and our parents are a great team and all very proud of belonging to the worldwide family of Scouts.”

Video from their St. Georges Day can be found on their Facebook page HERE