Why business is boomingfor the county's scouts
It may be the digital generation '“ but dib, dib, dibbing has never been more popular among today's youth.
Young people are taking a break from technology-driven lives to enjoy one of oldest voluntary movements.
Scouting has never been more popular – and is now enjoyed by more people across West Lancashire than at any time in its history.
West Lancs County, covering an areas from the edge of Chorley across to Blackpool and Fleetwood up to Cumbria, is marking a 13th year of consecutive growth.
As the largest Scout county in the North West , the area is on track to reach a target of 14,000 members by 2018.
The numbers show the movement is proving particularly popular with adult volunteers with more people giving up their time in a variety of roles such as leaders, charity trustees and skills instructor, all of whom help to provide a better start in life for young people and have a positive impact in their communities.
Lead volunteer for growth Jon Minshull from Wyre explained: “Over the last 13 years we have seen the scouting grow in West Lancashire by more than 4,000 members with 3,000 of those being young people.
“Our continued growth has been achieved by the fantastic teams of volunteers who continue to give their time flexibly to provide fun, challenge and adventure across our communities.”
More than 10,000 young people are involved in scouting in 162 separate groups across the area.
These provide a varied programme of fun, challenge and adventure supporting young people to develop their social skills, make friends and enjoy new experiences together, with activities ranging from archery and camping to rock climbing and kayaking.
The experiences gained through activities such as climbing and sailing as well as community volunteering has helped girls and boys aged six -25 years old to get a better start in life.
Scouting has proven so successful that Preston was recognised as the second fastest growing district in the UK and now boasts over 2,000 members, while Wyre district alone has grown by 20 per cent in the last year.
With the opening of 1st Deepdale Scout Group the district has widened the availability of Scouting to the community – both 1st Deepdale and 10th Fulwood Scout Groups have been successful in making the skills and opportunities of Scouting available to the muslim community helping Scouting, to become even more inclusive and reflective of the communities it serves.
Andrew Hobson, lead volunteer in Preston, said: “Scouting is all about bringing young people together, our growth is not just essential to helping more people get a better start in life.”
West Lancashire county commissioner Steve Morton says: “To grow for 13 consecutive years across all eight districts is fantastic and reflects the growing popularity of the Scouting movement nationally.
“In only 12 months we have seen a large increase in in membership from ethnic minorities and Eastern European communities and experienced the fastest growing youth membership across the North West.
“To meet this demand we’re already planning to open 20 new sections this year and would love to attract more adult volunteers to work with our young people.
“Through our activities we are equipping young people with skills for life such as teamwork, leadership, independence and decision making.
“We offer an exciting and varied programme, ranging from health education, visits to observatories and fire stations through to canoeing in Greenland, trekking across Mongolia, skiing in Scotland, climbing a first mountain and all things in between.”
Chorley Scouts has seen an increase of 100 new members and opened two new Explorer Scout Units for girls and boys aged 14-18 .
Cath Hargreaves, lead volunteer says: “Our continued growth is a fantastic achievement and testament to the devotion of our adult volunteers who are committed to helping young people get a better start in life.”
One of the key aims in Lancashire is to work with third party organisations to make scouting more accessible .
This is working in Blackpool where adult volunteers from the Scouts worked in partnership with the Youth United Foundation to open a new group, 20th Blackpool Scout Group, providing Beaver and Cub Scouts.
In addition new Beaver, Cub and Scout sections have been opened across Blackpool to provide a range activities such as climbing, kayaking and being involved in community projects.
Victoria Da Silva, lead volunteer in Blackpool, says: “Scouting continues to adapt to changing circumstances and by working in partnerships with others we have been able to continue to grow.
“By working with Youth United Foundation we are able to help young people get a better start in life and play a positive role in their communities.”
Helle Howarth volunteers as a Beaver Scout Leader with 1st Fleetwood Scout Group and says: “I became a leader to help young people try new experiences they cannot get anywhere else.
“My son was in Beavers and it has really helped his confidence.”