Hello Dear Reader
At the end of September I announced that I would be conducting an e-mail interview with Wayne Bulpitt the UK Chief Commissioner. After collecting questions in from readers of Jabbering All Day Long, I put 13 questions to Wayne for him to answer.
Before we get to the questions here is a bit of background on Wayne’s Scouting life. Wayne was appointed UK Chief Commissioner in May 2009, having been Chief Commissioner of England (South) since September 2007, Chairman of the Association’s Board of Trustees until that date and an elected Trustee since 2001.
Wayne now lives in the Channel Island of Guernsey.
In 2009 Wayne’s service to Scouting was acknowledged with the award of A Bar to the Silver Acorn.
So on to the questions.
You are the UK Chief Commissioner – can you explain your Role?
The role of the UKCC is to lead and manage all volunteers within Scouting and in particular the team of Chief Commissioners, UK Commissioners and the International Commissioner. I am also responsible for managing some external relationships including engagement with political parties, our Scouting Ambassadors and other organisations. You can check out more at www.scout.org.uk/ukleadership..
What is your Scouting Timeline (e.g. cub, scout, venture, Queens Scout, Explorer belt, leader, DC, CC, Regional Commissioner, UKCC?
I used to look longingly at the Cub Scouts as they undertook their weekly activities in the School next to my parents flat and counted down the days to my eighth birthday when I was able to join the 1st Warsash Cub pack.
Since those days, I have been an active member of each section and became an assistant Scout Leader at the age of 18. Moving to the Channel Island of Guernsey in 1983, I was quickly made welcome and became Leader of the Northern Venture Scout Unit.
Returning to England, I rejoined my old Troop as Scout Leader for a few years. Back in Guernsey in 1992 and after a spell as Treasurer I was appointed Bailiwick Commissioner (a mix of District/County Commissioner) between 1998 – 2004. I took an interest in national Scouting, unhappy with how things were being run at the time, and stood for election as a Trustee of the Association. I was immediately appointed Chairman of the Association’s Finance sub-committee for 5 years, then Chairman of the Board itself in 2006/7 and Chief Commissioner of England South in September 2007.
What is your biggest personal achievement in Scouting?
Too many to mention in many respects, but the one that sticks out the most would be achieving my Queen Scout Award, closely followed by running my old Scout Troop in Warsash.
Is there anything UK Scouting should be, or could be doing better?
I am certainly very proud of where we are at the moment, with our 5th consecutive year of growth and increasing numbers of adults as well as young people however I do think there are lots of things we could be doing better.
Amongst the most important for me would include looking after the leaders that we have better and providing them with the appropriate tools e.g. IT, and, for young people, ensuring that we are able to offer a consistently exciting programme and Scouting to all young people that wish to join, or that we know will benefit from what we have to offer.
What is your goal for the 12 months from Jan 2011?
Our current priorities follow on from the question above in many respects, by ensuring that we are able to significantly reduce our joining lists and that all young people have an opportunity by having inspired and motivated leaders offering an exciting programme to young people.
I believe that we can do this primarily by making sure that Section and Unit leaders feel valued and better supported, and that the way to do this is by having effective leadership (e.g. Group Scout Leader, District Commissioner etc) at every level.
What is UK Scouting doing to encourage Scouting amongst young people, where Scouting membership is low? – (Ben Davidson – Wales)
We have developed a number of initiatives to support the recruitment of young people, some of which can be found through www.scouts.org.uk/brand and elsewhere on the website.
The starting point, has been working with groups to develop a local development plan which, amongst other things, will identify the groups’ needs and opportunities, such as more adults to tackle joining lists or the recruitment of young people where the group has room to take more.
Some specific initiatives have included recruitment campaigns in town centres (I went to one last year in Gwent) or visiting schools and running interactive assemblies etc. Your local Development Officer will be able to offer some assistance and ideas.
Does UK Scouting look at why leaders do leave Scouting, and what can be done about some of those reasons? – (Ben Davidson – Wales)
Yes, we have a system of exit interviews and have also developed a Recruitment and Retention strategy to help us better understand why volunteers leave us and what we can do to address that. It often comes back to feeling valued and having good support as I have mentioned earlier.
Why does UK scouting not give the same reverence/promotion to the Queen Scout Award that say the BSA give to the Eagle Scout Award.
This is a good question and something that we are presently looking into. I would certainly like to increase the number of members attaining their Queen Scout award (you can see some of my own thoughts at www.scout.org.uk/ccblog )and I believe we can do this in a number of ways. We are presently looking at the requirements for the Award itself, how we can promote it to our own members and once we have done this, how we can promote it externally, especially to employers to ensure that the achievements of recipients are better understood. I am always interested to know of other people’s thoughts and suggestions on how we can achieve this and many other challenges.
Every now and again a rumour pops up that the Scout Association and Girl Guiding UK are going to merge. And despite GGUK being the larger numerical organisation (although I have my doubts based on the local Guiding organisation where I live), it keeps reappearing. Do you believe the SA and GGUK will ever merge and how are relations with GGUK? – (Nick Wood, Staffordshire)
We have a good relationship with GGUK and I meet regularly with Liz Burnley, Chief Guide to discuss areas of mutual interest, of which there are many, and we recognise that with more than 1,000,000 young people and over 200,000 adult volunteers in our two organisations, we are a powerful voice for young people and adult volunteering.
Personally, I believe that our future is in closer partnership on areas that make sense (infrastructure, lobbying, facilities, some training for example), but that there are far too many issues that make merging impractical and undesirable.
As you know, the biggest challenge facing Groups is ensuring they have enough adult support. Some Groups are lucky and are able fill positions easily, where as some can try all the methods of recruitment and still have difficulties getting enough help. With the Government’s ‘Big Society’ ideas and the review into health and safety legislation, do you think these and other initiatives will help with adult recruitment and remove the worries people have about volunteering? – (Nick Wood, Staffordshire)
We are presently developing a recruitment and retention strategy, the results of which we expect to be able to share later this year.
As I have said, I don’t believe we have a particular difficulty in recruiting volunteers (we have after all been increasing our numbers against a national trend). However I do believe we need to put an increased effort into retaining the volunteers that we have already recruited and I expect this to be a key feature of our work over the next few years.
Clearly the Governments “Big Society” is something that will assist us but I believe that greater success will be achieved through our work with key employers, including the Civil Service, where we are working to persuade them of the benefits of volunteering and that the training we offer adults for example is good for their employment and HR strategies.
By continuing to develop the profile of Scouting we will be able to combat the negative images that volunteering to work with young people sometimes create. I do believe however that the perceptions of concerns about CRB and Health & Safety legislation are a far greater problem for us than the actual impact that these things have on our activities or volunteering. We are often our own worse enemy in this regard of concerns about CRB and Health & Safety legislation are a far greater problem for us than the .
The next major event on the scouting radar is 22nd WSJ but what is next for UK Scouting?
The 22nd world Scout Jamboree is as much an event for UK Scouting as it is for the world Movement with over 4,000 members participating.
We also have a number of programme initiatives planned in conjunction with the Jamboree and, in 2012, the Olympics. More important for me however are the 10’s of 1,000’s regular activities that take place weekly in Groups and Districts across the UK.
Do you think Scouting will ever have a Female Chief Scout?
p style=”padding-left: 60px; text-align: justify;”>What is Bear Like? (Maid Marion Hertfordshire)
Bear is an awesome and very inspiring individual who feels passionately about Scouting and the difference that it can make to peoples lives.
It is really nice to work with a celebrity like Bear who really believes in what we do and how to make a difference but who, at heart, is a great family man with strong personal values.
I would like to thank Ben Davidson, Nick Wood and Maid Marion for sending me questions to put to Wayne and I hope the responses answer the questions you had.
I would also like to thank Wayne for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer the questions.