In­clu­sion is key to Scout­ing’s sys­tem

Ev­ery­one, from any back­ground, should be able to ex­pe­ri­ence Scout­ing, says Kate Docherty

The Scotsman - - The Scotman 200 -

Dur­ing the sum­mer, Pride events have taken place in cities and towns across Scot­land. In Ed­in­burgh, Glas­gow and fur­ther afield, thou­sands of peo­ple have taken to the streets to cel­e­brate the won­der­fully in­clu­sive so­ci­ety that we’re lucky to live in. It was an enor­mous priv­i­lege to join Scouts at Ed­in­burgh Pride. What struck me through­out was the sur­prise amongst some at­ten­dees that Scouts were there. On more than one oc­ca­sion some­one told me that they were de­lighted Scouts Scot­land was rep­re­sented.

The most heart­en­ing con­ver­sa­tions were with those who had been in­volved as chil­dren them­selves and wanted to re-en­gage with Scout­ing as adult vol­un­teers. They may not have felt that Scout­ing was in­clu­sive when they were chil­dren, but were de­lighted to be made to feel wel­come again.

In­clu­sion is a key part of our pro­gramme. We’re well known for the ex­cit­ing and ad­ven­tur­ous ac­tiv­i­ties that we of­fer, but we also know that our mem­bers learn as much from each other through their shared ex­pe­ri­ences in Scout­ing.

In­clu­sion cov­ers many dif­fer­ent areas, and our work is sup­ported by a team of ad­vis­ers who help us make Scout­ing as open as pos­si­ble. These ad­vis­ers cover LGBTI, gen­der, dis­abil­ity and ad­di­tional needs, eth­nic and faith com­mu­ni­ties, and areas of mul­ti­ple de­pri­va­tion. We’re also work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties where Scout­ing has his­tor­i­cally been un­der-rep­re­sented to bring new pro­vi­sion to those areas.

Our pri­mary role is to teach young peo­ple, and we take the im­por­tance of ed­u­cat­ing young peo­ple about in­clu- sion in­cred­i­bly se­ri­ously. My own son’s Cub group will be spend­ing the next cou­ple of weeks work­ing to­wards their Dis­abil­ity Aware­ness badge, mak­ing them aware of how other peo­ple see the world. We give our lead­ers re­sources to help them fa­cil­i­tate what can be dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions with young peo­ple on these and other is­sues.

In­clu­sion is also about giv­ing the same ex­pe­ri­ence to all young peo­ple. Our Na­tional Ac­tiv­ity Cen­tre at Lochgoil­head al­lows all young peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence the same fun, ex­cit­ing pro­gramme of ac­tiv­i­ties, re­gard­less of any ad­di­tional sup­port needs they have.

The un­der­stand­ing we give young peo­ple of these is­sues has tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits for their com­mu­ni­ties. One of our groups from Glen­rothes worked with Leonard Cheshire to as­sess and re­view how ac­ces­si­ble the Loch Leven na­ture re­serve was for those with dis­abil­i­ties.

Scout­ing is over a cen­tury old, and our aims then are ex­actly the same as they are now – to bring peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds to­gether. Our mis­sion has there­fore never been more rel­e­vant – to­day we’re one of Scot­land’s largest youth char­i­ties, and we have a pos­i­tive im­pact that ben­e­fits young peo­ple, vol­un­teers and com­mu­ni­ties.

There are no bar­ri­ers to be­com­ing a Scout. I’m in­cred­i­bly proud that we’re an in­clu­sive, val­ues-based move­ment and mem­ber­ship is open to ev­ery­one who shares those val­ues. And we be­lieve ev­ery­one, no mat­ter what back­ground they come from, should be able to ex­pe­ri­ence Scout­ing. ● Kate Docherty is chief ex­ec­u­tive, Scouts Scot­land,

0 Mem­bers learn from each other through their shared ex­pe­ri­ences

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