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Bishop's Stortford Scouts appeal for volunteers as movement faces numbers crisis

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Cub packs and Scout troops in Bishop's Stortford are appealing for volunteers to keep the youth movement alive in the town.

The organisation is facing its biggest crisis since the start of the Second World War, when youth membership fell 28% from 394,615 in 1938 to 284,678 in 1941. In the same period, adult volunteers decreased from 69,548 to 21,082 as adults joined up to take part in the war effort.

The problems caused by Covid-19 today are nationwide, but in Hertfordshire membership has fallen by 17.7%, from 14,214 last year to 11,694.

Scouting fun (47880905)
Scouting fun (47880905)

Adult volunteer numbers in the county are also down, 13%, from 5,311 in 2020 to 4,626 for 2021. This drop follows a sustained period of growth, where membership across the county rose by nearly 62% between 2006 and 2020.

County Commissioner Liz Walker said: "Young people have lost out on so much in the past year and our membership numbers show how many were unable to continue with Scouts due to lockdown.

"The good news is they're coming back in droves, so we need more people to help us ensure young people can meet friends, have fun and fulfil their potential by learning skills for life. That's why we're calling on people to volunteer for Scouts. Volunteering is good for communities, good for young people and good for you."

Scouting fun (47880914)
Scouting fun (47880914)

Action man Bear Grylls, the Chief Scout, added: "The past year has been so tough for so many. And it's also shown just how important it is for us to work together to help those in need. Scouting plays a fundamental role in the lives of thousands of young people and our goal is to build back our membership by welcoming thousands of new volunteers across the movement.

"As an adult volunteer, you can help us continue to make an incredible contribution towards helping young people learn new skills for life. You'll gain some great new skills, new friends and be part of empowering young people to be prepared for their future."

Since the first lockdown, Scout volunteers have provided thousands of hours of Zoom sessions, supported young people with at-home challenges like the Great Indoors and Hike to the Moon and, when restrictions have allowed, have run socially distanced meet-ups.

To address the deficit and get the movement back on track, Scouts are launching the #GoodForYou campaign, designed to recruit over 200 volunteers in Hertfordshire to help young people to reconnect, support their wellbeing and build skills for life.

Scouting fun (47880909)
Scouting fun (47880909)

See www.hertfordshirescouts.org.uk for more details.

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