Scouts on a mission to help children in deprived areas
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 18/05/2019
The Scouts are on a mission to reach children in deprived areas of the UK and have launched 1,280 new groups in poorer regions in the past five years.
It has seen more than 20,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds join the association since the life skills community group launched its initiative in 2014.
New branches have opened on estates such as Byker in Newcastle and Wythenshawe in Manchester.
The focus has not just been on inner-city areas, but include areas such as Jaywick, an Essex seaside town named among the poorest in Britain.
Out of the 1,280 new locations, 222 of the groups are in the very poorest 10% of areas across the UK, as defined by income, employment, schooling, health, crime, housing and environment.
By 2023, the association is hoping to add 500 new groups in deprived areas.
The association has been preparing young people with life skills for 112 years and has a history of adapting to help support communities who are most in need. Overall, the movement has nearly 500,000 members.
In the early 1900s scout groups had deep connections in cities where it used to promote scouting as a way to encourage education and beat unemployment.
One of the latest branches in the association’s current initiative is 10th Willesden Scout Group, based in North West London.
Willesden, in the borough of Brent, has one of the highest poverty rates in the capital.
In the 1950s, the area was home to 44 cub and scout groups, but that figure dropped to just four until last year. Over the past 12 months it has risen to nine.
The association here attracted children who wanted to avoid joining gangs and parents looking to get their kids away from electronic screens.
Linda Anneh-Bu is a Scout group leader at 10th Willesden.
Growing up she always wanted to be a part of the scouts, but her parents didn’t let her. Now she leads the group her children attend.
She told Sky News: “For me it is very important to know that Scouts is open to all and I think that is a very important message that it’s not about what class you’re from, it’s not about how much your parents earn or don’t earn, it’s about you as an individual.”
Dwayne Fields was the first black Briton to walk to the North Pole. He was a Scout in Hackney and is now an ambassador for the association and has been instrumental in the move to push the Scouts into working in areas of deprivation.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “Living in the area I lived in I easily could have gone left when I should have gone right. We had very little to do, there was very little engagement with young people and there was loads of poverty around.
“What Scouts did was it showed me you can survive in this, you can be tough and you can be strong and you can lead, to say I don’t agree with that and say I’ll step away.”
For decades Scouts has been stereotyped as an organisation for children from predominantly white, middle class backgrounds, but Derek Wheeler who’s a Scout growth and development officer said: “In inner-city areas, the children have the chance to get involved in an organisation like The Scouts because they can learn so much from it.
“It can work in partnership with what they learn in school but it goes that little bit further and gives them skills they can have for life.”
© Sky News 2019