The Journey thus far, but briefly

  • Scouting Ireland was formed in 2004, after that a steady programme of change introduced a number of significant changes including new uniform, youth programme and volunteer training scheme
  • A review of governance structures, started in 2016 was due to complete its work in 2020
  • In 2018 a review of the Child Protection Policy and procedures led to some changes and also to revelations of significant numbers of historic child abuse cases
  • At the same time four senior volunteers stood aside to facilitate the review of the handling of one particular complaint (not related to Child Protection)
  • A crisis of trust developed and led to the Minister withdrawing funding
  • The work of the Governance Review Group was accelerated, the organisation adopted a “Company Only” approach and elected a totally new Board, the NMC committed to closing down the Association without delay
  • The Minister was told that previous flawed approaches were now replaced and funding was restored.
  • The Transition Team started to set up a new operational structure
  • Some found communication disappointing and a number of social media channels emerged on which members shared views, comments and issues
  • After a period of two years the four senior volunteers were sanctioned by the NMC, the Board then reviewed the matter and issued further sanctions, expelling three of them
  • During 2019 Scout Groups in N.I. registered as independent charities and in 2020 a small number of Groups in RoI trialed the registration process in RoI
  • In early 2020 Covid arrived and activities were severally restricted for months on end.

Read more on the journey Here

And now…

As we start into 2021 with the likelihood of several more months restrictions many Scout Groups are feeling pressures to:

  • Continue to provide a service for youth members despite Covid Restrictions
  • Go through the process of registering as a Charity, including signing up a full set of Trustees
  • Register adequate numbers to avoid undermining government funding at national level
  • Accept a changing culture where inclusive decision-making and collaborative endeavour are not valued as they once were

It would appear that some are questioning the best course of action to follow, concerns seem to include:

  • Retention of youth members and adult volunteers during Covid restrictions and beyond
  • The apparent injustice re. the Four and what that seems to say about the culture of the organisation
  • Use of the Disciplinary Process against those who voice a view on direction and/or specific decisions
  • The appropriateness of registering as a Charity and their ability to ensure Trustees
  • Concern for the welfare of those who suffered abuse in Scouting as well as fear of the possible outcome of legal actions in that regard
  • The total absence of volunteer leadership in management decision making and direction at national level

What can be done

To influence decision making and to remediate the current culture shift, Scout Groups can:

  • Ensure County Management Team are fully aware of the issues facing the Scout Group and are referring to Province as appropriate, determine that Province is referring to the relevant Departments and/or CEO and seeking suitable responses
  • Put candidates forward for election to the Board
  • Submit suitable Motions to the Annual General Meeting, if they are rejected by Motions Committee, seek support from 50 Scout Groups for Motions for an EGM
  • Watch out for the NMC calling a meeting of National Council and be ready to participate actively in that process, also line up suitable candidates for election to NMC if it is to continue in existence after that meeting

See also previous articles:

Managing the Change – Restoring Trust

Preparing for National Council

Exploring other options

In recent weeks it is becoming clear that a number of Scout Groups feel they must explore other options for the future of Scouting in their area.

It would seem that the following options have been mooted:

  • Seek to join another National Scout Organisation
  • Start a new Scouting organisation
  • Leave Scouting Ireland and pursue the delivery of Scouting as an independent Scout Group
  • Go independent and from an alliance of independent Scout Groups

On the face of it some seem like simple options but in truth all of these options present very significant change for a Scout Group.

In fact, its likely that each option presents considerable challenges and risks. It appears prudent that any Scout Group considering such options should inform themselves of all of the considerations and ensure they understand the matter fully before deciding on a course of action that would be extremely difficult, to reverse out of.

Conclusion

The coming months provide a number of opportunities for all of us to work within the current system to seek a resolution to the issues facing us and it would seem a real shame of every Scout Group doesn’t make the best use of those opportunities. Scout Counties and Provinces can also ensure that they are operating effectively and are exercising their ability to surface the issues, to refer them for action and to pursue their resolution.

In the meantime each of the options could be further explored to tease out exactly what would be involved and to enable informed decision making some months hence.