Lockdown has affected all sorts of plans including those of four Network Members from ScoutsMôn – Alys Bailey-Wood, Emma Williams, Ben Exton and Niall Marsay. Over winter they had developed a plan to build a permanent shelter at the local Scout Campsite. The campsite is in area of special scientific interest with lots of interesting plants and fauna which is great for the sort of nature activities our youth members enjoy. However, there is absolutely no shelter so if it rains, activities can be limited. The idea was to provide shelter and encourage greater use of the site, without limitations from the Welsh weather. Then, unfortunately, COVID happened and all plans were put on hold.
District Commissioner, Stephen Buckley, picks up the story. “I knew the team were really disappointed and gave them a challenge that they could do virtually.” The team was challenged to transform how volunteers could be attracted through social media, how they could be recruited and onboarded. The bigger challenge being the requirement to embrace the Welsh language, making everything bilingual, as well as making everything reusable.
In normal times, a project has clear time boundaries but, in this case, it wasn’t clear how long lockdown would last and therefore the team took more of an “emerging” approach! First step was to interview a wide range of people both from within Scouting and outside. Interviewees included people from the NHS, Rotary, IBM, the Urdd, North Wales Storm News and the Restart Project, whilst the Scouting ones included Scotty from Scouts Canada!
Alys and Ben were thrown in the deep end immediately getting to grips with social media, posting regularly in both Welsh and English. Being from South Wales, Alys was constantly challenged when trying to write and translate for a North Wales audience – “I didn’t want to sound like someone from Cardiff as the local Welsh speakers wouldn’t have appreciated it!”. They developed a bilingual social media guide which encapsulates their experience. “To start with I wasn’t sure what value there would be a social media guide but I think the end result will be useful to Scout Districts and Groups across the UK but particularly in Wales” says Ben.
Emma focused on the Young Leaders Scheme building resources and immediately putting them into practice by getting five young leaders through not only their training but completing all the work required to earn their coveted YL Belts. Emma remarked “I was really impressed as some of the YLs came from groups that were not meeting, so they had to run games etc with members who they didn’t know.”
The team also produced a Welsh Scout Phrasebook with accompanying posters. This was a challenge as some words just don’t exist in Welsh – for example there’s no word for Pioneering or Patrol within the Scouting context. The results are quite impressive and, once they have been reviewed by a retired academic from Bangor University, the team hope they will be available to all Scout Groups in Wales.
Four “personas” were developed to represent the target demographics and used those to redesign the recruitment and onboarding processes. The existing processes are admin heavy and very piecemeal and this presented a challenge to the team. “I was determined to automate and integrate using off the shelf components and it was great to see that idea come to reality. Mind you, when I corrupted the District website and it had to be recovered from backup, I wasn’t the most popular team member!” laughs Niall!
The results of their work were presented to leaders from across the District and an impressive range of Scouting representatives from across England and Wales. The presentation was well received with Regional Commissioner, Gordon Richardson remarking “….. an absolutely fantastic and inspiring presentation…….”.
Final words, when asked by Gordon, “Are you planning on building the shelter once lockdown is over?” The team were unanimous in their enthusiasm!
The team were recommended for their award and were also presented with a Commissioners Award by ScoutsMôn in recognition of the difference their efforts will make to Scouting on the Island.
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