IT is an important part of the nation's heritage.

Generations of families have been part of this stalwart movement but times are changing and with competition from other distractions and activities it seems Scout and Guiding is struggling to recruit volunteers.

This long-standing organisation isn't the only one, yet testimony to its success, and popularity, is the fact that it has survived the test of time.

For those involved in the association it brings many benefits and can often provide the building blocks for adult life.

Simon Carter, who looks after the Scout Association's communications across the UK including Bradford and District, joined the organisation as an eight-year-old.

The 52-year-old, whose twin sons are involved in the movement, also volunteers as a scout group leader. It is a role he relishes, and many more would too.

"The interesting thing is we have got more adult volunteers now than we have ever had in the lifetime of the movement but we still have a shortage.

"With over 50,000 young people on the waiting list the reason isn't around lack of desire for volunteering it's the busyness of people's lives."

Simon explains whereas at one time one person could be a scout leader, it can take two or three volunteers to cover sessions.

"While we have got more adults they are doing more bits and pieces."

Increasing their volunteers would offer them greater flexibility and the role could be designed around the individual particularly if they couldn't devote a lot of time.

"Busy lives is the key issue. Twenty years or so ago when I started working people worked 9 to 5, now many more people do shifts, more jobs are like that now," Simon explains.

But every little helps and volunteers have been the lifeblood of this organisation since it was formed 110 years ago.

According to Simon, it has enjoyed 12 years of membership growth and the benefits and experiences Scouting and Guiding brings are endless. Our photo from the T&A archive shows Guides from Bradford preparing for a trip to the USA in 1986.

Referring to research carried out by Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, Simon explains that it found people who were involved in Scouting and Guiding had better mental health.

"They were more resilient; more able to cope with what life throws at them and there is a real benefit in volunteering, there is a mental benefit and the feel good factor," adds Simon.

Being involved in Scouting and Guiding can also provide young people with essential life skills.

"We give young people skills for life; planning; communication, to be resilient, to be leaders, to take on responsibility - all those things are things that employers value above everything else - can they lead a group, can they communicate?"

To find out more, or to get involved, visit