A CALL has gone out for volunteer leaders to help run the district’s popular scout groups after numbers fell during the pandemic.

In the biggest recruitment drive the area has ever held, the appeal is being targeted at any adult who can offer help in any way, from leading groups to giving occasional or parental support.

“The pandemic has had a massive impact on us. Adult volunteers are vital to keep groups going, but some have had to self-isolate and others have had a change in or heir circumstances and are unable to volunteer,” said Stephen Rawlinson, development officer with Bradford North District Scouts.

“I’m launching the biggest recruitment drive Bradford and its surrounding areas has ever seen. The role can be hugely rewarding, seeing young people having a go at activities for the first time and learning new skills. It is really beneficial to the community too.”

The scouting movement offers youngsters from age six to 18 the opportunity to learn skills, take part in activities and visit places they would otherwise not experience.

“Beavers - younger members - love being messy and running round. At the moment our assistant county youth commissioner is holding a snowman treasure hunt,” said Stephen. “Our older, Explorer scouts can also take part not only in Duke of Edinburgh scheme, but our own Young Leader scheme. They arrange their own camps, organise events and so much more, with supervision and guidance.”

He added: “We do all sorts - the list is endless. We teach skills that last a lifetime. The young people learn activities like abseiling, canoeing, climbing and bushcraft, and we take youngsters on international trips - our assistant county commissioner for international visits took a party of young people to our scout jamboree in America. We have had many successful trips and have plenty more planned.”

Stephen believes that many people have an outdated image of the scouts. “They think it is all about meeting in church halls, going on parades and getting a tent out occasionally - nothing could be further from how it really is.”

He added: “Scouting gives young people a sense of belonging. It helps them to develop life skills, gain confidence and embark upon an adventure of their own,” said Stephen, who was in the scouts as a child and whose six children are all involved with the scouts at different levels.

The groups have been meeting on Zoom - where they even held virtual camps with tents in their back gardens - but are now meeting again outdoors, adhering to restrictions.

“Being outdoors benefits young people and is beneficial to their mental health,” said Stephen.

Stephen is appealing for volunteers to work with groups across the whole district: Bradford North, Bradford South and Keighley and the Aire Valley. “Everyone is welcome, from all backgrounds, and there are so many roles to fill. Look us up and see the fantastic things we do.”

All volunteers are DBS checked, training is given and we support is offered all the way through.

“With your support and help I believe this could be the beginning of a great adventure but and would also help to bring together Bradford as a whole,” said Stephen.

*To find out more visit wyscouts.org.uk Stephen can be contacted on 07725076630 or email development@bradfordnorthscouts.org.uk.