UK

Scouts see biggest surge in youth membership since World War Two

T

he Scouts have seen their biggest youth membership surge in 80 years, the organisation has said.

New figures released on Thursday show that youth membership – those aged between four and 18 – has grown from 362,668 to 421,852 between January 2021 and January 2022.

The organisation said the 16% increase in membership is the highest it has seen since World War Two.

It comes after Scouts saw numbers plummet by 24.5% during the pandemic.

The organisation’s annual census in January 2020 counted 480,083 members, but this fell by more than 110,000 by January 2021.

Chief scout and TV personality Bear Grylls has called for more adult volunteers this year to help “build back” membership following Covid-19.

Beaver Scouts, aged between six and eight, saw the steepest rise with 108,282 members this year, an increase of more than 25,600 (31%) from 82,662 in 2021, according to previous census figures published on the organisation’s website.

Cub Scouts, ages eight to 10-and-a-half, saw an increase of 13% after membership numbers rose from 122,169 in 2021 to 137,806 in 2022.

Meanwhile, Scouts, who are aged 10-and-a-half upwards, saw an increase of 9% – from 111,804 to 122,359.

However, adult volunteers have continued to fall since 2020, when the census recorded 155,907.

This dropped to 140,810 in 2021 and then again to 139,528 in the January 2022 census.

Grylls said: “The Scouts play a fundamental role in the lives of young people, and it is fantastic to see that acknowledged through an increase in membership after a tough couple of years.

“The pandemic proved the importance of coming together and it’s great to see Scouts enjoying new experiences and learning vital skills for life again.

“But, as we build back our membership, we need the help of more adult volunteers so that we can continue providing opportunities for many more prospective young Scouts.”

The organisation said that it currently has 90,000 young people waiting to join Scouts, but that more adult volunteers are needed to support its growth.

A recent survey carried out by Scouts found that 70% of volunteers had improved life satisfaction and 66% had improved self-esteem since they started helping out.

Meanwhile, 42% said the work had reduced feelings of loneliness and 33% said it had reduced stress.

Yvan Tolkaciovas, 15, from south London, said Scouts helped “pull me back out of my shell” after the pandemic.

“Being part of something and learning all the skills and things missed out on during lockdown has been brilliant, and I think that young people need Scouting now more than ever,” he said.

CJ Ledger, Scouts’ deputy UK commissioner, said: “It’s great to see young people returning to Scouting in their thousands and making new friends, learning new skills, and helping their communities rebuild after Covid.

“Volunteering with Scouts is very rewarding, fun and good for you.”

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