Nearly 75% of Scouts support their communities at least once a week. It’s a powerful force for good, but not all young people get the same opportunity.

Research from ComRes found that 82% of 12-24 year olds want to take part in social action, yet only 36% believe they have the chance to do so. This means the UK could be missing out on as much as 15.4 million hours of youth volunteering each month. The will is there; it’s just the opportunities they lack. If we can provide these opportunities – prioritising quality as well as scale and reach – we can trigger an explosion of youth social action.

One area we’ve been working on is dementia. Scouts want to raise awareness in their communities and help people living with dementia. These are normal kids from normal backgrounds. One minute they’re playing dodgeball, the next, they’re learning how to put someone in the recovery position. This work is fuelled by a burning passion to help others who need it most.   

The dementia program is just one focus of our social impact campaign: A Million Hands. The idea of A Million Hands is simple: the Scouts choose an issue, from working with people with dementia, disabilities, or mental wellbeing issues, to helping international aid projects supply clean water. They learn about the issue, then they take action to improve the lives of others. It’s already mobilised half a million Scouts, reaching into every community across the UK, to make a real and lasting impact.

Measuring the quality, scale, reach and impact of our work is important. Scouts have already put 250,000 hours into these projects over the last four years. And it’s happening right across the country – from Cornwall to Cumbria, Anglesey to Aberdeen. We’re so proud of these young people and their achievements, particularly their optimism, commitment, and willingness to help others.

Our members are energetic and enthusiastic. And our membership is broad and deep. So we tackle big issues through thousands of small actions. From day one, Scouting has developed and supported our members to be active citizens. Young people who take their promise to help other people seriously are more likely to volunteer, get involved in civic life, and respect other people regardless of their background.

A Million Hands has been a huge success not only for us and the community, but also for our charity partners who provide the expertise that makes these projects possible. For them, it not only provides additional capacity, creates high quality resources and youth engagement strategies – it also positively influences their profile and public affairs engagement. On top of that, it creates long term supporters with first-hand experience of the good work these partner organisations do.

Some examples of the very practical projects we’ve taken forward together:

  • 30,000 young people took part in a ‘Walk for Water’, raising funds and awareness for WaterAid
  • 20,000 Scouts were trained and are now making their communities dementia-friendly
  • 450 Scout Groups and 350 other youth organisations took part in a WaterAid Walk for Water (over just two months!)
  • 800 Dementia Friends workshops were delivered

While they’re helping others, our young people are also developing skills for life – the teamwork, leadership and problem solving skills that will prove invaluable. It really is a win-win.