Restructuring of Support Structures – Update

Date: 8th Mar 2023 Author: Pamela Hale

8th March 2023

To:  All Members, Scouts NI

As you are aware the Board of Scouts NI has been undertaking a review of the structures within Northern Ireland Scouting with the aim of providing better support to Leaders working with young people to deliver #SkillsforLife.  This review was prompted by the fact there were almost 200 unfilled posts throughout our Districts and Counties and many Leaders “double-jobbing” and even “triple-jobbing”.

A consultation paper was circulated in September 2022 after our AGM and was followed up by a series of roadshows across Northern Ireland as we sought the views of our members.  In total we had 176 people attending the roadshows and received 47 emails giving feedback. This feedback was reviewed by a working group containing representatives of all Counties and had a significant youth involvement.  The Board is grateful for this feedback.

The analysis of the feedback clearly indicated that:

  • The vast majority (>98%) believed that we could do better, and that change should happen.
  • There was a strong affinity to the current Districts.
  • A single tier of support would be better.

The working group submitted a proposal to the Board which reflected this feedback, and the Board unanimously approved at its meeting on 1st March 2023.

The outlines of the proposal are set out below:

  • The current 10 Districts will remain unchanged; the 4 County/Districts will become Districts.
  • The County level will disappear.
  • The 14 Districts will be grouped together into four Regions containing either three or four Districts with similar numbers of young people and Leaders.
  • As the Chief Commissioner cannot provide direct support to 14 District Commissioners, four Regional Commissioners will be appointed to support a group of Districts and the Chief Commissioner. These individuals will not have a separate team (or be a registered charity etc) but will receive support from the Northern Ireland Commissioner Team.

The Districts will not be obliged to organise regional activities but will be encouraged to work together in a flexible manner.  Similarly, readjustment to District make-up can be considered if likely to improve the delivery to young people.

The grouping of Districts is set out below under the headings of North, South, East and West.

North:         Slemish, South East Antrim, North Belfast, North West Belfast.
South:         Armagh, South Down, Lisburn, Lagan.
East:            North Down, Strangford, East Belfast.
West:          Fermanagh, Tyrone, Londonderry.

Grouping Districts Scout Groups Explorer Units Members Leaders
North 4 43 21 1799 607
South 4 43 22 2322 702
East 3 33 16 2354 680
West 3 34 12 1311 497
Total 14 153 71 7786 2486

Based on 2022 census

The Board will now start to plan the implementation of these changes which will begin once approval by the Board of TSA is received.

The details have still to be worked out and we are keen to receive further feedback on how these will be developed, for example what should the groupings of Districts be called?  The Board and the Headquarters staff will support the Counties as they work through the implications of these changes for each of them.

Please send any feedback to or speak to any member of the Board.

Yours in Scouting
Stephen Donaldson – Chief Commissioner
Henry Brown – Chair, Board
Scouts NI

There is an interactive map showing how current Scout Groups sit within these Council areas at this link:

The map can be adjusted to include other variables (for advice on how to use the map please contact the Development Team at Headquarters).

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls