Scouts NI youth membership increases by 32% in a year!

Date: 5th May 2022 Author: Michael Croft

There are over 7,700 Scouts in Northern Ireland, with membership numbers rising faster than at any point for 80 years according to figures released today by Scouts. Youth membership alone – those aged between 4 and 18 – has grown from 5,893 to 7,786 between 2021 and 2022, a 32% increase.

Scouts’ annual census provides a snapshot of youth and adult membership. Scouts is more important than ever before, giving young people life skills, a sense of connection and belonging, and supporting communities in areas of deprivation (IMD 1-3), that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout 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 32% growth in membership over the last year has been a welcome boost to the Scouts which hasn’t seen such an increase since since World War Two.

Scouting actively engages and supports young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society and create connections.

Research has shown that the benefits of scouting extend far into adulthood. By the time Scouts reach 50 years old, they are 15% less likely to suffer anxiety or mood disorders. Recent evidence has suggested that children and young people’s mental health has suffered substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic with Scouts offering a valuable opportunity to help young people develop a support network.

As the 2022 census figures are celebrated, more volunteers are needed to help return Membership numbers to pre-pandemic membership levels. With over 380 young people waiting to join, a 239% increase from 2021, it’s clear more adult volunteers are needed to inspire younger Scouts and help teach them skills for life.

Volunteering with the Scouts can bring real benefits to those who choose to join the Scouts. Volunteers for the Scouts report having improved life satisfaction (70%) and self-esteem (66%) since beginning volunteer work, as well as having reduced feelings of loneliness (42%) and stress (33%).

Stephen Donaldson, NI Chief Commissioner said:

“It’s wonderful to see young people returning to Scouting, enjoying new adventures, experiencing the outdoors, making new friends and learning new skills.  Scouts is needed by our young people in Northern Ireland now more than ever and this is reflected in the waiting lists we have at many of our Groups across the country.  Volunteering with Scouts is very rewarding and if you are wanting to meet new people and learn new skills, I’d really encourage you to think about volunteering with the Scouts. We have a range of roles available – from running activities for young people and leading the programme at weekly meetings right through to admin or maintenance: what ever you want to do we have a volunteering role for you. ”

Those interested in learning more about volunteering for the Scouts or joining as a volunteer can find out more information on the website.

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