The Scouts Association and Girlguiding UK Celebrate 100 Years of Collaboration

Here we welcome Dave Yates, to share this history and what it means for the two organisations today.

4th November 2019

Last year, we were delighted to make a grant through the Pears #iwill Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport and the National Lottery Community Fund, to support the collaborative ‘Space to Grow Together’ project between the Scouts and Guides.  The project sees the two organisations join forces to enable more young people to have access to the skills, fun and social action opportunities the movements provide.

Although the funding marked a unique step towards closer working between two national charities with a combined youth membership of almost 1 million young people, collaboration between the movements is far from new.  Here we welcome Dave Yates, to share this history and what it means for the two organisations today.

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The Scout and Guide movements were born on an island off the South Coast of England one summer back in 1907.  Inspired by a book written by Lt. Gen. Robert Baden-Powell, people across the country took to setting up troops of young boys. What is not so often told is that alongside these groups were girls and women of many ages also joining in. Long before a troop of girls marched into Crystal Palace Jamboree on September 4th 1909, Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes were already developing plans for a separate programme just for girls.

By  November of 1919, the girl only organisation, Girlguiding, were growing popularity even faster than the Scouts.  In this wave of shared success of young people gaining the benefits of Scouting and Girlguiding across the UK, Baden-Powell called for closer working relationship between the two movements:

100 years later and today the two movements continue to collaborate at a local level. There are dozens of joint Scout and Guide charities that use, own, and manage a joint venue. There are 1000s of joint events, gang shows and jamborees with volunteers from both movements working together for young people everywhere. What is more, thousands of adults and young people are members of both movements. Often girls enjoy their girl-only space during the week, but also like going camping with the boys at the weekend. Volunteers from both sides help out at events and camps – supporting partners, friends, and each other.

Today the ‘Space to Grow Together’ project wants to help the organisations work even closer together. We believe that through closer collaboration we might reach more young people, gain improved levels of funding, and support innovation and research into the area of impact measurement in the youth sector.

The project is not without its challenges. Over the decades the two movements have built unique systems and processes unique from each other. Working across both of these to drive innovative projects can be complex and time consuming. Driving the project forward is the skills, expertise, and values of volunteers and staff who see the benefit of closer working and the combined impact it can have on young people.

Since the project started in in June 2018, we have held joint meetings at all levels within the organisations to develop closer relations and explore where bringing our combined efforts together can improve outcomes for young people. A key to our collaborative efforts is supporting volunteers and improving our reach for young people up and down the country.