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Thread: Shot with a sniper rifle - goodbye Scouting

  1. #391
    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    Sent by me, TSA never call me back despite saying they will over a dozen times, and had one email saying they were looking into it on 13th November
    In all honesty - in your position i'd suggest walking away, and finding another organisation to volunteer for. As Ewan says, this risks becoming unhealthy
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  3. #392
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingsley View Post

    Anyone can run a scout group and you do not need anyone's permission. The only permission TSA can give you is to wear the badge, that's it! So just alter the badge a little and you're OK, as several organisations already have done.
    This thread just reappeared and I reread and picked up on this. Surprised no-one else spotted it.

    This is not true. Not anyone can set up and run a Scout group.

    I know of several bodies, who disenfranchised by TSA, left, some had plans to set up an independent Scout Group. They can establish a youth group and operate as close to Scout structure and policy as they wish (though why they would want to emulate the very body they have just left is beyond me). When they looked into this in detail they discovered that the term Scout, as in Scout Association, Scout Federation etc, is actually protected in Law in the UK. Since 19 something or other the term Scout, in youth work, has been protected. Those organisations established prior to the protection can retain the term Scout in their title, newcomers cannot - hence Milton Keynes Adventurers, Sutton Coldfield Activity Unit (SCAUT) and of course Navigators.

    All can claim to be scouting, but none can claim to be Scouts - So "Navigator Scouts" is not allowed, but "Navigators as a new way of scouting", is permitted.

    How do I know this? Well, the UK founder of Navigators used to work for TSA and let's just say, there is considerable animosity from TSA towards the founder in the UK. This came to a head with letters threatening litigation over the use of the term scouting in Navigator publicity. TSA claimed protection of the terms.

    I looked into this in some depth and helped form the response. TSA stepped back from litigation. Essentially, there is nothing to stop anyone from using the scouting method, or from using scouting as an adjective or noun in reference to their activity, but they cannot refer to themselves as Scouts in any official publicity. The term predates the creation of BBS or TSA and as such cannot be reserved. Only the term Scouts as in Scout Association, Scout Federation etc., can be reserved.

    So... Are members of Navigators (etc.) actually scouts? They might be, but... as our membership changes - today, almost four years down the line, only 25% of our membership were in Cubs or Scouts for any length of time - it has come to light that the newcomers do not want to be known as Scouts.

    That was a bit of thread drift...


    Back on theme...

    When I left, rather publicly, I received not inconsideable correspondence from a range of people, largely supportive, and largely in the theme of "join the club". Some of those who had departed under duress had become obsessed to the point of self destruction and I must admit that had it not been for a couple of messages from good friends here I may have gone down the same route.

    There is a real risk to mental health and wellbeing in pursuing these cases beyond the point of "reasonable effort". Sadly, I think that TSA is fully aware that those who depart and make complaints will generally fall into some clear catagories.

    A/ They make such a fuss that they prove, to TSA, that they were indeed not suitable people.
    B/ They will splash around for a bit then move on.

    There are few, very few, who will take their case any further due to the time and cost involved. The one who took them all the way did so because he was left with no option as his dismissal cost him much more than just his hobby.

    If you cannot make headway using the offical complaints procedure (and few do), then bitch about it for a while if you wish, but walk away, join something or start something new. There are other youth groups up and down the country who would welcome the input from skilled and experienced youth leaders. If you want to keep the torch burning, then there are alternatives.
    Ewan Scott

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  5. #393
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    Sent by me, TSA never call me back despite saying they will over a dozen times, and had one email saying they were looking into it on 13th November
    Walk away. Own that decision. Stuff 'em. They don't deserve you.
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

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  6. #394
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    The bigger picture here is that any one of us could have an argument with our DC. The DC could then bring forward an Appointment Review date and decide to dismiss.

    The process to reconsider a dismissal as a consequence of an Appointment Review only allows other people within the District to review the process that was used, not whether the DCs decision was correct, fair or in the interests of Scouting. There is no process to appeal the actual decision to dismiss when you are sacked after an Appointment Review.

    In an organisation like TSA there should be a far better process in place for dismissal with appropriate safeguards in place to protect the individual from an over zealous dismissal. There should also be a formal process to appeal the dismissal, ideally heard by people outside the District.

    Paul

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  8. #395
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    Agree with the consensus here, it seems like the relationship has broken down completely. Even if you were re-appointed, there is nothing to say it won't happen again.

    This is an area of TSA structure I think really needs looked at. Power should be at group level, not at DC level. I don't buy into the whole chain of command/line management model that is so favoured these days - its ripe for abuse, and for an organisation that trades on goodwill and community, a corporate structure such as it has is a potential (and in this case, an actual) liability.

    Life is too short. Move on, harangue them on Twitter for a few months then let it go.

  9. #396
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    This is an area of TSA structure I think really needs looked at. Power should be at group level, not at DC level. I don't buy into the whole chain of command/line management model that is so favoured these days - its ripe for abuse, and for an organisation that trades on goodwill and community, a corporate structure such as it has is a potential (and in this case, an actual) liability.
    Moving away from the OP's unfortunate situation, I do agree in a way - I think we'd do well to move to a more modern meritocratic type structure than the old-fashioned hierarchical one we have.

    An example would be to move the functions to those who know about them away from the DC/CC and just have them manage their teams. So assuming you retained something of what you have now, for example:
    - NAN forms processed and approved by NAAs, not DCs
    - Adventurous Activity Permits issued by Assessors, not DCs
    - Group Chair elected, not appointed by the GSL
    - Groups directly managed by GSLs, not DCs

    etc.

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  11. #397
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Moving away from the OP's unfortunate situation, I do agree in a way - I think we'd do well to move to a more modern meritocratic type structure than the old-fashioned hierarchical one we have.

    An example would be to move the functions to those who know about them away from the DC/CC and just have them manage their teams. So assuming you retained something of what you have now, for example:
    - NAN forms processed and approved by NAAs, not DCs
    - Adventurous Activity Permits issued by Assessors, not DCs
    - Group Chair elected, not appointed by the GSL
    - Groups directly managed by GSLs, not DCs

    etc.
    That is all well and good in a perfect world.

    Unfortunately 50% of our Groups do not have a GSL, those that do may not be fully doing their current role.

    You also assume that all these roles are filled and with suitable people

    Also if you move the management totally to the Group a DC cannot be responsible for any decisions made by the GSL or Exec Committee or NA or Activity Assessor. It would assume that all the info that a DC has to hand would be available to the GSLs where appointed so that they could make decisions as to the suitability of adults to certain roles etc.

    I agree that some decisions need to be made in Groups, the question is which and how.

  12. #398
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    That is all well and good in a perfect world.

    Unfortunately 50% of our Groups do not have a GSL, those that do may not be fully doing their current role.

    You also assume that all these roles are filled and with suitable people

    Also if you move the management totally to the Group a DC cannot be responsible for any decisions made by the GSL or Exec Committee or NA or Activity Assessor. It would assume that all the info that a DC has to hand would be available to the GSLs where appointed so that they could make decisions as to the suitability of adults to certain roles etc.

    I agree that some decisions need to be made in Groups, the question is which and how.
    You're kind of assuming that the district roles will be filled with suitable people too. We didn't have a GSL for a long time, we just job-filled - we've not had a chair for longer still, so we job fill. Its been my experience that groups are far better able to fill these gaps than are districts. Groups tend to be a bit more close knit so can manage it a bit better, speaking in a very general sense, I don't think districts are quite as cohesive.

    I'd much rather deal with an unsuitable person at group level (where I have a wee bit of blat) than at district level where I have none.

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    Surely the problem isn't particularly about the level at which decisions are made, its that the system allows unsuitable people to be in positions to make unsatisfactory decisions. If all DC's were entirely fair and free from spite or personal bias we wouldn't be having this conversation. The problem arises when personal differences creep in and aren't managed by those above, probably in most cases because having a DC at all is better than having to find another one. If we're short of GSL's we're probably also going to be short of options at DC level so CC's will tend to back their "man" because its easier to leave the DC to find a new section leader (their problem) than have to find a new DC (my problem). When you then see HQ systematically stalling reasonable enquiries like with Bernwood as a means to "deal" with a problem without actually having the guts to deal with it, you start to wonder how high up the management chain the canker goes. Which is then when it seems reasonable to withdraw control down into groups because then we know who we're dealing with.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Senior Member roger-uk's Avatar
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    It's been pointed out before we need an independent appeals procedure which takes the matter out of the TSA hands.

    This should ensure there is a fair and open appeal and also make those making the decision realise they will be under "proper" scrutiny if their decision is felt unfair. All in all this should lead to less problems.
    Roger Woods
    Assistant Group Scout Leader,
    1st Sawley (All Saints) , Long Eaton

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  17. #401
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    That is all well and good in a perfect world.

    Unfortunately 50% of our Groups do not have a GSL, those that do may not be fully doing their current role.
    One has to wonder why that is the case.

    You also assume that all these roles are filled and with suitable people
    That applies at all levels in the hierarchy - there are plenty of people not fit for the job. I was apparently one of them.. I mean, year on year growth, diversification of membership, a huge leadership team, enough resources to shame most Districts, a refurbished and extended hall, properly planned finances, all SMS correct and paid on time ( save an error of £100 one year) and 150 members in a village Scout Group... I was patently crap at what I did.. The DC, on the other hand ... is, as someone recently told me, marmite...

    Also if you move the management totally to the Group a DC cannot be responsible for any decisions made by the GSL or Exec Committee or NA or Activity Assessor. It would assume that all the info that a DC has to hand would be available to the GSLs where appointed so that they could make decisions as to the suitability of adults to certain roles etc.

    I agree that some decisions need to be made in Groups, the question is which and how.
    In 20 years I can think of four times when a DC got involved in Group affairs - one to conduct a witch trial against me - it failed; once to tell me I could not use third party providers for an activity ( he was wrong); once to deal with a youth issue that required a removal of membership, and once to tell me that I had broken his local rules on reviews, which led to my departure.

    On the other hand I can think of dozens of times where the residing DC SHOULD have intervened - financial mismanagement, leaders operating in breach of policy, lack of Execs, solo leaders, sole sections and not support, people undertaking activities without pemits. I have known DCs to ignore the failings of their clique and go after others doing exactly the same thing who were not members of their little group of acolytes. I have seen DCs appoint people who were clear;ly unsuited for the role - I was obviously one, but I can think of one, rejected by another district, advised against by several who knew him, who still got a Leader appointment.

    Groups should be virtually autonomous, the role of the hierarchy should be to ensure that they do not break the rules and that they operate safely and efficiently. But that would require them to be capable of casting the first stone...

    The greatest constraint on what I do now is knowing that the buck stops with us. It is also the greatest motivator. Take away the crutches and let Groups stand or fall by their own actions.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    Also if you move the management totally to the Group a DC cannot be responsible for any decisions made by the GSL or Exec Committee or NA or Activity Assessor.
    Precisely my intention. There is no reason why the DC should take responsibility for the decisions of an independent charity. The District should advise, support and (if necessary) report, to TSA or the Police as appropriate. Each of those individuals would be fully responsible, subject to TSA insurance etc, for their own actions.

    In effect Groups are like franchises; my proposal would be that they go much further down that line.

    It would assume that all the info that a DC has to hand would be available to the GSLs where appointed so that they could make decisions as to the suitability of adults to certain roles etc.
    There are basically two reasons why someone might not be suitable for a role.

    One is "Safeguarding" type reasons. I can't see any reason why the decision should be any different between Groups in these cases. Either someone is unsuitable to be an adult in Scouting or they are not. And if special conditions need imposing, e.g. no driving of members in a motor vehicle due to driving offences, again there is no local bearing on that decision - either it is OK or not. Such decisions should be made by Vetting at HQ.

    The other is whether they are suitable to fit the team at that Group. There is no place better to make that decision than the Group.

    So I'm afraid I do not accept your premise at all.

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    DC responsibility in certain areas pertaining to group activity is only ever notional. I mean it looks good on paper and I suppose from a quality management standpoint. But in real life? Its a bit of a farce.

    Its like that Dilbert strip, rubbing his paws together with glee uttering "Great. I'm in a position of direct control but oblique responsibility..." Its kind of the opposite of that.

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  23. #404
    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Wow there have been a few comments since I last visited.

    I actually don’t think there is too much wrong with our structure. It might be a bit ‘old’ these days but on the whole it does do its job reasonably well. As Mang correctly argued it’s the people – only some people– in the structure who seemingly abuse it to support their own personal agenda. (That happens in many organisations not just scouting.)

    In my rather limited experience I have often seen personal disputes between adults handled by DCs and CCs who prefer to sit on the fence rather than make a decision. Sometimes this is effective, other times it’s not. Quite often a DC will just wait (stall) for time to resolve the issue, which happens when one side packs in and walks away. I think the stalling for time tactic tends to be over-used in scouting. (Actually in some cases one doesn’t know if the DC is stalling or is just afraid to make a decision!)

    The big problems tend to arise when the DC and/or CC isheavily involved or part of the problem; far too many like to play judge and jury! And when they are the problem the view often seen by many is that DCs are rather untouchable.

    The complaints process doesn’t seem to work. Would an independent process be better? I’m not so sure and there would be a cost.

    One problem with our structure is that it does not lend itself very well to a strictly demarcated line management way of working. Weare an association of bodies working with a common method towards a range ofcommon goals, quite different from a large organisation managed by a clearly defined management structure, even though it may comprise many departments, where responsibility for people and operations does clearly flow down the line.

    If you’re going to have people such as DCs carry a lot of responsibility then you need to ensure that the role is accompanied by a reasonable degree of oversight. For example, as a GSL I have a large input into how my group spends its finances and resources on supporting scouting, however, I don’thave absolute control and my judgements are not without oversight from members of my GEC. (They do not nod things through.) I would expect the same with the DC and DEC. However, it is the non-executive bit of scouting, the people,programme and operations where it seems that many DCs can operate in a bubble with little or no oversight. But doesn’t that come from the CC? Hmmm….I suspect not as much as people might expect. Doesn’t the GSL operate in a bubble too? I’m sure some do, however, most DCs do have oversight of their GSLs in my experience. (If my DC wishes to interfere in the people, programme and operation of my group he feels he is free to do so.)

    What we need to stop are those issues which surround the decision-making of DCs, where the DC can seemingly be judge and jury overissues involving people, even if they themselves are also involved, without question or right of appeal. Shouldn’t the DC have the right/responsibility todismiss someone they believe is a safeguarding threat? Of course! They hopefully will be able to back such threats with evidence. The issue is where there is a subjective decision – a DC dismisses a GSL say at an appointment review because‘they’re not doing their job’ - but the DC has no such evidence to support their view. There is no appeal in such circumstances. There is no oversight to see that the DC has made a fair decision.

    But as PA said, in the end it comes down to people.

    I know little about Bernwood's troubles because he has not been very open in discussing details, only outcomes. I have no idea as to the root cause. I suspect the hold up is 'local' and someone is playing for time. It might be time to force the issue and issue a formal complaint, though it could make matters worse. hey ho.



    TM
    Last edited by merryweather; 06-12-2017 at 05:19 PM.
    going...going...still here...just

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  25. #405
    Senior Member Douglas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    21 telephone calls, 28 emails (1 reply), a SAR request (told me nothing new), 228 days in Vetting- and were down to an eight page letter of complaint Digging out a snorkel as I can't hold my breath much longer
    It’s not unknown for someone to be dismissed from one district and to be subsequently reappointed in another district. If I've understood this correctly, that's what you're trying to do here. I know someone who has been through that process in the fairly recent past. Quite a lot of anti-depressant medication later, he was appointed in a new district, although HQ insisted on a vetting process which seemed to take incredibly long for what was a simple task of assembling the information which had already been assembled in response to a subject access request. I won’t go into more detail here so as not to identify the particular situation or any of the people involved.

    Whether or not you want to persist with attempts to get through the obfuscation/bureaucracy from HQ will, I suspect, depend on how keen your new district is to have you on board.

    If there's any valid excuse for this amount of delay, I can't begin to think what it might be.

    As to whether the process is fit for purpose, to me it should be simple. The Scout Association should treat its volunteers in accordance with the Scout law. A lack of basic courtesy and respect, coupled with an apparent attitude that people suspended or dismissed are guilty until proven innocent (and possibly still guilty even after proven innocent), isn’t compatible with the Scout law.

    And yes, there needs to be some genuinely independent review process, rather than having decisions made on the whim of a capricious DC, with no right of appeal.

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