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Thread: Citizenship and Democracy

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Citizenship and Democracy

    Forgive me if I have this all wrong.

    I always understood that Scouts and Guides were about developing better citizens from our young people. I am sure that the Founder had that as his key motivation in youth work.

    So, locally, I have always seen very little community participation by either organisation. Perhaps they did their community involvement on a very low profile.

    Part of what we should be promoting, I think, is citizensip and democracy - a search of TSA website suggests that I am on the right lines. When Kirklees Youth Council, representing 54,000 young people in the local authrity sent out an offer for one of their staff to come and discuss democracy and the youth council with young people, I was happy to accept and invite them to come an talk to Navigators.

    We had a good participatory discussion about politics and its impact on their lives and democracy and giving them a voice. I was pleasantly surprised by the kids' response.

    It turns out that of all the youth groups in the local authority area, including all the Scouts and Guides, only one youth provision responded to the invite. Not so much as a "no thanks" was received from Scouts or Guides. I find that unsurprising but disappointing. A great chance to get involved and develop citizenship and they can't even answer the invite.

    BUT... for me this is symptomatic of society. Is it not rude to ignore an offer of help, or an offer to present especially on a core issue such as citizenship - "The first aim and object of the Scouts movement is to make good citizens."
    Ewan Scott

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    I think people are very cynical about any official version of 'citizenship' just now, which might have an affect on uptake.

    Further to that, I also think people are very cynical about other people who go out of their way to promote things like citizenship. I think there is now a suspicion that these folk have an ulterior motive.

    TL/DR version - no one believes anyone is capable of genuine, objective activity of any kind any more. Everyone has some form of hidden agenda.

    Is what I think.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I think people are very cynical about any official version of 'citizenship' just now, which might have an affect on uptake.

    Further to that, I also think people are very cynical about other people who go out of their way to promote things like citizenship. I think there is now a suspicion that these folk have an ulterior motive.

    TL/DR version - no one believes anyone is capable of genuine, objective activity of any kind any more. Everyone has some form of hidden agenda.

    Is what I think.

    Not really the point though. is it.

    Scouts (TSA) talk about citizenship and involvement, but when offered the chance to get involved and influence local democracy, they ignore it completely. The point made, well, by our guest was that politics impacts on just about everything that we do. Yet so many of us ignore the process of democracy. Young people don't get their views heard - and 50% of our kids felt that they were not listend to. Yet, here is an opportunity and thoe who claim to want to help develop young people don't pass on the information, don't give them the oportunity to be heard.

    I suspect the reality is that most Scout and Guide sections pay lip service to citizenship and community involvement.
    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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    I wonder if a part of the problem around the lack of take-up may be the cascading information system that scouts (and I guess guides?) use. For example if the youth council got in touch with the local district/county, has someone at that very early level of the "system" just ignored/missed it?

    Our county are quite good at communicating these types of opportunities. We have a weekly members newsletter which always features an "external opportunities" section which is then archived online http://www.norfolkscouts.org.uk/memb...lopportunities.
    James

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    Not really the point though. is it.

    Scouts (TSA) talk about citizenship and involvement, but when offered the chance to get involved and influence local democracy, they ignore it completely. The point made, well, by our guest was that politics impacts on just about everything that we do. Yet so many of us ignore the process of democracy. Young people don't get their views heard - and 50% of our kids felt that they were not listend to. Yet, here is an opportunity and thoe who claim to want to help develop young people don't pass on the information, don't give them the oportunity to be heard.

    I suspect the reality is that most Scout and Guide sections pay lip service to citizenship and community involvement.
    It sort of is the point and isn't I suppose.

    I see what you mean though. Perhaps it's a two stage thing? You have leaders thinking, 'ocht, they won't be interested in that, they're young...' Which somewhat begets the notion among young people that they aren't listened to.

    Personally, since over the past 20-odd years, funding cuts, and I think just a general breakdown of relations between the older and younger generation, leading to an almost complete stoppage of any local authority-led/funded youth work has led to the current climate.

    In North Berwick where I did my youth working for the cooncil. The level of inequality was vast. You have all these posh ladies on the town council who were furious that children even existed. They were very firmly in the children should be seen and not heard category of people. They had sway with the council and how it allocated it's money. As the generational gap widened, each 'side' became ever more entrenched in their views. The older people on the committees became more miserly and ****** minded, and the young people became more marginalised and ignored.

    Maybe adults are so cynical about politics and what passes for 'British' democracy, that they're merely (perhaps erroneously) trying to save young people from the drudgery of it all.


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    Were I to get such an invitation, the first thing I'd find offputting, is 'discuss'. If there's one thing my lot try to avoid, it's speakers and discussion. Because that's the approach the schools use to topics such as democracy.

    Yes, active citizenship has been a part of Scouting and Guiding from the start. But from that same early stage, the principal method for encouraging active citizenship and all the rest was 'learning through games'. So - were activities and interaction being offered, and was it clear that it was so?

    The other difficulty is that units may have had speakers recently - it's only a few months since parliament week, when citizenship and democracy were covered, and units were inviting MPs/Councillors/Community Councillors to events.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    Scouts (TSA) talk about citizenship and involvement, but when offered the chance to get involved and influence local democracy, they ignore it completely. <snip> I suspect the reality is that most Scout and Guide sections pay lip service to citizenship and community involvement.
    What TSA talk about and what local sections want is increasingly divergent.

    Looking at it from another angle, I'm often made aware of local Groups who fail to reply to requests to join. So maybe Groups just failed to reply out of incompetence.

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    On one hand it is just plain rude not to respond.

    On the other I spend half my working day fending off people who think that whatever they are selling is vital for me to listen to, so I can get how people can get into a mindset of "I've got a full programme" or "I've got a full section" - and therefore don't respond to someone offering them something they don't need. Its not good, but when it pushes what you are willing to give for a voluntary role over the tipping point people do tend to think "Sod it - I don't need to help you fill your quota of youth engagements etc".
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    circus skills, drumming workshops, reptile workshops, silent discos, adventure trips etc etc ... ad nauseam... filling my inbox.

    i would rarely respond and occasionally would forward to relevant sections. I do the same with sales emails at work.

    we got invited to a local council thing to recruit young people... i replied that we didn't have any space and got a rude email back that i should attend anyway as they had gone to the effort of organising a recruitment event!

    @ ewan, you know full well that what we see from HQ and what we see on the ground is very different. Often it is better on the ground.

    equally... i had occasional interaction with youth services locally and i could not have run away more quickly. They wanted nothing to do with us and could not get their head around what we were.

    "we have 40 13-18 year olds"
    "across the borough?"
    "no... just in out group... there will be at least a thousand or so across the borough..."
    cue blank face and absolute disconnect... they had a huge budget and reached a fraction of our numbers... but again, as you know... very different young people.

    when i tried to interact with them, they could not offer nice, helpful, hard working, aspirational youngsters anything... we had a venn diagram of youngsters with no crossover!
    Last edited by big chris; 01-02-2019 at 03:51 PM.

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    We get quite a lot of offers for people to come and speak at Scouts, well, maybe not quite a lot, but certainly a few. We're always careful though - you know your section, and I know my section would not respond well to a powerpoint presentation and talking shop - and unfortunately, sometimes, this is what transpires. We get parents occasionally suggesting things, sometimes they don't really appreciate the dynamic on a meeting night.

    Saying that, sometimes I think an activity will be rubbish and the kids think it's braw - and vice versa...

    Before I'd invite anyone to present or facilitate an activity, I'd need to know exactly what they had in mind. The kids get enough of being talked to at school, that we don't do it quite that way at Scouts (I think) is our USP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by big chris View Post

    equally... i had occasional interaction with youth services locally and i could not have run away more quickly. They wanted nothing to do with us and could not get their head around what we were.

    "we have 40 13-18 year olds"
    "across the borough?"
    "no... just in out group... there will be at least a thousand or so across the borough..."
    cue blank face and absolute disconnect... they had a huge budget and reached a fraction of our numbers... but again, as you know... very different young people.

    when i tried to interact with them, they could not offer nice, helpful, hard working, aspirational youngsters anything... we had a venn diagram of youngsters with no crossover!
    In the past my experience was identical to yours. In fact, after three failed crossover events we decided, unanimously, that there was no way we could work together because the kids simply did not want to mix ( even though they all wanted exactly the same programme of activities). But the Youth Council is not about youth groups per se it is about encouraging democracy and participation, making the youth voice listened to.

    The situation has changed with regards - Youth Services is now a rump organisation, the remaining staff coordinate, rather than run. There are now only a handful of non-uniformed youth groups serving 54,000 young people. One or two of them are survivors of the austerity cull, taken on by volunteers, or by grant funded youth workers. So, the landscape and the dynamics have changed for them, as much as they have for us ( Navigators).

    There is a recognition that some groups will benefit from cooperation,and there is a move to establish a Youth Alliance where there can be shared resources and skills - I'll go along with that in part because we can access training and can access development projects, and being a supporter opens doors to funding. We no longer have the "support" of a District to fall back on... if we ever did.

    I got a call this week from the YPS coordinator. "Can I put your group forward as an example of good practice to the Schools Hub?" That would never have happened when we had the biggest Scout Group in the town.

    It is changed days, attitudes have changed. They even recognise that we not only have the right to refuse membership, but that we actually must refuse membership to those who are disruptive. They do try to get Scouts and Guides to talk to them, because they do still have funds available and "we" are the only people serving young people outside schools now. But, if the DC or the GSL can't be bothered responding to correspondence, it just means more money in the pot for those of us who do respond. ( But that has always been the case around here anyway)..
    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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    After one occasion when I worked with the council, there was an investigation and at least 2 people were sacked based on my report!

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A5010 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post

    I suspect the reality is that most Scout and Guide sections pay lip service to citizenship and community involvement.
    Speaking personally, we have had our local MP ( a minister) come and talk to part of the troop, and we have visited Parliament a number of times.

    BUT

    We plan our basic structure 6 months out - people coming with ideas for unformed ideas a few weeks away isnt likely to work

    Rich

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    I'm afraid we get several items of unsolicited email each week, normally from commercial organisations and often passed via County. Maybe navigators are less well known and gets a lot less. Anyway I see nothing rude about falling to respond to unsolicited emails which have a wide distribution, and indeed a flood of declines may not be welcome. OTOH something from the local mayor addressed to local youth organisations and with a more restricted circulation would normally get a response. Not quite sure how this email fits in that simple model.

    Scouting is one of the most inconsistent and diverse provisions. for youth. Despite every attempt by TSA to ensure a balanced programme and award scheme every section is different. So I can't be surprised that citizenship is hardly at the top of the interest list of many sections who may already miss other programme areas, it's not exactly a well understood or remotely exciting prospect.

    Community is better addressed by many sections I think, and many have their pet projects with quite some variety.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    I'm afraid we get several items of unsolicited email each week, normally from commercial organisations and often passed via County. Maybe navigators are less well known and gets a lot less. Anyway I see nothing rude about falling to respond to unsolicited emails which have a wide distribution, and indeed a flood of declines may not be welcome. OTOH something from the local mayor addressed to local youth organisations and with a more restricted circulation would normally get a response. Not quite sure how this email fits in that simple model.

    Scouting is one of the most inconsistent and diverse provisions. for youth. Despite every attempt by TSA to ensure a balanced programme and award scheme every section is different. So I can't be surprised that citizenship is hardly at the top of the interest list of many sections who may already miss other programme areas, it's not exactly a well understood or remotely exciting prospect.

    Community is better addressed by many sections I think, and many have their pet projects with quite some variety.


    The approach isn't really unsolicited, for us. We have adopted the local authority provision, for what it is, as a support facility. In all honesty it is probably on a par with what we got from TSA.

    I have always argued that Scouting has no consistency, grass roots provision rarely meets the ideals sold by HQ, and what one group does is rarely the same as the next group.

    There is nothing wrong with getting involved in local community projects but for our older members, I think we may need to offer a little more than environmental work, or visitng the elderly. I'd guess that from our Navs, perhaps one will be politically motivated to participate, but perhaps if we help develop awareness we can encourage young people to exercise their vote when they are of age.
    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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