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Thread: Hardship policy

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    Hardship policy

    Who has a hardship policy?

    Do you advertise it? Or do you keep it quiet?

    Do you find it gets abused?

    Our group finds itself in need of one. But as an exec we are running a bit scared.


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    We don't have a hardship policy, but would see what we could do to support someone if they approached us to ask for help.

    Small, informal decision as discreetly as possible on a case by case basis.

    We generally favour support for events/ trips and camps asking those struggling to ensure their subs are priority and we'll help with the "other stuff".
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    GSL/ESL(YL)/TA Mark W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by claire.shadbolt View Post
    Who has a hardship policy?
    Do you advertise it? Or do you keep it quiet?
    Do you find it gets abused?
    We have a policy, we don't advertise it. Exec allows GSL to exercise discretion who gets assistance limited to all subs waived, one activity and one camp paid for. Our issue is more about tracking down those who won't ask for help before leaving us. We've found that informers let us know who is trying it on {they say they can't afford scouts, but they've just got a new car, TV, been abroad on holiday, etc}
    If it was easy, it wouldn't be so much fun...
    GSL 1st Aylburton & Lydney, TA, ESL(YL), District Campsite Warden & webmanager .....only 1 hour a week, they said (not pointing out that was what was left)

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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    Our policy was half price subs for siblings, as we had some families with 4 or 5 kids in the group, and we also had a discretionary waiver on subs that could be applied. We also ran a uniform bank, where we recycled jumpers, shirts, activity wear and also sleeping bags, hiking boots etc. Also if parent attended camp they would get half price for their child. We could afford to do this as we had 3 beaver lodges, 3 cub packs, 2 scout troops, and an explorer unit, so we could reach critical mass for running costs on about 70 subscriptions and we had nearly 200 on the books. I would think it would much harder to do all this in a smaller group.

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    We don't have a policy and we don't advertise it. But we do help people out from time to time.

    If we had a policy then we might have to follow it. Much easier to deal with it on a case by case basis. We are much more likely to help out a keen well behaved scout whose parents have suffered health issues than one with flakey attendance and poor behaviour whose parents have a 100inch telly and are glued to their iPhone 11's

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    Scout Leader (Bosun) Nick's Avatar
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    With hardship cases often staged payments for events and subs will help a lot, much easier to pay a smaller amount each month than a large amount in one go. Don't over look the help that can be given by local fundraising groups such as the Rotary or Lions who have been known to "adopt" a Scout to ensure they can participate in Scouting. Also check at District and County level for hardship funds, the group may not need to contribute themselves.

    So far we haven't had our policy abused, we just try and be sensitive to each request. Be mindful of hardship families that go on holiday - sometimes grandparents will treat the family.

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    Senior Member Puzzledbyadream's Avatar
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    I second the Rotary/Lions/Round Table. I remember a family in Scouting who had 6 children, and the Rotary paid most of their subs to allow them to take part, especially as the older children were young leaders and the like.

    It's a tricky one to know who needs the help. Speaking from personal experience, my Father liked to spend a lot of money on his vices, meaning that although on paper we weren't eligible for many benefits (nor would we have been classed as "pupil premium" at school), we were living on very little money. I once mortified my mum by telling my entire Brownie pack that we couldn't afford to go on pack holiday, and we could never go on any camps which weren't local, weekend or otherwise extremely cheap. My mum would never have dreamt of asking for help, but we missed out on a lot of things.

    I guess I'm kind of trying to say be very careful with "spies". My dad definitely shouldn't have been spending our money on what he was spending it on, but that wasn't the fault of myself and my sisters. Obviously a flashy new car is a bit different to an addiction, but you never know the full circumstances of a family.
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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    It is a very difficult area and whilst we have the ability to help, we are very careful about offering help.

    We find that if WE approach and offer help, the offer is seen as embarassing and patronising. Usually, offering a subsidy on fees/ costs etc. results in the departure of the members shortly after.

    We had kids without boots - so we collected unused boots - some in "as new" condition. We offered them openly to all, free of charge. Not even those who could not afford a pair of boots took the offer up. When we approached and offered the boots direct, we lost the kids.

    I have twice been asked for discount on subs, both times by families with an ostentatious lifestyle - - ie big house, fancy car, multiple foriegn holidays, expensive clothes.

    We have had people who missed subs payments or gave us rubber cheques - in each case they had just lost their jobs and rather than push the issue, we let it go. One of them offered to backdate subs when he got a new job. We declined his offer.

    We do operate in a fairly afluent area, but the gap between both ends of society is still there. The real challenge is that those at the lower end of the scale tend not to want to join what they see as elitist groups such as Scouts or Guides - or even Navigators. Heck, they don't want to join anything much at all...

    NB - My group had a policy that Leaders kids did not pay subs. There were times when if this was not the case my kids would not have been able to attend. Had someone approached me as a parents and said, I hear that you could benefit from a moratarium on membership fees, I think that I would have been mortified. I know that when I went to the job centre and one of the staff was a parent of a friend of my own kids, I was absolutely horrified that my situation would be "known.
    Last edited by Bushfella; 14-03-2019 at 08:25 AM.
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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Yep. From the key policy in POR:

    "No young person should receive less favourable treatment on the basis of, nor suffer
    disadvantage by reason of:
     Class or socio-economic status; "

    And I try and remember to put this on the bottom of all the descriptions of events in OSM:
    "As ever, if money is an issue, please talk to a leader in confidence. Money (or lack of) is not a barrier to taking part in Scout activities."

    No official policy, no set aside "fund", we just do what we can when we need to.
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    We also operate in an affluent area, but these things are relative.

    We've had parents who can afford but can't justify the cost of camps - but - will send their kids on school camp, that on average cost about three or four times what ours do for essentially the same or more.

    Other than that, pretty much what Dr Pepper said. Our's is a small village, people know what's going on, so if someone is in the lurch (if they are, it's usually a family break up) then we'll discreetly help, usually by speaking to the kids. We have what I hope is an atmosphere/relationship that is conducive to such conversations, or at least we try to.

    In which regard, I suppose that is our hardship policy - it's not just about money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post

    We've had parents who can afford but can't justify the cost of camps - but - will send their kids on school camp, that on average cost about three or four times what ours do for essentially the same or more.
    This is a challenge. When we do an international we always get, "Oh that is too expensive."

    Then they send their kids on a three day trip with two nights on buses, that costs as much as our 10 days away.

    I offer a detailed programme and ask them to compare. When I cost out trips, I also cost out the school equivalent and now a Scottish and English equivalent. Ridiculously, 10 days in Alsace is cheaper than a week in the Peak District...

    I got on the mailing list for one firm offering school trips to Ypres. They were not only more expensive for four days, but they didn't include everything that we did on our trip.
    Ewan Scott

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    The unpaid help ASLChris's Avatar
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    One key way we halp those who are struggling financially is permitting and encouraging payment of camps and events in particular over a period of time rather than up front. This means that they do not feel like they are accepting charity and, as it is available to all, no-one is obviously "different".

    We also don't charge subs on a termly basis, but on a weekly basis - though we do publish what the termly cost is to parents, so those who can and wish to can pay upfront.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark W View Post
    We have a policy, we don't advertise it. Exec allows GSL to exercise discretion who gets assistance limited to all subs waived, one activity and one camp paid for. Our issue is more about tracking down those who won't ask for help before leaving us. We've found that informers let us know who is trying it on {they say they can't afford scouts, but they've just got a new car, TV, been abroad on holiday, etc}
    And what's wrong with that ? Is Scouts for one child more important than a TV for the whole family, or the ability to travel to work, or a very much needed holiday for the whole family. I've heard that argument so many times - It's absolutely not up to us to judge how a family spends it's spare cash but how much of it there is relatively, that's what makes it so hard for a hardship policy to be fair. And looking at our most expensive group, sending 2 children through the whole 10 years would cost around 4000, and that's just subs, add 5 summer camps to each child, uniform and a few weekends land we're up at well over 6500, rather more than a new TV.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    This is a challenge. When we do an international we always get, "Oh that is too expensive."

    Then they send their kids on a three day trip with two nights on buses, that costs as much as our 10 days away.

    I offer a detailed programme and ask them to compare. When I cost out trips, I also cost out the school equivalent and now a Scottish and English equivalent. Ridiculously, 10 days in Alsace is cheaper than a week in the Peak District...

    I got on the mailing list for one firm offering school trips to Ypres. They were not only more expensive for four days, but they didn't include everything that we did on our trip.
    Much discussed on 1st FB, where the normal and sensible (IMO) conclusion, is that school trips are more important to parents and YP. Regardless of VFM they offer a social experience with a wide friendship group which can't be equalled in Scouts. It would be a massive issue for a child to put up with their peers retelling stories of the "Swanage youth hostel" trips for months or years afterward whilst they counter with a Scout trip which is meaningless to the majority of their friends. So if you can only afford one then for me it would be school every time...

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    Much discussed on 1st FB, where the normal and sensible (IMO) conclusion, is that school trips are more important to parents and YP. Regardless of VFM they offer a social experience with a wide friendship group which can't be equalled in Scouts. It would be a massive issue for a child to put up with their peers retelling stories of the "Swanage youth hostel" trips for months or years afterward whilst they counter with a Scout trip which is meaningless to the majority of their friends. So if you can only afford one then for me it would be school every time...
    A lot depends on the parents and the child.

    I only ever went on one overnight event with school and that was a special from primary school. I think my parents struggled to afford it but I wanted to go.

    I did not go on any other trips away with other schools as they were both expensive and in some cases of no interest to me. I did however, go on most if not all the Scout Camps offered both weekends and week long. They were easier to pay for and less of a cost and possibly in those days less of my friends wanted to go on school trips. Most of my friends were scouts so going on an overpriced skiing trip to france/Switzerland etc were of no interest to us.

    I know a lot of current scouts whose parents shun school trips unless there is to be seen a specific learning rather than a pure fun trip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    And what's wrong with that ? Is Scouts for one child more important than a TV for the whole family, or the ability to travel to work, or a very much needed holiday for the whole family. I've heard that argument so many times - It's absolutely not up to us to judge how a family spends it's spare cash but how much of it there is relatively, that's what makes it so hard for a hardship policy to be fair. And looking at our most expensive group, sending 2 children through the whole 10 years would cost around 4000, and that's just subs, add 5 summer camps to each child, uniform and a few weekends land we're up at well over 6500, rather more than a new TV.
    To be fair, there is another side to this. If parents are taking advantage of a hardship fund, then other parents will be coughing up for it. I can actually see your point of view - outward displays of wealth are relative. But it's not quite as straightforward as someone just not paying because it then means someone else will be.


    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    Much discussed on 1st FB, where the normal and sensible (IMO) conclusion, is that school trips are more important to parents and YP. Regardless of VFM they offer a social experience with a wide friendship group which can't be equalled in Scouts. It would be a massive issue for a child to put up with their peers retelling stories of the "Swanage youth hostel" trips for months or years afterward whilst they counter with a Scout trip which is meaningless to the majority of their friends. So if you can only afford one then for me it would be school every time...
    Yup. Sadly true. Kids/parents will go with the critical mass choice pretty much every time. That said, I'd put my Explorer trips up against any school trip any day of the week. We deliberately avoided paid-for activities and organised the kind of activities money couldn't buy. Being Scouts can open so many interesting doors for young folks and leaders alike.

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