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Update to Members from the CEO

Dear <<First Name>>,
Over the next six weeks we all face the challenge of delivering safe scouting on the ground to our young people. The general advice to the public is to stay at home unless it is essential, and it is vitally important to follow the guidance right now. The Scouting Ireland’s Scouting Through Covid-19 Roadmap is developed in line with the DCYA guideline document for the youth sector. The Roadmap on our website is the most up to date for you to follow. We do know that aspects of the current DCYA guidance is under review with our move to level 5 restrictions. We will update our Scouting Ireland Roadmap as soon as we are informed of change from DCYA. The Government understands the importance of Scouting (youth work) and are considering suggestions made by DCYA for how the youth sector who provides structured, positive, outlet through appropriate programme can be better recognised in the current road map at level 5.  
Since joining Scouting Ireland, I have been continually amazed by our youth members. From Beaver Scouts helping their families, through to Cubs, Scouts with many projects included in the report attached, to Rover Scouts stepping up to serve on the front lines of this pandemic, Scouting Ireland has no shortage of incredible young people. To any young person reading this letter, and I would encourage sharing it with them, know that your actions throughout this crisis are valued and appreciated by all those around you. Anything you can do to help those around you will be hugely and deeply welcomed.
In my first six weeks, before lockdown in March, I have been lucky enough to meet a large number of our adult volunteers and had planned to meet many more of you, this has not been possible. However, I do look forward to meeting you when it is possible to move around the country again.
Scouting Ireland would not function without our Scouters. Our inspiring Scouters are the drivers of our programme, constantly upskilling and innovating to provide a more engaging programme than ever before. Our adult volunteers have arranged virtual scout halls; hosting quizzes and video calls, and as restrictions started to lift in June, you organised outdoor activities, hikes and camps for our youth members. Recent research shows that young people involved in youth work are doing better through this pandemic, they have better mental health and are more resilient to the challenges. You are making this difference in your Scouts lives. Please remember the importance of the work you all do; you have a positive impact in the lives of young people. This is needed now more than ever. We need to teach our youth members, through Scouting, to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient young people.
I have included a copy of our Pandemic Taskforce Report. This report demonstrates the great community supports Scouts and Scouters provided throughout the country covering the first few months of living with this pandemic. It does not list all the incredible work achieved by you, our youth members, Scouters and Scout Groups, but is just a snapshot of the impact Scouting has had in our communities. To all our Scout Groups around the country, thank you.   
I know how difficult it has been for every Scout Group over the last seven months. With that in mind, we asked you to complete a survey in August 2020 to tell us of the difficulties you are experiencing. Thank you to the 264 groups who responded. This information is helping us develop supports and it has greatly aided me in ensuring your concerns and challenges are presented to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA). Please find below in Appendix 1 a general update.
We will continue to bring you more online programme ideas on the website and continue to widen our supports to meet your needs. Your work as a Scouter is important, the positive impact you have is enormous. We will never be able to put into words just how consequential your work during these difficult times will be. Please understand that our youth members need Scouting and together we will find ways to continue to deliver it to them. We need to reimagine how we deliver Scouting Programme throughout this challenging time. The full team of the national office, the Provincial Team and County Teams are here to help you. Things will get better and we have to be sure that we remind our youth members of this, they need all our support.
Yours sincerely,

Anne Griffin
Chief Executive Officer
Scouting Ireland

Appendix 1: General Update
  • Since March 2020, I have represented Scouting Ireland on the Youth Sector Oversight Group formed by DCYA in response to Covid-19 and how the youth sector should and could adapt to ensure delivery of youth work to our young people. It has resulted in the youth sectors valuable contribution to young people’s lives being acknowledged and prioritised at this time. Scouting Ireland provides a structured, positive outlet through our programme to young people. This has been recognised and has resulted in youth sector specific guidance allowing young people to meet in larger groups than for the general public. The Scouting Ireland roadmap, Scouting Through Covid-19, is updated in line with the DCYA youth sector specific guidance. Please be assured we are doing all that we can to provide you with the most up to date, and of course safe guidance, in line with government advice.
  • The Volunteer Resource Management and Groups Support Team have developed recourses to assist with day to day scouting at group and section level. These are on our website. The support teams of our Support Staff, County Commissioners and Provincial Commissioners are here to assist groups with advice for problems you may be experiencing.  
  • The registration of Groups with the CRA is advancing with additional information material developed to support Groups through the next step of the process. The team are about to launch a series of online seminars for Groups, details on how to book a place will be available shortly. 
  • The Training Project Team worked to transfer our Safeguarding Refresher training module and Being a Scouter training module online. We now have over 800 Scouters receiving or scheduled to receive this training. We will continue to provide this online training for as long as it is needed. 
  • The website is updated regularly with programme ideas for groups by section with indoor, outdoor, and online suggestions. There are also sections on STEM Resources, useful links, Covid FAQ and a new section Questions and Answers - where you can post a question and help others by providing an answer. There have been several different open calls for the Programme Services Department project teams over the last few months - you will see more programme resources published over the coming weeks. A new Sustainability Development Officer is in place so you can expect more information concerning this aspect of Scouting in the coming weeks and months. 
  • The Safeguarding Department have been working on a new safeguarding policy and Code of Behaviour for Adults Working with Children. They are about to roll out a series of online information seminars to introduce you to the new policy. They will also provide online seminars which will allow you to meet the team and provide a space for you to ask questions regarding safeguarding our young people while Scouting during the pandemic. We will be confirming dates for these seminars shortly. 
  • We have been working on an upgrade of our Membership Management System which will be rolled out early next year. We are aware of some of the challenges our members have faced when using our current system. This upgrade will provide you with better management of your Scout Group members information, badge management, communication with parents and guardians, online consent and more. This upgrade will be more user friendly, with additional functionality and of no extra cost. We will have more information on this for you soon.
  • We continue to plan for national events for next year. However, we are currently reviewing every event with their project team - considering what’s possible with the current information and restrictions and what may be possible to deliver. We would like certainty but as you know this is just not possible in a time when the country, and the world, is in a pandemic. Our priority is the safety of all and to comply with the Governments guidelines for events. With this in mind, we are now planning some online events, and after the online AGM we know this is possible. We aim to have a Scouters Conference and Youth Forum early next year - we are developing these plans at the moment. More information regarding dates and programme will be given as soon as format and dates are confirmed. 
  • Over the next weeks and months there will be short online information seminars provided based on different topics. If you have any suggestions for what you would like us to cover please let us know. These will include topics about Group finances, Group & GDPR, Running Online Meeting and more. We will keep you updated through the weekly mailing. 
  • The 12 Days of Christmas tickets have been posted to all groups in the ROI. You should receive them before the end of this week. This is a great opportunity for local fundraising. However, we are aware that the new Covid-19 restrictions announced this week are causing concern for many Scout Groups. To help Groups overcome this challenge we will be sending you in the coming week information with ideas and suggestions for how you can safely sell your tickets and raise the much needed funds for your Scout Group at this time. 
  • Some groups have asked questions concerning our census returns and registration fees. The Board of Scouting Ireland has considered this year’s registration fee and it will remain the same as last year’s registration fee. To try to assist groups facing difficulties a new staged payment plan has been approved by the Board. They have also confirmed that our county rebates scheme will continue. The details of this staged payment will be confirmed to you in an email next week. We are aware that some Groups, and their members, have difficulties at this time. 
  • Scouting supports have continued since March and if you are having difficulty providing a scouting programme or with anything else please contact your support team. There are supports and programme ideas we can help you with. Don’t forget the importance of the work you all do in your Scout Groups; you have a positive impact in the lives of young people. This is needed now more than ever; the national office team of Professional Staff and Volunteers are here to help and support you. We continue to develop further supports for you.
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Scouting Ireland · National Office · Larch Hill · Dublin 16, · Ireland