Scouts Speak Up

Ayers Explorer Scout Unit from Carlisle, and The Scout Association as a whole, believe in youth engagement. An example of this can be seen through the national Scouts Speak Up initiative. The events give young people the chance to meet MPs and councillors to discuss issues that affect them, their families and communities.

Scouts Speak Up seeks to positively engage the youth membership and the adult leaders who support them in sharing experiences directly with those people that make decision about the communities in which they live.

At the events held at Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour party conferences as well apolitical venues; MPs have round table discussions with young people, a wide range of issues are discussed, involving local issues to foreign affairs. Also, MPs are told by attendees about how Scouting has enriched lives and how scouting contributes to local communities.

At one event, Ayers members were joined by Sir Alan Beith MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed. The scouts talked about their concerns for the future; how the skills they had learned in Scouting might help them in future life and how they thought politicians could help them to fulfil their potential.

Ayers Explorer’s Alex Bie (18) says “A lot of young people can feel disengaged with politics as they feel there is a lack of opportunity for young people to be involved and get their voices heard. The Speak Up events allow scouts to have direct engagement with decision makers, which is a fantastic thing, as young people leave the event feeling involved and valued within the political system”. Carlisle scout leader Eddie Ward comments “As well as providing fun, adventure and challenge, The UK Scout Association believes in promoting a youth led movement, and this is just one of the many ways we try and achieve this”.

Carlisle’s MP John Stevenson is an Ambassador for Scouting in Cumbria. He says “The Scouts Speak Up event at this year’s Conservative Conference was a great opportunity for young people involved in Scouting to ask questions of their MP. It also provided them with an opportunity to make their views known to their elected representatives. The group of Scouts who I met from Carlisle had some fantastic ideas. It is always good to hear the views of my constituents on a range of issues. As a Scouting Ambassador I would encourage the Scouts to continue to provide opportunities for young people to engage with politics and MP’s.”

Commenting on the events Chief Scout Bear Grylls said, “I want members to feel empowered to fulfil their ambitions, valued for the contribution they make and to feel proud of everything they do.” He added, “For all those campaigning for a fairer deal for young people and Scouting I say well done, keep at it and don’t give up. Together, we’re stronger.”