I am so proud of the great things that Scouts do in local communities up and down the country. Now, with the launch of A Million Hands, our new campaign to empower young people to take social action, we're set to make even more of an impact.
Almost three quarters (73%) of Scouts participate in social action at least once every week, volunteering personal time to help others through activities, such as mentoring or improving local spaces.
That's great news, but not all young people are getting the same opportunity.
New research commissioned by The Scout Association and conducted by ComRes reveals that, while 82% of 12-24 year-olds in the UK believe it is important for today's youth to tackle social issues, only 36% believe that they have the chance to do so.
This means that the UK may be losing out on over 15.4 million hours of youth volunteering time every month*. That's the sort of statistic that infuriates me. The willingness is there; it's just the opportunities that are lacking.
Promoting social action
That's where I think A Million Hands will make a difference. The campaign is set to provide opportunities for 500,000 young Scouts to tackle four of the biggest issues facing the UK and the wider world through social action.
Together, we'll be improving the lives of those affected by dementia, improving the lives of the disabled, improving the mental wellbeing and resilience of families, and ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation. These are all issues that were chosen by Scouts themselves. They're pretty inspiring choices.
But we can't do this alone.
In Scouting, we believe in the success of partnerships and that's why we're so pleased to be working with our charity partners on this campaign, which include Mind, Alzheimer's Society, WaterAid, Guide Dogs, The Canal & River Trust and Leonard Cheshire Disability. It's fantastic to be joining forces with these great charities and to be creating positive social change on a huge scale.
We're also calling on young people up and down the country to visit their local Scout group and to get involved in this exciting campaign. Not only is A Million Hands a fantastic opportunity for young people to change their local communities for the better, it's also a chance for them to remove the wholly unfair negative perception of young people that exists in UK society today.
So if you're a young person, excited by the idea of making a difference in the world, then why not get involved in A Million Hands. Not only will you find it massively rewarding, you'll have great fun too!
*This figure is based on the ComRes 2015 polling and the ONS Mid-Year 2014 Population Report. It shows the mean number of hours that young people who say they do not currently participate in social action at least once a month, say they would be willing to do.