Suffolk Scouts face ‘perfect storm’ from Covid-19, says county commissioner

Scouts groups across Suffolk are in need of community help, the county commisioner has said. Picture

Scouts groups across Suffolk are in need of community help, the county commisioner has said. Picture: JON CHALLICOM - Credit: Jon Challicom

Suffolk’s Scout commissioner has made a plea for public help as groups face a “perfect storm” of problems following the coronavirus.

Mark Pearson has made the calls after it was revealed that 500 Scout groups across the UK were “at risk” of closure due to financial difficulties.

Suffolk Scouts currently see approximately 6,000 young people aged six to 18 taking part in activities every week and support over 100 Scout groups and Explorer Units across the county.

Mr Pearson listed three major issues affecting the group which he described as a “perfect storm”.

“When lockdown happened we had two or three weeks and then we were out there again running Scouting through Zoom calls,” he said.

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“Not all groups have been able to get back and this is part of the perfect storm we now have.”

Only 40% of groups across Suffolk are back having face-to-face meetings, with thousands of children still missing their usual service.

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“The first reason for this is that some of our leaders and volunteers are key workers so they can’t come back yet,” he added.

“For some of them it’s personal health conditions as well, so a lot of them have not been able to get back to running groups.

“The second reason is that not every Scout group has their own building and some of the venues they hire have not reopened yet, so they can’t go back.

“Thirdly is the funding. Everyone pays subs but the other part of that is the fundraising we do for example, bag packing and events. All of those give us all general concerns.”

In response to funding issues for more than 500 groups across the UK, a national scheme, called Race Around the World will challenge members to travel as many miles as they can to contribute to a virtual tour of the world in a bid to receive donations. However, Mr Pearson called on locals to give back to the groups which have contributed “a lot” over the years.

He said: “The scheme will hopefully help with the funding but we also need more leaders to help us and we need people who might have a building to rent to groups to help.

“I feel we have done a lot to support our communities over years and it’s our turn now to put our hands up and ask for a little bit back.”

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