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As a new decade dawns, we have good reason to be excited about what it may hold.

As a new decade dawns; we see a bright future for young people - but it won't be without effort and will require collaboration to make the best use of resources.

A quick search of the web and you'll find a range of statistics about how much less public sector funds are being spent on youth services, than was spent at the beginning of the decade. Although the figures differ; it's clear that there have been drastic reductions - and that the potential impact is far reaching.

Given this landscape, Third Sector organisations, such as The Scouts are needed more than ever before, and we're doing our bit to help address the challenge of ensuring that young people have the opportunity to develop Skills for Life through non-formal education.

Earlier this year, The Children’s Society recently published ‘The Good Childhood Report 2019‘ and it’s a fascinating read. It’s the eighth edition of their annual report and summarises their studies of the state of the well-being of children in the UK. The report is informed through a research partnership with the University of York and was initiated to ensure that the voices of young people are given a platform and the opportunity to influence public debates about their well-being – with 67,000 young people having been engaged.

Key points I interpreted from the report:

  • Since 2010/11, there has been a steady decrease in how happy children are with life as a whole;
  • Happiness with friends and school is at the lowest level since 2009/10;
  • No significant changes in happiness with family, schoolwork and appearance over the last 10 years;
  • When considering their futures, children are most concerned about having enough money, finding employment and getting good grades – with existing but lesser concerns in relation to mental and physical health;
  • In relation to broader societal challenges, children are most concerned about crime, the environment, cyber-related matters and homelessness.

Elements of this are a stark contrast from what we see every day of the week, and which was confirmed through The Scouts most recent impact study. Comparing Scouts with non-Scouts; here are just some of the ways our volunteers are changing young people’s lives. Our young people are: 

  • Problem solvers - they score 7.6% higher 

  • Team players - they score 6% higher 

  • Developing leadership skills - they score 12.7% higher 

  • Developing greater independence - they score 15.6% higher 

  • Better communicators - they score 9.3% higher 

  • Happier - they score 5.8% higher 

  • Developing higher perseverance and grit - they score 4.8% higher 

  • More likely to try new things - they score 8.6% higher 

  • More likely to have the courage to take risks and tackle challenging activities - they score 16% higher 

It's clear from a number of studies, that the fragmented approach to delivering the services that young people require of society is lessening the potential combined impact on their wellbeing. We have a great unrealised opportunity to develop much closer collaboration between the bodies, services and organisations serving young people. Albeit they’ll often be worded differently, these bodies largely have similar objectives – broadly to create bright futures for young people by developing good health and wellbeing, developing life skills, fostering inclusion and integration, tackling key social issues, lessening social exclusion, developing aspirations and enabling choices.

Merseyside Scouts see great opportunity for public sector, private sector and third sector organisations to increase their collaboration, focused on specific outcomes, and radically improve the impact on wellbeing of young people - and we're ready to play our part.

Here's to the next decade, and all the potential ahead of us - and a massive thank you to all of our amazing volunteers who make our life-changing work a reality.

Happy New Year.

Peter Oliver
County Commissioner