Scout numbers in Chichester increase

The Scouting population in Chichester is flourishing – growing by more than four times the national average in a year.

An annual report about scouting across the UK has revealed numbers in Chichester currently stand at 737 – an increase of 12 per cent – and has resulted in a new group being set up in West Dean to take in the northern part of the area.

More than 80 new Scouts have joined groups in Chichester over the past year, largely as a result of a new group starting in West Dean last summer. It now has 35 members across the Beaver and Cub sections.

Recruitment and development officer for West Sussex Scouts, Mark Guy, said waiting lists in some areas were long.

“In the city area definitely there are waiting lists for the beaver colonies and cub packs – our two younger sections – and then out into the villages it can be different, but across the age groups there is a demand for those two age groups.

“In some cases people on the list will never get in, unless we open up more groups which is why we opened a group in West Dean to cover the Lavant Valley area because there was particular demand from the northern end of Chichester.”

Mr Guy said parents were recognising the value of Scouting for a number of reasons including its cost-effectiveness compared to other activities such as ballet and horseriding and even clubs for sports such as basketball and football.

“Scouting offers a variety of activities,” he said. “Young people get to have a go at lots of different activities, outdoor and indoor and learning practical skills as well. Bear Grylls has really helped the appeal of Scouting, it’s come alive again, and I think he appeals to lots of young people who want to go out and do some of the things he does, although maybe not so extreme.”

Mark said groups depended on volunteers and there was a key role for flexible volunteers, as well as people who could give their time on a more regular basis.

Explorer Scout Jack, 15, said: “Not only do I get the opportunity to take part in a number of adventures but I also get to put something back into my local community.”