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Good Law Project has been supporting Yours in Scouting – a campaign led by abuse victims – to overhaul safeguarding in the Scouts. ‘Our voices have been heard,’ says Sheanna Patelmaster.
We did it!
After five months of campaigning, over 70 testimonies submitted and 7280 petition signatures, The Scout Association is taking steps on all three of our calls to action.
Safeguarding concerns will no longer be reported through unpaid local volunteers. Instead, they’ll be dealt with by the association’s paid national safeguarding team.
The board has approved funds for a UK-wide assurance team to make sure local Scouting groups follow the correct policies and procedures – including independent external audit and verification – from the first half of 2024.
The board has also commissioned an independent specialist organisation to create a new lived experience panel for Scouts, so survivors can get bespoke support and counselling where required and their voices are heard as part of the Scouts decision-making.
I can’t believe the campaign actually worked. I thought we’d be plugging away for years. I am so, so glad that they are making these changes. Children in the Scouts are going to be so much safer, and the organisation that I once loved being a part of – and grew to be horribly disappointed in – seems to be trying to sort itself out.
And that’s hopeful. It shows that the voices of everyone who has supported our campaign by sharing their stories or signing our petition matter. We can actually change things, even when it seems like the odds are stacked against us. When you’re a kid who’s abused by someone you trust, you don’t feel like you have any power, you aren’t in control – it feels insurmountable. I am so grateful to every single person who has shared their experiences with us. It’s an incredibly brave thing to do, and now we’ve shown that together our voices do have power.
To me it feels like closing a chapter of my life.
I’m not going to stop campaigning though. We need the Government to update their positions of trust legislation to include leaders from uniformed youth organisations, or to require all youth charities like The Scouts to have an independently audited inspection regime.
But as far as The Scout Association goes, I feel a lot more at peace knowing that kids in the Scouts from now on will be far safer than I was.