We aim to support and develop young people in their personal development, health and wellbeing and life experiences and to make a positive contribution to society. This is achieved by membership to the Scout Association where young people have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of programme activities and events from arts and crafts, canoeing and climbing, visits to community venues, team building and confidence building and other skills for life.
To provide young people with such a wide variety of programmes and activities in a safe and enjoyable way, the adult volunteers need to be well trained and equipped to deliver the programmes. We support leaders in local Scout groups by providing training and development opportunities for adults so that they can deliver high quality programmes to the young people they work with.
The Adult Training Scheme covers a range of topics including administration, fundamentals of scouting, first aid, programme planning, practical skills, growing the section, skills of leadership and many more.
We also own and operate Hesley Wood Scout Activity Centre which is 132 acres of open fields and ancient woodland and offers young people, from within Scouting and from local schools, colleges and many other community organisations, the opportunity to participate in a whole range of outdoor adventurous activities such as climbing, zip wire, obstacle course, team building etc.
The size of the site provides lots of space for young people to explore the great outdoors and can bring their camping equipment to stay overnight. Hesley Wood has 3 accommodation buildings that can be used for groups to stay indoors overnight or to use as indoor spaces to participate in craft activities and for use for catering purposes.
Hesley Wood usually run several large-scale events throughout the year. These include Freezer Camp where participants camp out in their tents in February, Spooktacular Halloween themed event and Winter Wonderland Christmas themed event. We have successfully run Scouttastic which is a large-scale action-packed weekend of camping and activities which sees around 3,000 people taking part and includes its own fairground.
By the nature of the camping and adventurous activities provided by Hesley Wood it generates the majority of its income during the summer months from April to September and therefore has been significantly impacted by Covid-19 as the activity centre had to close down on 23rd March 2020 in line with Government instructions has had a very limited reopening from September with restrictions on which services we are able to provide.
Hesley Wood are following the Government guidelines which is being managed by the National Youth Agency. Following this guidance means that we will not be able to provide large scale events or overnight residential activities until the National Youth Agency readiness level changes to Green (where there are no new Covid-19 cases or where a vaccine is readily available). We therefore expect to be impacted for the remainder of our Financial Year.
Hesley Wood should have been running its Scouttastic event in July 2020 which has had to be cancelled because of Covid-19, as this large-scale event with around 3,000 people expected to attend this has significantly impacted our income. The Scouttastic event which was cancelled for 2020 has been rescheduled for 2021 which will help to generate income for the 2021/22 financial year.
Our plans for future sustainability of Hesley Wood are by promoting the centre and the products and services it has to offer by social media. Since the lockdown was lifted several small teams of staff and volunteers have been working hard on ongoing maintenance and improvement projects so that the centre is ready for use and is more modern and attractive to youth groups when we are able to reopen. We are already receiving and responding to enquiries from more schools, colleges and local community organisations who want to use our outdoor space and we are doing all we can at the moment to meet their needs without charging them inflated rates.
Several new projects are being undertaken to help develop the centre to draw more young people into the centre. For example, we have an old derelict outdoor swimming pool which we have converted into a Nature area where young people will be able to study wildlife and nature, the old pump room was converted into a bird hide and shelter for young people to sit in whilst completing worksheets and nature studies. This can be linked to the National curriculum and will encourage school groups to come and visit the centre. A large proportion of this project will be completed by volunteers and we successfully received grants towards the costs of this and other projects.
Sustainability of Hesley Wood can be achieved by maintaining and growing the number of youth members who pay an annual membership fee. The membership of young people has increased year on year since 2015 and as volunteer leaders have been delivering excellent virtual scouting during the lockdown, we expect the membership to decrease next year due to the impact of COVID-19 but hope that encouraging schools, colleges and other youth community groups to use the site we can sustain Hesley Wood for the future benefit of young people.