The current New Forest North and New Forest West Scout districts are merging. We know you may have lots of questions about the merger, so here we’ll try our best to answer them.
Parents and Young People
What will this mean for my local Scouts?
Honestly, very little. This is all about supporting our volunteers better so your local Scout section or Scout group won’t be going away. Instead we want to give our young people more opportunities to take part in great events, to learn new skills and to have a great Scout experience.
What will change?
We are only at the beginning of this process so we won’t know for sure until we are further along. Depending on where you do your Scouting you may have access to new events with other Scouts or to new facilities like the Harry’s Island campsite in Burley. There may also be some changes to the badges we wear to identify where we live.
Why are the two districts merging?
As Scouts, we’re here to give young people skills for life. We want to do this for as many young people as possible and we believe that by merging these two districts we’ll be able to do this even better than we currently are.
The experience from across the UK is that in the digital age, larger districts than we currently have work best for Scouting. Having a strong district team, so we can best support our local volunteers, is vital to this and larger districts mean having a larger pool of expertise to draw upon.
Why is this change happening now?
We all know the last year has been tough on the Scouts. Thanks to the amazing work of our volunteer leaders, we’ve retained a lot of our Scouts and volunteers for the future and are poised and ready to grow again. In both districts, we have generally strong Scout groups and Explorer Scout units supporting them every step along the way.
To help us bounce back though, we need to make sure that there is an equally strong district team to support local Scouting. We can’t afford to wait if we want to give the benefits of Scouting to the most young people in our patch.
If all goes to plan, the merger will be complete by October 2021 so everything is settled ahead of the next Scout Census in January 2022.
What will the newly merged district be called?
No decisions have been made yet on this. We want to make sure it represents our area and is easily understood by those outside of the Scouts.
We know that this will require updating some items at a local level such as badges, signs and flags. We’ll have advice and support for groups and sections in time for this, check back here for more information at a later date.
Who is leading the merger project?
We’ve got lots of experienced people working to make sure the merger goes smoothly and is successful for the benefit of our Scouts.
Jointly leading both of our current districts is our Team DC made up of five people who between them cover the role of district commissioner for both New Forest North and New Forest West. Ian Sims, Robin Mair and Lynn Tatavossian have been Team DC for New Forest North since September 2019. Lynn began serving New Forest West as acting DC during 2020 and is now joined in supporting the West by Kevin Harmer and Ryan Parry.
Supporting from Hampshire Scouts is Donna Kerrigan, deputy county commissioner and lead for the New Forest project who has a long history of the New Forest West district. We also have the support of Melissa Salisbury from the Growth and Development team.
We’ll soon be forming a working party to iron out the details and answer the technical questions on our volunteers minds.
When will the merger be happening and when will we know more?
The merging of the two districts will be complete before the Scout Census in January 2022 with a current plan to finish merging by October 2021.
The team organising this have spoken with the district teams and executive committees from both districts to find out what their vision for the merger is and a draft timeline has been produced. Once we’ve sorted a few things out, we’ll be able to keep you updated so do check back.
The new Team DC of five have now distributed their roles going forward and these can be found o our website on the Who We Are page.
How does this affect the resources of both districts?
Both districts have a wealth of resources to support local Scouting; from IT solutions like OSM provided for groups or a campsite to host activities through to our amazing volunteers who support local Scouting. Once we set up the working group, they’ll be the ones to sort out the logistical arrangements so we can continue to use what we have to benefit all the Scouts in our patch.