Dear parents and carers

What a week that was! Three out of the four sections back together in action. For the first time since March, all sections had some form of activity in the same week. A few very excited, but very exhausted leaders and the consensus that it’s GOOD TO BE BACK! Thank you to all the young people and parents for sticking to our new code of conduct – you’ve all been brilliant and helped keep each other safe. Hopefully everything will now continue and will only get better.

I know that some sections are tweaking plans to hopefully enable more young people to join in more regularly and will let you know details in due course. We’re also grateful for everyone’s patience with OSM/Parent Portal as we bend the system to work in a way it was never really designed for (although is more than capable of – the sign we’ve invested in the right thing) and allowing the leaders the time to learn how to do it. Also with the sudden drop in temperature, sections that were planning to meet outside will be looking to move indoors a little sooner than they planned! Again, they’ll let you at the right time through Parent Portal.

My planning, and that of the Group Executive, has started to move on to February next year. We have to pay an annual membership fee to UKHQ to be registered as Scouts for every member around February/March. The 2021 fee has increased by £7.50 per member, making it around £53 per member (we don’t yet know the exact figure as the District and County element of the charge may still change). Ordinarily, and as in every other year, this would be come from our own annual membership fee we charge you all of £132 per year without any issue (especially as we’ve made cost savings at the Group paramount over the past few years in an effort to avoid raising our subs). Since lockdown began, the Executive have held subs at the half rate and this will continue into October as previously said. We’ll be discussing November onwards at a meeting in a few weeks’ time. The biggest help to us at the moment would be for any outstanding subs payments to be brought up to date. You can check this in Parent Portal – login and click Payments (it will show what’s outstanding and what’s due in the next year). If you no longer wish to keep your place in Scouting, please let me know by reply so I can remove your record and I can stop hassling you with these weekly emails. This will also help us with our excessively long waiting list as we will know exactly how many places we have to offer others.

While we’re talking of new members’ requests, the other day we had an incredible number of get-involved enquiries in the same day – the most we’ve ever seen – and the notifications kept pinging in. On chatting to one of them, it turns out we come highly recommended by our existing members, so thank you for all those of you that ‘big us up’! We really love it and it’s great feedback to hear that what we do is appreciated.

One last little request from me this week. Please, please double check your personal/contact information in Parent Portal. I’ve spent more time in OSM in the last few weeks than I think I have ever spent since we bought it in 2013 and keep finding issues with missing information – especially phone numbers in Contact 1. The other issue is the Emergency Contact box – please check this and make sure it is someone else other than Contact 1 or Contact 2 repeated. We always try to contact responsible adults in that order – Contact 1 -> Contact 2 -> Emergency Contact, so if we have need to use the emergency contact, we’ll already have tried and failed with the other two so repeating them in the Emergency Contact box won’t help. Thanks for your assistance with this.

Scout section parents, when you log in you will now find another box called member information. This is in preparation for the section using the new ‘Chats’ function. For the moment, please leave it blank as we’ll be writing to you all separately. Whatever you do, don’t enter your email address in this box as it will restrict what you can do on Parent Portal!

Finally from me, thank you for everything you are all doing to keep Scouting going. Without your support this would never have worked.

Have a fun and safe week.

Best wishes

Craig

Group Scout Leader

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04/01/2021: We remain at RED level, so still no face to face Scouting. Please visit our Getting everyone back together safely page for more details.
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