Celebrating our leaders

Celebrating our leaders

Autumn 2023
Sam Templeton

Leader at 1st Largs and a Brigade Trustee

I remember being invited by a friend at school to come along to BB and give it a try. From there, going through the Company, I always looked forward to a Friday night to meet friends, have fun and learn new things, working towards and eventually gaining my Queen’s Badge.

Then came the point where most of my friends left the Company. I didn’t feel ready to leave, and inspired by the leaders that had encouraged me, I wanted to become a leader and support others.

The most important part of our amazing organisation is the children and young people we work with, however the experience they have – the activities, the learning, the fun – that make them come back week after week is down to our volunteer leaders.

We are so thankful for the faithful service of our BB leaders who teach and nurture our three children week by week. Their hard work, enthusiasm and care for all of the children and young people is so appreciated!

Jayne, Parent/Carer, 1st Ballycraigy

Being a volunteer

Over the last ten years the Government has published an annual survey reporting on trends in volunteering. This shows the challenge that we are well aware of within BB and was highlighted in the Company Census last year as probably our greatest challenge – volunteer leader recruitment.

The numbers of people taking part in ongoing formal volunteering has been falling for many years with the most common barriers to formal volunteering being described as:

There has been a lot of focus this year on volunteering and serving others. The Big Help Out, which took place on the Bank Holiday Monday after the King’s Coronation, was aimed at encouraging more people to volunteer within their local community, and an estimated 6 million people took part on the day. Of course being a BB volunteer leader isn’t just about making a one day a year commitment, is it?

I’d like to thank all the leaders who go to great lengths to make sure the children and young people enjoy their time at BB. All the events they organise are great fun. Keep up the great work, we appreciate everything you do.

Marie, Parent/Carer, 1st Tewkesbury

Why be a BB leader

Every BB leader will of course have their own motivations and drivers for doing what they do. But I’ve been thinking about what makes me volunteer within BB.

1. Sense of reward

There is a huge sense of reward and satisfaction at being involved in making a difference in other peoples’ lives. This might sound very grandiose, but even the simplest reward of seeing young people leaving with a smile on their face at the end of the night for me means I know that it’s been worthwhile.

2. Supporting your community

As a BB volunteer we are working directly with children and young people, but what we do also have a positive impact on families, the Church and the wider community. Volunteering for me is about understanding that we are part of something beyond just ourselves and it is an investment in our community.

3. Brings like-minded people together

Obviously each leader is different, but we do all share something otherwise we wouldn’t do what do. It’s perhaps an old-fashioned word but there is that sense of fellowship. From Companies, Battalions/Districts to being involved nationally, people with a range of backgrounds and skills come together. Through volunteering I have had some amazing experiences that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else and friends that I wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for The Boys’ Brigade.

4. Personal development

I feel I am always learning and growing through my involvement in my Company. Over the last nine months I have also been part of the Brigade Executive as an under 26 Trustee. I’ve been part of some incredibly challenging discussions and decisions that impact our whole organisation. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but I have learnt and am learning so much.

5. Health and wellbeing

I work at a secondary school and work is really busy. However, I know and understand the benefits for me of having another focus in my life, outwith being a teacher, that brings me happiness.

So perhaps the questions should be turned on its head… why not be a BB leader?

Thanking and celebrating our leaders

Could we as an organisation be better and do more in terms of thanking and celebrating the contribution our leaders make? Yes.

Every year we celebrate Volunteers’ Week, which takes place from 1st – 7th June. But over the last 18 months we have also been trying to share on a more ongoing basis the stories of some of our leaders and what they do.

Our Long Service Awards currently recognise voluntary service of 15, 20 and 30 years within the Brigade. As part of our 140th anniversary celebrations later this year we plan on launching a new Leaders Award scheme, to annually celebrate the contribution leaders make across the country – watch out for more information being shared in October.

Of course we can also never underestimate the importance of just hearing the words – “thank you”.

Thank you to all the amazing leaders at BB. The dedication and commitment you have to this groups is phenomenal… every one of you goes above and beyond, nothing is a chore and the enthusiasm shines through. You are fabulous role models for our children!”

Amanda, Parent/Carer, 1st Irvine

We do need to recruit new volunteer leaders to continue supporting the young people we do but also as we seek to grow the number of young people who are part of the BB family, and this is an important part of our plans over next two years.

I think we also need to continue to adapt to do how we do things and see things as leaders.
The Company Management Training that was launched at the end of last year was designed in recognition that the role of a Company Captain can be incredibly demanding, and encouraging a more a shared responsibility for the management of the Company.

I still remember hearing on my KGVI course the story of one Company which had closed because of a lack of leaders, but had for years turned away those interested in becoming leaders. Perhaps it’s not always as simple as saying there aren’t the volunteers interesting in joining our Companies?

We will continue to highlight the crucial role that volunteers have played and continue to do so in the life of the organisation over the past 140 years. The organisation only continues to do what it does because of the volunteers.

Let me finish by saying thank you. How ever you volunteer within the Brigade, your time, energy, expertise, skills and the commitment you give is truly appreciated.