Shaping the future together

Shaping the future together

Spring 2023

In Spring 2022 we asked leaders to complete our first-ever Company Census.

As we emerge from an incredibly challenging last few years, we wanted to understand what is happening in Companies across the country; what is working and what is not; what the challenges are but also the opportunities that exist. 

We wanted to establish a clear picture of where The Boys’ Brigade is today that will help shape the support and resources provided for leaders. 

Of course, we know that on topics of any significance there will be a wide range of views. You’ll find a spectrum of opinions within Companies, Battalions, Districts, Regions and so on. 

This was however a census rather than a survey, so the questions were generally more factual in nature rather than asking for opinions. Over 120 questions were included, grouped into categories including programme, development/health, Church partnerships, community relations, finance and support provided to Companies. 

Whether you agree with every decision the Brigade makes, we are striving to be a data driven, evidence-based organisation – led and directed by the needs of leaders and Companies.

It was encouraging that over 800 Companies took part in the Census, representing nearly three-quarters of all Companies, providing a fairly strong representation from across the organisation.

It was important that the information collected through the Census was independently analysed to provide us with a genuine sense check against our Strategic Plan – to ensure that the aims and ambitions of our current five-year strategy are still the right ones, and to learn what we can build upon and what we might do differently.

To view the full independent report visit:

Our Company Health Check is a quick and easy tool which is designed to help leaders think about their Company’s strengths and areas for development, and to assist in setting goals for the Company.

Find the Company Health Check at:


90% of Companies report that new programme resources have had a positive impact on planning, delivery and quality of their activities.

65% of Companies offer a trip/outing at least once per session. The biggest barrier to residentials taking place is lack of leader availability.

Most leaders regularly meet as a team for planning – 59% at least once per term. Positively, 75% of Companies involve children and young people in their programme planning.

Our Programme Hub contains all of our termly Activity Cards, a range of Activity Sheets as well as Programme Planners for each age group. You can pick and choose what works for your Company, and the resources can be adapted to suit your children and young people.

Visit the Programme Hub at:


The data from the Census suggests a lack of finance does not appear to be a major concern for most Companies. 

The Census did highlight that many Companies are providing financial support to their members, something that may become even more important given the current cost of living crisis.

For example, 60% of Companies offer financial assistance for purchase of uniform, while 45% offer support for residentials, trips and fees.

The data also showed that 75% of Companies receive money from grants or other fundraising efforts in their Church or community.

50% of Companies get involved in fundraising for charities either local, national or globally.

Church partnership

Company and partner Church is of fundamental importance.   

However, it probably comes as no surprise that these relationships vary widely. In some cases the relationship is strong and involvement is high, but in others it seems more limited.

There was a clear concern expressed in the Census about the health and future of the partner Church. Most Companies are partnered with Churches with average weekly attendances of 60 people and below. 

78% of Companies benefit from the input of a Chaplain – interestingly a lot more than are registered with BB Headquarters as Chaplains who we are able to keep in contact with.  

Only a small number of Companies say that the majority of their children and young people attend Church regularly. Whilst some may find this concerning, it is worth noting that for many children and young people the BB is therefore their only connection to or involvement with Church, highlighting the important role the BB can play in mission and outreach.

Is your Chaplain registered with us? If not, we would strongly encourage you to get them registered so we can keep them informed. We are aware that a number of Churches do not have a minister; in these circumstances someone else from your Church’s Leadership Team may be willing to act as Chaplain.

Download the Chaplain Registration Form at:

Being an active part of local communities

There are opportunities for Companies to get involved and become active parts of their local community. 38% of Companies describe their community visibility as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. 

Interestingly, the biggest barriers that Companies identify to them being more visible in their local communities are a negative perception of BB (44%) and being Church-based (46%).

Facebook is by far the most popular social media channel used by Companies.

Our Open To… Campaign includes a range of resources to support visibility, including recruitment leaflets/posters, social media graphics/videos, taster programmes, press release templates and more.

Check out the resources at:

Support for Companies 

In terms of the support provided to Companies there were a series of questions about Battalion/Districts, the largely volunteer-led support structure, as well as questions about the support provided by BBHQ. 

Battalions were widely valued by Companies and engagement with activities and services is high. However, around 40% of Companies believe that their Battalion could do more to support them, with a lack of effective young leaders networks noted as being disappointing. In general, Districts are less highly regarded with fewer services and often seen as unnecessary. 

Satisfaction levels with support provided by BBHQ is generally very high. 

Over 60% of Companies says that they make use of the BBHQ Support Team. There is also a fairly strong uptake of branding resources, the leaders Facebook group and webinars. OBM is generally regarded as having had positive impact on admin, although full use of OBM is patchy with full functionality used by few Companies.

The team at BBHQ are on hand to provide any support, guidance or advice that you or your Company might need.

0300 303 4454

What the Census tells us…

  • Opportunities for growth do exist, particularly in the Anchors and Juniors age groups.
  • The relative weakness of partner Churches is clearly a challenge for the future, but the data supports BB as a tool for mission and community engagement.
  • Our greatest challenge is leader recruitment.
  • Whilst there are some geographically based differences from the Census, none are particularly significant in the data.
  • There is evidence of progress against our five-year strategy and its focus on improving the consistency and quality of experience offered to children and young people. Organisational investment in our programme has been particularly welcomed by leaders. 

68% of Companies said that completing the Census had helped them reflect on where they are at, with many developing action plans as a result.

Shaping our plans

We have already spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the results of the Census as we have been working on our plans for the third year of the Strategic Plan, in which we will celebrate our 140th anniversary. Focuses will include:

  • Celebrating our volunteer leaders and leader recruitment
  • Roll out of Company Management Training
  • Supporting Chaplains
  • Young Leaders Network

We will also be sharing key information from the Census with Battalions, which we hope will be helpful in providing direction for the support they provide to their Companies. 

We are planning on conducting the Census again in 2025 and then every five years to help to continue to shape the Brigade’s plans.

Jonathan Eales, Natalie Whipday and John Sharp
Senior Management Team