Scout groups in the north-east have issued a call for help after numbers plummeted during the pandemic.
The last time Scouts suffered such a drop in numbers was at the outbreak of the Second World War.
The pressures of the pandemic have led to a decrease in youth membership across the north-east by 22% over the past year, falling from 4,968 last year to 3,871 now.
Adult volunteer numbers in the region are also down from 1,750 to 1,466.
The last time the organisation was this badly affected was the period 1938 to 1941. Adult volunteers joined up to take part in the war effort and youth membership plummeted.
‘Pressures and disruptions to life’
A spokesman for North East Scotland Scouts said: “These numbers are an indicator of how the pressures and disruptions to life over the past year mean not all youth members have been able to continue.
“This is especially the case in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”
North East Scotland Scouts have launched a campaign to recruit new volunteers as the country opens up after lockdown.
Following a year of Zoom meetings, and virtual camps, face-to-face meetings of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts resumed in March, though restrictions remain and some groups are meeting outdoors only.
The Scout Group’s regional commissioner for the north-east, Dougie Simmers, said Scouts can really make a difference.
He said: “Young people have lost out on so much in the past year, and our membership numbers show how many were unable to continue with Scouts due to lockdown.
“The good news is they are coming back in droves, but we need more people to help us ensure young people can meet friends, have fun and fulfil their potential by learning skills for life.
“Scouts can really make a positive difference to young people’s wellbeing and help them gain skills they never knew they could.”
According to a study by the University of Edinburgh, people are 15% less likely to suffer from anxiety if they’ve been a Scout or Guide.
Over the next six months, Scouts will be running a series of locally-focused recruitment campaigns across the UK. The campaign will encourage young people and adults who drifted away during the pandemic to re-join, and to create new Scout groups in areas of greatest need.
The campaign will have an emphasis on why volunteering is good for your health, happiness, skill development and family life.
Bear Grylls: ‘Incredible contribution’
Chief Scout, Bear Grylls, said: “The past year has been so tough for so many.
“And it’s also shown just how important it is for us to work together to help those in need.
“Scouts plays a fundamental role in the lives of thousands of young people. Our goal is to build back our membership by welcoming thousands of new volunteers across the movement.
“As an adult volunteer you can help us continue to make an incredible contribution towards helping young people learn new skills for life.
“You’ll gain some great new skills, new friends and be part of empowering young people to be prepared for their future.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Scouts should visit www.scouts.org.uk/volunteer.