212016Apr

The importance of local community groups

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Michelle Donelan Column 21 April 2016 Scouts and Air Cadets

This week, I had the pleasure of joining the local Air Cadets to mark their 75th anniversary and I will also be joining a local scouts group to talk about politics, volunteering and the importance of the local community.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is when I am able to meet the young people who are involved with the Scouts and Cadets. There is a key endearing feature that the both groups possess – character.

For me, character is what really makes the difference when it comes to making a success of life. Organisations such as the Scouts and Cadets are two of our country’s greatest character factories. They help develop the soft skills that employers so desperately seek. Some forward-thinking schools have known this for years, which is why they make the time in the busy school day for citizenship classes and sport.

The Cadets and the Scouts help children and young adults reach their full potential, developing skills including teamwork, time management, leadership, initiative, planning, communication, self-motivation, cultural awareness and commitment. They help young people to get jobs, save lives and even change the world. They volunteer helping build community, support the vulnerable, fundraise for good causes and shape young, kind, robust young people. Where else would the next generation get such opportunities? It’s all about preparing young people for life and providing the skills they need to succeed in the modern world, while allowing them to have fun and socialise.

What is the best way to enthuse young people, give them opportunities to succeed and develop good character? Through great schools, rooted at the heart of their community giving the opportunity to try new things and through organisations like the cadets, the Scouts and the Government backed National Citizenship Service.

I have said before; I believe that we need to rethink the purpose of education. If we want the next generation to reach their potential, to be enterprising, entrepreneurial, innovative and aspirational, they can’t rely exclusively on pieces of paper alone. Teamwork, leadership, perseverance and good communication are all skills demanded by employers. These are the skills that will help them succeed and these are the skills cultured in community-led groups like the Scouts and Cadets.

I believe that the strength of a community transcends politics and is the bedrock of our country. Communities provide support to the individuals who are impacted by the daily stress, struggles and chaos of modern life.

When it comes to supporting the community and building character the father of the scouting movement, Lord Baden-Powell said it best, “It is of more value than any other attribute in life.”