Friday, 22 March 2019

Awards for All?

Guiding has always had a system of awards to present to it’s membership.  Awards for long service, for gallantry, for fortitude, and for ‘good service’.  The first is awarded to adults automatically regardless of what type of role(s) have been held.  The next two categories are nowadays only for youth members, and the last of these categories, whilst notionally available to all Leaders, is in reality only ever awarded to Leaders who have taken on roles at County, Country/Region, National or International level.  Not to those who have only served at Unit Level.

In addition there is a piecemeal selection of local awards in different parts of the country.  These can be at County or at Country/Region level.  Some are open to nominations, others are in the personal gift of the appropriate Commissioner.  Some are aimed at grassroots Leaders, most at those who have taken on roles at County or Country/Region level.  But some localities are covered by more than one local award, whereas other areas have none.  And some awards are given out more frequently than others. 

I do not want to knock those who have gained awards.  I can think of a large number of instances where awards were indeed well deserved.  But I would question the fact that so many awards do not recognise the efforts of those Leaders who, year by year, provide ‘Good Guiding’ in the units.  Many Leaders and volunteers work away quietly, many are the backbone of Guiding.  But the awards structure as it currently stands - does not serve them.

So I would suggest that two steps are needed.

1) Create a parallel set of awards to the existing ones which are awarded for ‘higher level’ service, with the new ones designed to specifically recognise Unit Leaders and volunteers, and their grassroots work in local communities.

2) Each Commissioner, at some point in her term of office, should be expected to nominate someone (or more than one person if she wishes) in her area for an award.  The nomination would naturally have to be considered at a higher level as at present, and there would be no guarantee that nomination would result in an award being given, but it would mean Commissioners being required to consider the Leaders and volunteers in their patch, and consider whether, actually, there is quiet, significant achievement which is going unrecognised.

I wouldn’t want quotas.  Or a set date when each Commissioner nominates, with people waiting to see ‘who will get this time’ and being disappointed if this year no award is made.  And I wouldn’t want Commissioners to have to nominate someone every year whether there is an outstanding candidate to put forward or just a good one (‘Buggins’ turn’).  But in our rush to focus on the recruitment half of ‘recruitment and retention’, and given that the average length of service for a Leader in the UK is only 2 years – we need to value the Leaders we have who give more than two years, who consistently go above and beyond at a local level, provide the continuity in our units and form the backbone of our Districts – and show them that they are valued, and awards aren’t just for the ‘high heid yins’.

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