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Raise the Bar

Friday 3rd August 2018

Launching our new campaign for 2018-19

Definition:
1. Raise the standards of quality that are expected of or required for something

In 2018-19 we are setting out a challenge for us all to raise the bar and build on the quality of what we offer as an organisation. There is already so much we can be proud of, but can we do more? ‘Raise the Bar’ is the title of our new campaign for next session and is set around 10 challenges for each Company, focussed on raising the quality of experience for children and young people.

This challenge is all about asking the question ‘How can we do better?’ It’s about taking time to consider our approach to specific areas of our work, looking at what needs to change and setting targets to strive for.

Ten challenges have been put together which we believe are clear and realistic for each and every Company to tackle during the 2018-19 session. It’s not an exhaustive list, but we believe these are some of the essential building blocks.

Why this challenge?

Some Companies are growing, and it is good to be able to report that this session around 500 Companies have grown in number. However, the statistics show that even more Companies are in decline, and statistics show we have lost around 1200 members this session. Also, for the first time in many years we are noticing a decline in adult leaders too.

39% Companies growing

We are now coming towards the end of the 2013-18 Development Plan which had targets for Growth, Quality and Voice.  Although we have made good progress in many areas we have failed to see the overall increase in numbers that we had hoped to achieve. That said we have been successful in setting up more than 100 new Companies over the last 5 years, but the reality is that with issues of sustainability, Church mergers and closures; more Companies have closed than new ones have been opened.

Over the past few years a number of initiatives have been used to encourage growth and you may recall the 10% in 2012; Growing Bigger, Growing Better and One for All campaigns.  These campaigns have had some success in encouraging Companies to look at recruitment and there are good news stories of Companies that have increased in number, with some doubling or trebling their strength. Alongside these campaigns the Brigade has provided numerous resources including free recruitment materials.

Focussing on recruitment initiatives and the growth agenda has had some success, but our experience tells us that real and sustained growth will only be achieved through focussing on the quality of our work. We have heard lots of positive stories where through a Company reviewing what they do they have turned things around, from a position where they were struggling, to a position where they are reaching capacity or bursting over that. With this comes a huge sense of achievement and renewed enthusiasm.

“Later this year we will celebrate 135 years of working with children and young people – a wonderful milestone to have reached, and one which I am sure our founder would have been immensely proud of. We should celebrate the fact that we continue to have the opportunity to work with thousands of young people and be a part of their personal developmental journey.

We know the impact that we have on young lives – it is one of the constants I hear when I visit Companies - the stories of change that leaders describe with a smile. We are doing great work, but I do believe that we can be better and indeed as a whole organisation must do better.”

John Sharp, Director for Scotland

Company Health Checks and the Company Development Scheme are resources to support Company Development. They assist Companies in reviewing the quality of what they offer, but have they really been taken up and used? Has you Company used these resources?

We all know that we now face much more competition from other groups and from young people who are isolated and it is often difficult to attract members in an online age. Nevertheless, other youth organisations like the Scouts and Cadets are reporting overall increases in membership on a national level. If this is the case, surely where we are seeing a decline in numbers we need to be asking ourselves why this is? Why are we not able to retain members or see new members coming along when another youth group down the road is? Perhaps our instinct when numbers are low is to put some leaflets through doors or do a school assembly, but is that the real answer? Is it not more about looking at what we offer, how we go about it and what changes we need to make?

We need to push the boundaries in everything that we do to ensure that we are supporting and equipping our leaders to deliver the best possible youth and children’s work.

“The world is changing, the work we do is changing and we need adapt to enable us to remain the prominent Christian youth organisation of choice. The time is upon us to all raise our game at every level, whether it be at Company, Battalion, District, Regional or Brigade.”

Natalie Whipday, Director for England

Get Involved

This is an exciting initiative and we want to encourage every Company to get involved in Raise the Bar by taking on the 10 challenges during the 2018-19 session. It’s not necessarily about trying to tackle everything at once, but start out by looking at 2-3 and take it from there. It may be you have already done some of these or have made a start, it’s not a race or competition, but we would like everyone to think of it as a set of challenges to take on.

Raise the Bar: 10 Challenges

Our ten challenges for 2018-19 are:

1. Get together as a staff team – formally and socially come together to plan, to share and to celebrate. Consider how you involve your young people especially Seniors. What learning or training needs can you identify?

2. Set a target number per section – when did you last consider what your target numbers were? Consider realistic numbers based on your constraints (meeting space, volunteers, etc) and also whether you need to focus on specific age groups.

3. Being Welcoming – We’ve got one chance to impress, consider how you welcome new members and what you provide them and their parents/carers with to set expectations and provide all they need to know.

4. Programme Planning – Make sure you are planning at least a term ahead. Look to bring in new activities to your programme which will help towards ensuring attendance and a high-quality programme. Consider what skills you will need to make this possible.

To assist you with programme planning, Spring 2019 will see the launch of the new programmes for the Anchors and Juniors age groups. Programme Activity Cards will be delivered directly to the Leader in Charge of each age group and include a termly Programme Planner card to help you plan for the next term. More details will be announced shortly.

5. Engage with your Church – with a view to strengthening the partnership between the BB Company and the Church make opportunities for the congregation to join in with BB activities, whilst also looking at how the Company can engage with Church events. Consider how you share what you are doing through the Church newsletter, website, etc.

6. Engage with another BB Company or another youth org – look to others for support with things that you cannot achieve alone, this could be a camp or another activity.

7. Raise your profile in the Community – take the time to share what you are doing, through social and local media. Ensure that there is local awareness of the BB in the community.

8. Make more use of OBM – streamline your administration and make it easier for both leaders and parents/carers by maximising the use of OBM. Importantly this could free up time for leaders to focus on the programme and building relationships with children and young people.

9. Look at Fees – Consider value for money vs what it costs to run a Company. Have you looked at income and expenditure? What is reasonable to charge the children and young people? What additional resources do we need and how can we go about getting these?

“My son went along to BB for the first time the other week and I was a little taken back by the fees. Not that they were too expensive, but exactly the opposite, I expected to pay more. After enquiring about the fees, I was told they were £1 a week for his age group (6 years old). Wow I thought… as he came home not just having had an amazing time during the 75-minute session, but he had made a puppet, had a drink, a biscuit and there was an activity taking place at the weekend he could go along to and all I was expected to pay was £1 for that week. In comparison I am paying £6 a week for him to go football training and pay equivalent amounts (and more) for other activities. It is great that the cost is so low, but I think they should be charging more than this – it is worth a lot more!”

Anonymous Parent, Yorkshire

10. Take action to make a difference to others – Get your young people and leaders active in the local community through campaigning, fundraising and hands-on volunteering.

We will be sharing case studies and providing support and resources for each of the 10 challenges in future issues and online through the Raise the Bar page on the Leaders website.

So, having read the challenges we hope you feel ready to get involved in the campaign. Remember to be realistic about what you can achieve, set out to make positive changes based on the challenges and celebrate each and every achievement along the way.

Raise the Bar is not just about Companies, but there are also 10 challenges for Battalions and Districts (you can find the challenges on the Raise the Bar webpage) to encourage our local support networks to review the quality of what they offer. The Brigade will also be doing its part by providing resources and support to assist you in taking on the challenges through the Gazette, eBB news and website.

Good luck and remember we are all in this together and there to support each other, so please get in touch with other Companies, speak to Leaders in your Battalion/District and get in touch with Regional/UK & RoI Headquarters about the challenges we each face.

We would love to hear what you are getting up to and would encourage you to share your thoughts and stories on social media using #RaiseTheBarBB.

You can find out more about Raise the Bar along with supporting resources at leaders.boys-brigade.org.uk/raisethebar

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