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STRONGER. SAFER. TOGETHER.

Thursday 13th August 2020

It was anticipated that we would be using this issue to announce our new strategic plan for the next 5 years, but instead we are focusing very much on how and when we can emerge from the enforced shutdown. No one could have envisaged the position we have all found ourselves in over the last 6 months, and our priority now and over the coming months is how we can return being stronger, safer and ultimately be together.

Like many of you I have spent a long time thinking about how to sum up what we have collectively and individually experienced and I kept coming back to our Boys’ Brigade values of faith, caring, inspiring and trusting. For me these four values have summed up perfectly our journey as an organisation since mid-March.

STRONGER

I am sure that there have been times over recent months that all of us have found our faith being tested. Not necessarily our Christian faith, although God would appear to have some explaining to do, but maybe our faith in others and even in ourselves. Yet keeping that faith is ultimately what has brought us through and what will see us emerge even stronger.

Some of the stories we have seen of community spirit and the sheer scale and outpouring of support for our neighbours, our key workers and our most vulnerable has been special and is something we need to work hard to continue. I don’t know about you, but that very first clap for carers really made me feel proud and somewhat emotional.

Perhaps the most inspiring part of the lockdown for me is being continually amazed by the sheer creativity and innovation of our members, be it our children and young people, or our volunteer leaders. Lockdown has forced us to engage in different ways and we must strive to maintain the sharing of programmes and good practice we have seen on the numerous webinars and social media platforms.

Well done to all of you who have adapted and used the technology available to continue to interact and support our young people and their parents. We have received some incredible feedback on the innovative approaches groups have been taking and how this has further strengthened relationships with families.

Our #BBatHome programme is recognised for its quality, format and sheer quantity within the uniformed youth sector and has been universally well received. We have had so many members and non-members engage with the programme and the feedback from parents has been unanimously positive.

I was not really aware of what the BB offered, until the resources were shared by a friend and they are outstanding! It has really made us think about what I will encourage my son and daughter to engage with once we are back to some kind of normal

Parent/Carer (non-member)

#BBatHOME has opened new avenues showcasing what we have to offer even in the most difficult of times. We must build on this and our willingness to adapt to deliver our mission and to build our relationships with members. A key part of any Company is the quality of the programme which will attract members. However, the relationship and friendships formed will be what retains the children and young people over a longer period of time.

Leaders have also had to trust HQ as we have had to make some very difficult decisions, some outside of our control which is never easy. I know when we made an early call to stop face-to-face activities this was worrying for all, as it was when we made the decision to not reopen until September. I know so many of you are worried about children and young people returning following such a lengthy period of absence, but I truly trust in our programme and the strong relationships we have with our members, that we can come out of this stronger.

SAFER

Within the coming months it is extremely important that we put plans in place to ensure we can operate safely. We are all desperate for the return of our young people and elsewhere in this Gazette we set-out our framework on how we plan to emerge from this crisis and ultimately return to our face-to-face activities.

But whilst we may seek to return as quickly as possible, we need to only do so once we have put everything in place, much of the planning will be to make sure we are what we are calling ‘Covid- Ready’. This means that you have done everything you need to as leaders in preparation to restart the Company safely – with risk assessments, a new look programme and other safeguards in place to ensure we can come back together safely.

In this issue we have also shared details of where you can access the guidance which is ever-changing and I would strongly advise you try to keep abreast of the latest developments – the best place to do this is on our website (see boys-brigade.org.uk/ coronavirus-update/)

The term ‘the new normal’ is one that is being used across all walks of life at the moment and it is true that even when we do return, we won’t be able to do things in exactly the same way
as we did before. However, why does the ‘new normal’ need to be something scary? For me this is an exciting opportunity for us to really thrive and create a movement which takes the best of pre and post lockdown and where the ‘new normal’ is something better?

TOGETHER

The Boys’ Brigade is, and always has been, about us being together and building relationships. We might not have been physically together for what feels like a very long time but spiritually we have never been closer. As the time approaches, let’s all work collectively to make sure our offer to young people is an exciting and irresistible one.

Of course, parents and carers are going to be nervous about sending their children back and of course children may be very different than we remember them when we return – this has been very tough on them with all routine ripped from underneath them. But, this is where our personal relationships with parents and young people will really come into play.

We need to reassure and support. We need to operate safely, but not clinically. We need to give the new normal, time and learn from every experience.

I am not going to pretend that this is going to be easy, it isn’t. But it will be worthwhile. Now more than ever our young people and their families need us.

Remember that the staff team is here to provide support to all of you; we know that you too may be feeling apprehensive and nervous. Please be reassured that the health and wellbeing of you and your young people is our utmost priority and everything we have put in place has been done so with this in mind.

I will leave you with this thought…what if our new normal turns out to be so much better than our old one?

Natalie Whipday
Director for England & Wales

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