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What have we learnt?

Tuesday 17th December 2019

A final report produced by Wren and Greyhound shares the key findings of the review with recommendations for the future.

Achievements from 2013-2018 plan

There have been some clear achievements from the last strategic plan (or ‘Development Plan’ as it was known) including sustaining the organisation’s passion and commitment; launching the new under-11’s programme; developing new training resources; introducing Online Brigade Manager (OBM) and delivering the Raise the Bar Campaign, which has been focused on raising the quality of experience for children and young people.

The recent focus on growth, quality and voice has begun to make a difference, but much more needs to be done.

Growth

With a 32% decline in the number of young people (19,000) across the country in the last 13 years, the membership situation is now critical. If this trend continues over the next 13 years to the movement’s 150th anniversary in 2033, numbers will be between 20,000-27,000 (currently 40,600 – as at 31st August 2019).

‘The situation is critical’

Change is needed, but views vary on whether it is possible to bring everyone along. Although there is an overall commitment to an inclusive approach, some people believe that some leaders or Companies could be left behind.

Quality

When it comes to quality, less than half of the respondents in the survey rated the quality of what Companies currently offer as ‘high’ or ‘very high’. However 88% of respondents believe that improving quality is key to the organisation’s future.

‘88% believe that improving quality is key to the organisation’s future’.

How do you rate the quality of what the brigade currently offers young people at company level?

In asking respondents about how to improve quality, they said:

Programme ideas and resources

  • Quality comes from leaders and Captains
  • The focus for improving quality should be on things that benefit leader
  • Making leaders’ jobs easier and saving them time

‘Easy to use programme material, i.e. a “grab and go” type of sessions’ (Survey)

Training

  • Companies and Battalions pooling resources
  • Refresher training for established leaders
  • Opportunities for learning and sharing

Regular training opportunities for leaders and forums to discuss programme ideas with other leaders.’ (Survey)

Support and/or visits

  • Clear desire for Battalions to support Companies through visits and practice sharing.

Companies need to see more involvement from Battalions / Districts. Battalions and Districts need to offer Companies and leaders more support and advice.‘ (Survey)

It was clear that leaders cherish their freedom and autonomy, but that there was a clear view that as an organisation we need to define and monitor common standards.

‘If we are to succeed and improve quality, there has got to be a standard that we can get to – a quality mark’

Voice

Growth and Quality are easy to understand. Voice was less clear, but just as important. Respondents said it helps to support:

  1. Relevance – ‘The BB belongs to our people between the age of 5 and 19, and if we aren’t listening to their voice, that is possibly where we are failing.
  2. Recruitment & Retention – ‘If we have young people going away extolling positive views of the programme, then that will prove worthwhile. Improving quality, in conjunction with telling people through the voice aspect.
  3. The next generation of leaders – The moment you get a role… you should be thinking “The moment you get a role…you should be thinking of who is going to replace you and you should be mentoring people to have the skills to take over.

Identity

It is clear that from almost all respondents that the organisations Object is what unites everyone, with 74% of respondents saying that the current vision “that children and young people experience life to the full” provides unity and inspiration for the future.

‘For me it is the first part of the object, ‘advancing Christ’s kingdom’. Whatever the programme looks like, that has to be the underlying principle. That needs to underpin what we do.’ Interview.

Structure

A further finding focuses on reviewing the structure of the organisation.

An overarching theme throughout the review is that members / leaders want to be supported, they want their role to be easier. Communication is imperative for any future plan. We have to ensure that there is ownership of the new strategic plan and more importantly a true awareness of such at all levels of the organisation. Without such ownership or awareness, delivery will only ever be on a minimal level and we will fall back into the same position as having a plan on paper which is only ever partly successful.

A common theme is that there are too many layers in the structure and a request is looking at ways to reduce the burden on captains and prevent the risk of information blockages.

Nearly two thirds of survey respondents (63%) believe the organisation’s structure needs to change. A suggestion is reviewing the role that District and Battalions play especially in England and how communication between different levels of the organisation can be facilitated.‘ Graham Reekie, Wren and Greyhound

‘The fundamental building block in the Brigade is the Company. What goes on in the Companies is key to the future of the Brigade.’ Focus Group Participant

‘You sometimes see the potential at grassroots but there is sometimes a bit of a disconnect – does the infrastructure of the Brigade actually help facilitate and enable that? If BB is to grow and develop, we have got to look at how the infrastructure enables Companies.’ Focus Group Participant

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