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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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Open to…

Monday 26th July 2021

A unique opportunity

March 2020 saw the suspension of all our face-to-face BB activities, as Covid-19 began to reshape our lives. By the end of the same week that face-to-face activities came to a halt, #BBatHome had been launched as an alternative programme to use at home and many Companies were preparing to run virtual sessions.

In the most difficult circumstances, the BB stayed open – we adapted and most importantly we continued to provide children and young people with opportunities to learn, grow and discover, at at time when it has never more been needed.

#BBatHome has done so much for this family’s mental health during Lockdown. They’ve kept us laughing together, even on tough days. I can’t thank you enough.

#BBatHome Parents/Carers Survey 2020


What does our new session bring?

As we look towards our new 2021/22 session, what do you see? More challenges? Opportunities?

For some Companies the new session may be the first time they have been back together for some time, and the focus may be on just getting their members back.

There will also be opportunities too for growth, and we have already seen over the last few months that Companies restarting their face-to-face activities have welcomed along new members.

I believe the new session actually represents a unique moment, and a missional opportunity to shout about the BB and what we offer to children and young people.

The very kind of social contact, interaction and relationships which are great BB strengths, are what we have all been missing and have developed a new appreciation of how important it actually is in our lives.


What’s our message and who are we talking to?

The message that the BB is open to them… is a simple, straightforward and positive message to take forward with us into a new session.

Too often people ask – “Is the BB still on the go?”

We need to shift the story away from explaining that we exist, to opening peoples’ eyes to what we do and its value. The new session is an opportunity to engage, talk, promote, discuss, share, tweet, about what we have been doing and are doing. A good place to start is by telling people – “we’re open”.

The BB is open to… children and young people. We are open to our leaders and those interested in volunteering. We are open to parents/carers, including those who haven’t heard of the BB. We are open to our valued Church partners and we are open to the wider local communities of which each Company is part of. To advance Christ’s kingdom, to live out our vision, mission and values our doors must be open to everyone.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28: 19 – 20

Our vision is that children and young people experience ‘life to the full.’ – John 10:10


Open to… children and young people

It’s been such a challenging last year, particularly for children and young people whose lives have been turned upside down. We have missed our members and look forward to welcoming them back to our BB family.

It’s time to get back to spending time with friends, having fun, learning, growing and discovering.


Open to… parents/carers

Perhaps more than ever parents/carers will be thinking about extra- curricular opportunities for their children.

In 2021 we have an opportunity to tell them about the things that the BB has always been good at, but which take on even greater relevance, significance and value in our world today.

Tell parents/carers about the activities you’re doing but explain why you’re doing them – to develop those softer skills like confidence, resilience and team work.


Open to… Churches

As a Christian youth organisation we are a mission partner for Churches.

The BB can have a huge impact on Churches supporting their outreach and engagement within communities. As many Churches will be reflecting what they are doing and where they are going, it’s an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and re-affirm how the BB can be a bridge into the local community.


Open to… and part of the local community

The BB is a part of communities across the country. But is your community actually aware of what you do? More outdoor activities over recent months have probably helped in making us more visible to local communities. Has your Company thought about how you get involved with other community groups?

Doing things, such as getting involved in litter picks, supporting foodbanks is a great way of living out our BB’s values, but it is also a great way of being seen and heard within the community.


Open to being visible locally…

  • Advertise – are you able to have a banner outside your Church or put posters up in shops. Have you approached your local newspaper to see if they’ll highlight what you are doing?
  • Using social media to your advantage to engage with parents and wider online community.
  • Relationships with schools – not always easy, but there are lots of different ways to engage with local schools.
  • Using our vision, mission and values as tools to engage with your different audiences, to explain the who, what and why of the BB in an accessible way.


To be seen and heard – getting our message out

To support this unique opportunity that the new session presents we have developed new resources to support leaders to open their doors and work together with the audiences that together make a strong, sustainable and even growing Company.

Interestingly when we receive feedback from Companies that are growing they generally emphasise the importance of three main elements:

  • Running a good programme
  • Word of mouth recruitment from happy young people and their families
  • Being visible within the community

Of course we could do more to raise our profile nationally. Visibility is undoubtedly very important, but where is it important for your Company to be seen and heard?

One of the UK’s most well known business entrepreneurs once said that “Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

If young people, parents/carers, your church, your community are aware of what you are doing, of the value and impact of your work – this is surely the best kind of visibility we can have across the country.

As part of our Open To… campaign we have suggested what might appear a rather simple idea of holding an open night within the first 2 – 3 weeks of restarting. But the challenge isn’t just in setting up an open night, it’s about engaging with all those key audiences to make the open night as successful as possible in opening the doors of your Company (or perhaps it could even be an outdoors open night) to new young people.


What are you open to in the new session?

So how will you approach the new BB 2021/22 session? Are you open to the idea that this is a real opportunity to welcome new children and young people to the BB family?

Of course in welcoming new members through our doors we also need to remember that recruitment is just the first step. We then need to ensure they keep coming back and that they and their families become the best ambassadors for your Company.

John Sharp
Director for Development and Communications

Find out more about our Open To… campaign at boys-brigade.org.uk/open-to/

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  1. Tony Drury-Smith says:

    Some great ideas- we are now full but will be able to use some resources for possible new groups, in local churches, or schools etc and also for use for the Battalion.

  2. Tony Drury-Smith says:

    Some great ideas- we are now full but will be able to use some resources for possible new groups, in local churches, or schools etc and also for use for the Battalion.However, many of you photos show boys only, even the GA Companies- and whilst some of us work with other girls organisations we are mixed -a young peoples organisation.

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