wanna put something out there...... submit you blogs/words/thoughts directly to Rob Vaines, and he will post them for you
Author: Rob Sharratt | Date: 7th July 2017
Pride in London 2017 - Less that 24 Hours to Go!
So here we go, with less than 24 hours, the project team are counting the minutes until we meet everyone for the Morning Meeting at The University of Westminster.
We are really pleased to announce that we have 10 Young People joining us and over 100 Adult members from across the country.
Don't forget to bring your sun lotion and lots of water as it's predicted to be a hot one!
See you at the event,
FLAGS and Pride in London Project Team
Author: Rob Sharratt | Date: 7th July 2017
Gilwell 24 is Here!
The FLAGS Team are now checked into Gilwell Park and are setting up ready for Gilwell 24 2017!
The cafe is starting to come together nicely and we'll be ready for a start at 9am on Saturday morning.
We hope to see as many of you as possible at our Rainbow Mocktail bar where you can have a Berry Bliss or a Dark Invader, or buy some FLAGS merchandise.
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 2nd August 2015
By Ian from 3rd Hove
“On Saturday 1st August, if you were in Brighton, you couldn't help notice something was afoot. Thousands of people had gathered to take part in, watch and support the 25th LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) Pride parade and festival.
19 adult members of the Scout Association from the Southeast and further afield, including District and County Commissioners, beaver, cub, scout and explorer leaders, and members of FLAGS (Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Scouts) gathered at an ungodly hour of the morning to prepare for the festivities ahead.
The diversity message we carried was scouts are a diverse bunch and welcome LGBT members and leaders. This was given added poignancy by the announcement, with provisos, by the Boy Scouts of America, that adult leaders who identify as LGBT will be allowed to carry on their work or join the organisation (led by Eagle Scouts - their equivalent of Queen Scouts - who found that they couldn't continue as adult members and gain leadership roles if they identified as LGBT - and were effectively "fired" at 18 years-old).
25 years after Brighton's first Pride march, the political message may have waned somewhat, but the re-routing of the march away from a perceived bomb threat, and seeing the Royal Ordnance Corps Bomb Disposal Unit going in the opposite direction to the parade at the start to explode a suspect package, reminds me that there are people who are so violently opposed to the various messages of LGBT Pride, that they might consider it a target, along with the public thronging the streets.
Along with help from a very friendly drag queen, whose unexpected help in rabble-rousing was unparalleled, the 19-strong contingent had a strong reception from the crowds along the 2 mile route. Present and former scouts were in evidence, and many said hello. We were upstaged by a troupe of acrobats in monkey costumes that we had the good or bad fortune to be next to - but I suppose that is par for the course.
Why take part in a parade like Pride as scouts? What does this achieve? Well, it shows the world that we are here and we support the values of acceptance and tolerance that Pride stands for. It shows that there are LGBT or LGBT-friendly (I must say I didn't enquire of everyone!) members of the organisation who don't mind showing their faces at an event like Pride. I suppose for people like me and some others present, it is because I was a gay youth member, and found great comfort from newspaper and TV reports of positive role models growing up (I think the Independent and Channel 4 were particularly good when I grew up). I would like to think that all 19 marchers/paraders were good role models that day.
More "Oggy oggy oggies" than I can remember, with audience participation, slight sunburn, a hoarse voice and one of those frozen grins that you get when you pose for too many wedding photographs, were my abiding memories of a very interesting and enjoyable day.”
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 12th July 2015
By Scott Ideson
It’s currently past one in the morning, and I’m sat in a bustling marquee in a field within walking distance of the M25 listening to the dulcet tones of L.M.F.A.O playing in the distance. I’ve been awake about 18 hours, and have at least seven hours until activities end. I’m at Gilwell24, of course!
There are over 4000 Explorers on site at Gilwell Park today taking part in the yearly action-packed fun-filled 24 hour extravaganza that is Gilwell24. Today activities included DJing sessions on a red double decker bus courtesy of Volvo, kiteboarding, firefighting, laser quest, scuba diving, amongst many, many others. Of course, tonight the activities continue – the disco being the favourite!
This weekend, FLAGS are attending Gilwell24 again - this time running our own activities within the Global Zone. Old favourites returned. Diversity Jenga and rainbow paracord woggles were as popular as ever. Although the woggles ended up being fluorescent pink – but shhhh, we won’t mention that!
New to our repertoire of activities was the Diversitree. Diversity. Tree. Get it? Please say you get it...? The Diversitree allowed us to consult youth members and find out their views and opinions on diversity and inclusion in Scouting. Explorers got the chance to write their ideas on post-it notes which were then stuck to our Diversitree. Questions asked included:
What makes you unique in Scouting?
What could your unit do to improve your Scouting experience?
Who is your Scouting hero?
Do you think Scouting is inclusive? And why?
We also set out some statements for the young people to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ (agree/disagree), surrounding how welcome they feel in Scouting for example. Some, of course, were less serious than others! Beyoncé or Bieber?
As a member of FLAGS, it was terrific to see young people in our movement’s passion for equality and inclusion and how much they embrace diversity in Scouting and in their lives more widely. Scouting is more diverse in its membership than ever before and it’s humbling to see we’re as equally as accepting. The mostly positive comments from the weekend demonstrate that we have a movement to be proud of, but there is still some way to go to ensure that our youth members feel equally as welcome in their groups, districts and counties as the friends they’ve made from across the country at Gilwell24 this weekend.
P.S. FLAGS is also now on Instagram! Be sure to follow us on @flagscouts where you can find some fantastic photos from our activities from throughout the weekend at Gilwell24!
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 27th June 2015
Wow, What an Incredible Day !!!
I wanted to start with a huge thank you, before telling you about this incredible event. Our celebrations wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the hard work for the project team in the run up to the event. I'd like to take time to say thank you to Laura and the rest of the team for their dedication and commitment. I'd also like to thank all our speakers, wheel stewards, Stilt Walkers and those who supported the breakfast.
The day started off with an amazing welcome from all the project team, and some great talks by some of volunteers. This included a welcome from Dean Jeffreys, Regional Commissioner for London, as well as a great talk from our Jagz Barth, our Deputy Youth Commissioner, telling us why inclusion is so important to The Scout Association.
The morning continued with a chance to get to know other volunteer, and take part in some great activities which helped to demonstrate the diversity of The Scout Association. Volunteers were able to share their experiences with others, as well as tell us more about their experience of The Scout Association as an LGBT Adult. We were also pleased to be joined by Scout Radio, you can here some of their interview here.
As we moved on to the parade, we were joined by more volunteers, and young people and ended with over 120 people taking part in the latest celebration of diversity in the UK. This year, we were pleased to be positioned at number ten in the parade, being one of the first groups with a float in the parade. Once again this year we were pleased to be supported by National Express with their Scout branded Coach. This year, we were also joined by the fabulous stilt walkers, which helped us look amazing !!!
During the parade we were also pleased to be joined by a number of the senior volunteer team, including Tim Kidd, Debbie Bainbridge, Kester Sharpe, Alex Peace-Gadsby and Dan Wood. This is the first year a number of these had attended and they were impressed not only buy the turn out, but also by the excellent reception by the by-standers.
As the parade came to an end, I haven't felt so proud to stand with a group of volunteers and celebrate the diversity of The Scout Association. We have come so far in the last five years, and I want to thank all those who have helped us get there. Its been a long journey, but now i feel we can truly say we are one of the best groups at Pride in London, and continue to show everyone that Scouting is for everyone !!!
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 13th June 2015
So, over the last few weeks, I've spent a lot of time ensuring we are ready for pride events across the UK. It was great to see so many members of FLAGS at Birmingham Pride, it was most certainly our best attendance to date. Id like to say a massive thanks to Russell for his hard work in ensuring the event was a success. We will be adding some pictures from the parade to our website shortly. We are now in the final countdown to Edinburgh and London. Don't forget there is still time to sign up to be involved in London. You can find out about all our pride events for this year on our website.
We also started off this month celebrating National Volunteers Week, we have over 100 volunteers who support FLAGS and help us to demonstrate to people across the UK. Id like to take another opportunity to say THANK YOU to all the amazing volunteers who support help make FLAGS possible.
Last weekend, I was pleased to attend a LGBT Round Table with representatives across Europe. The purpose of the round table was to develop training for other Associations around Europe. It was a great opportunity for me to share our experience of support LGBT members, as well as sharing some of the actions we have taken over the last few year to promote inclusion in Scouting. I was able to make some great contacts from across Europe, as well as take some great ideas about how we can engage more LGBT people in Scouting. The outcomes of the round table will be seen in November at a training event, where we hope to be able to share more of our experiences.
Coming up this month we have our first team meeting of year, where we will be discussing our progress against our service agreement, as well as checking in on finances and membership.
Just a quick reminder for members to pay their membership fees by the end of this month.
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 29th May 2015
I started my journey in Scouting back in 1996 as a Cub, when I was just a mere 8 years old. I struggled a little to start with, but within a few months I was striving! Once I had finished Cubs my family moved home, so I moved to a Scout Troop closer to our new home. I knew A LOT of members through school, other clubs and drama groups etc.
After these years in Scouts, I was approached by the District to see whether I would like to join this brand spanking new section called "Explorer Scouts" and I became one of the first members of "Nomad Explorer Scout Unit".
I realised I was gay at an early (ish) age, around 12 years old. I officially came out to my parents at the age of 16, but what’s this got to do with Scouting I hear you say? Well just before I came out to my family, I had a few months of ups and downs and finally confided in my Explorer Scout leader for someone to rely on and a be a role model to me.
I then started as a Young Leader at my current Scout Troop and I was taken in with open arms. After a year of being a Young Leader, I came out to my Scout Leader (now Group Scout Leader) and again was accepted by her. This open minded way of life was VERY overwhelming for me and now at 26 years old no one batters an eyelid...this is how it should be!!
I can't thank the people in my Scouting journey enough: Dave, Phil, Debbie, Arthur, Heidi, Clare, Peter … THANK YOU XX
I Found out about FLAGS 3 years ago when I joined them at London Pride and I have never looked back since!! I’ve now met my life long partner Joe through an event last year, now 10 months down the line we are living together and ready to spend our lives together!
If I have learnt anything in Scouting, it is that it’s an OPEN and DIVERSE organisation, to be me and believe in myself.
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 20th May 2015
Welcome to my monthly blog, which this time I'll try and keep short and sweet !!!
This month I've been focusing on the run up to pride season, as well as membership renewal, and our events calendar. I've also got some exciting news from our international friends.
So, the first key activity of this month was our team meeting, this is a chance for me to find out what's going on around the team, and where the teams focus has been. The main focus of this call was to discuss our budget for the coming year, as well as agreeing our events. You'll be pleased to hear we have a breakeven budget planned for the next year, and we plan to share this with you in the coming weeks. We are also in the process of finalising our financial statements for last year. We're share both of these documents with you shortly.
This month we also had a chance to chat about the plans for our events in the next couple of years. We already have a number of events planned in, and are also looking adding new events including socials, and a focus on Scotland and Wales. We're currently looking for new adult events to attend to promote #scouting4all, if you know any events then please do let Sarah know. More details in the next newsletter.
This month we are completing the membership renewal process, if you haven't yet completed thee membership renewal form then please check out our last membership newsletter. If your not a member of the unit yet, and your eligible then please do join up today by completing an adult information form and return to Dan.
I wanted to update you on our international work, this month I'm in the process of planning my attendance at the WOSM LGBT round table. I have now had to chat with the team about some of the barriers and challenges we face in ensuring LGBT members are represented throughout the association. This will be an exciting event at the beginning of June which I'll tell you about afterwards.
Lastly, I wanted to share with you some exciting news from our friends in Victoria, Australia. Following several conversations their state council have now agreed they can set up a network like flags, and have taken the first step forwards to promoting LGBT equality in scouting. Check out their poster and read what Scott had to say to us last week.
"Our Victorian State Leadership Team have endorsed a poster to be created to show that Scouts Victoria endorses supporting IDAHOT this Sunday AND we form the Rainbow Scouts Network for GLBTI youth/leaders and their supporters. It's a massive step forward and the final green light to move forward.
...and because Victoria and New South Wales are the biggest states and almost always lead by example and initiative, we could well influence Scouts Australia following our lead" - Scotty Harrison.
Well I'm now in the process of packing for an exciting weekend at Birmingham pride, so looking forward to seeing many of you there !!!
Yours in scouting,
Author: Mike Preston | Date: 3rd May 2015
The FLAGS events team has been busily coordinating and planning for the West Yorkshire Big Camp 2015 for the last month. All the work in planning activities and organising with the camp team culminated today in the first of two days at the camp. A team of 6 FLAGS members have been onsite today to run the activities on “The Street” promoting inclusion and diversity within the movement with the activities set to continue for another day.
Our activities focused on using fun games and activities to promote a message of inclusion, which were well received and enjoyed by all that took part (young people and leaders alike). Activities included paracord woggles in bright pink and rainbow (a range of the other colour combinations were available), diversity wordsearches containing diversity orientated words, diversity Jenga and Pick-up-Sticks. Photos of some of the activities and woggles are on the Facebook pages. At one point we had a queue of about 20 people all desperate to get a new woggle to wear.
Our location shared a tent with the Value Tree – an activity where leaves on the tree were filled in with messages promoting values that members shared and it was excellent to see inclusion and diversity featuring as part of the words written by young members of the movement.
To top it all we have once again built relationships, this time with members of our West Yorkshire scouting family, which hopefully will extend for many years to come. A big thanks to Marcus Coulson, Andy Cole, Owen Wallace-Williams, Andrew Mitchell and Joanne Mitchell for working on our activities today, especially in the cold and rain.
Yours in scouting,