Hundreds of Scout groups facing closure without further financial support

More than 500 Scout groups in some of the poorest parts of England are at risk of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scout Association said the groups were facing “severe financial difficulty” and a “bleak” future as social-distancing rules had left them unable to raise money through their usual methods.

Many of the affected groups are located in deprived inner city areas where young people “most need support”, the association said.

Conservative Party Conference 2017
Conservative Party Conference 2017

It has now launched a major fundraising campaign to try and save those most at risk, with a virtual race around the world.

The event challenges Scouts to travel 172,000 miles collectively in their local areas.

Some 7,300 Scout groups across the UK have joined the effort so far in a bid to raise £300,000.

The 1st Xscape Scout Group, which serves the communities of Pontefract and Castleford in West Yorkshire, is one of more than 500 that requires further support.

The group usually raises extra funds through jumble sales, quiz nights and car washes – but has been unable to do so due to the pandemic.

Scout groups in areas including Birkenhead, Wolverhampton, Norfolk, Greater Manchester, Greater London, East Sussex, the Isle of Wight, Kent and Shropshire are also at risk of closure, the association said.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls, said: “As Scouts we always support each other – and in today’s tough climate, where we all need inspiration and community, we are taking part all together in our Race Round the World.

“Scouting plays a fundamental role in the lives of thousands of young people, giving them skills and hope for the future.

“That is now more vital than ever. I am so proud of those doing their mile in support of those hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The association said the majority of its Scout groups were now “back up and running”.