Scout Job week is back

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Scout Job week is back

10 May 2012

Bob-a-Job week returns this week, two decades after the Scout Association scrapped it over health and safety concerns and the rise of compensation culture.

For generations of Scouts, it was a time for raising money by performing good deeds – until health and safety fears and the rise of compensation culture saw it scrapped.

Now, 20 years after the last one, Bob-a-Job week will this week be revived by the Scout Association, as leaders attempt to rebuild the movement’s traditional commitment to helping others.

The scheme, which starts on Saturday, will see more than 144,000 children take part in thousands of community projects across the UK.

The revamped scheme has been designed to comply with health and safety laws and to avoid the risk of compensation claims that saw its previous incarnation halted in 1992.

Then, unsupervised children, would knock on strangers’ doors to ask if they wanted jobs done. Now, the scouts will operate in groups while carrying out work and will be supervised all the time by their leaders.

And instead of washing neighbours’ cars or mowing their lawns, the new scheme will see groups work on larger tasks, designed to help the wider community.

Among the projects planned to take place next week are cleaning out a 1930s tidal swimming pool, on the Cornish coast at Bude; clearing woodland to help create a habitat for rare bees on the Isle of Wight; building bird tables at a home for dementia sufferers in Eastleigh, Hampshire; planting 1,000 new trees on the Orkney Islands; cleaning up the trans-Pennine cycle trail, in Derbyshire; creating a “fossil trail”, on the Jurassic coast, in Dorset; removing vegetation from an overgrown part of the Grand Union Canal, in Hertfordshire; and planting wild flowers along a new tram route in Greater Manchester.

Traditionally, Bob-a-Job week took place close to Easter, as a way to keep children busy during their school holidays.

As the new format relies more on adult participation, it is taking place during term time, with work carried out at weekends and during the evenings.

As before, the Scouts will collect donations and sponsorship for their good deeds.

A quarter of the money raised goes to the Scout Association’s central body, to be used to set up new groups.

The remainder stays with local groups.

However, many have already pledged their proceeds to local charities.

More than 2,500 scout groups are taking part – comprising 144,000 children and 36,000 adults. The association hopes that within three years, all of its 7,000 groups will take part.

Simon Carter, from the movement, said: “Bob-a-Job week is one of the things people like to remember about the scouts and since we stopped it, people have been saying we should do it again. Now, we think we have found a model that works. We have always been a community based organisation and this is really a case of back to basics.”

The revived scheme, officially known as Scout Community Week, is being sponsored by the retailer B&Q, which is providing some materials for some projects.

Bob-a-job week was first introduced as a good turn day in 1914 by scout movement founder Lord Baden-Powell.

In its previous format, officially known as Scout Job Week, it was started during Easter week 1949 and became an annual fixture.

The scheme got its nickname from shilling, colloquially ‘bob’, that the youngsters were paid for completing their good turn – which would now be worth 5p.