Creating safe spaces for young people in Scouting

As adult volunteers we have the privilege of bringing fun, challenge and adventure to the lives of over half a million Scouts. But we know that often, the young people we serve are facing their own challenges in their everyday lives.

It’s our responsibility, as adults in Scouting, to ensure that we are creating safe spaces for young people, where they feel empowered and open to talking about the things that make them feel upset, scared or uncomfortable, both inside and outside Scouting.

To support you in this we will be releasing a new version of Young People First (commonly referred to as the Yellow Card) on 1 March. A new version of Young People First for Young Leaders (the Orange Card) is also available. The new cards are easier to carry, easier to understand, and make it easier to report your concerns.

The Scout Association produced the first Yellow Card back in 1994 and we regularly review the content to ensure it’s in line with national best practice standards and meets the current needs of the Movement.  Following consultation with the Movement and external partners we have produced version six of the Yellow Card, which we believe will strengthen the work done locally to ensure the wellbeing of young people is paramount in Scouting.

The Scout Association’s Safeguarding Team are available to advise on any concerns you may have about the behaviour of an adult or the welfare of a child, inside and outside Scouting. Local Commissioners and Safeguarding Awareness Co-ordinators are also available to support you in making your Group a safe space for young people to share their concerns. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and everyone in Scouting has a duty to report concerns or suspicions and a right to do so in confidence and free from harassment. If you would rather seek advice from outside the Association we have included contact details for the NSPCC on the back of the new Yellow Card.

Where a young person is at immediate risk of significant harm we no longer ask you to call social services but instead go straight to the police. Please remember that we also take referrals about things that may be happening outside of Scouting but could affect the welfare of a young person. By sharing a small piece of information, you could be the catalyst needed to help us put the support in place to protect a child from harm.

Please note that there are no rule changes in the new card but we have made the code of behaviour more succinct. Examples have been removed as we found these were causing confusion and we have placed a greater emphasis on creating an open and transparent culture where concerns are shared.

Please ensure that you request a new Yellow Card from your line manager, order in bulk from Scout Store or pick up a copy at a local Safeguarding Awareness event.  It’s important that you don’t just carry the card with you but that you revisit it regularly with your team. You should also be sharing the contents of the card with young people, parents and visitors to your Group.

By doing this, we create a Movement where young people feel safe and parents feel confident sending their children to Scouts. As adults in Scouting, it’s our duty to ensure that, at all times, we put the needs of young people first.

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