A summary of what has gone on this year at The Boys’ Brigade in London
This year has been a completely different year to any other year in living memory. Leaders have had to think of new ways of doing things and it has been a challenge to engage with children and young people in extremely challenging circumstances.
What has come out of this year, is the amazing and varied skills our leaders have and the passion they bring to the organisation and their individual companies. It is also abundantly clear that our members and their parents really value what we do and that The Boys’ Brigade has a real place in 21st Century London.
As this post is being written, we are currently in the grips of a further surge of COVID-19 which has lead to tighter restrictions being imposed and companies currently facing the prospect of not being able to meet face-to-face at the start of the new term in January. It seems as though 2021 could be as challenging as 2020 but we will draw strength from the lessons we have learnt in 2020 and have faith that God has a plan for the organisation and our individual companies, and will give us the strength to continue to support our members and leaders.
Here is a summary of some of the achievements in 2020
A New Member of the Team
Stephen Taylor joined us in January as our Support & Development Lead. The year has certainly not been what he expected but he has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that companies are able to have access to the latest advice and guidance. He has also been working with other organisations to enable our members to still access opportunities and live life to the full. In the new year, Stephen will be working with trustees to ensure that this level of support continues and as thing return to normal, will be working hard to ensure that assistance is provided to help companies get back up and running.
Competitions still took place
The Cross Country and Band & Drill Competitions were held just before the national lockdown was announced in March. Companies were also able to enter the Ten Pin Bowling competition if they had managed to complete it before the national lockdown and the results were announced at the start of the year.
We are grateful to the team at BB Headquarters for the speed that the #BBatHome programme was launched. The quality of the programme materials has been extremely high and has enabled leaders to continue to engage with their members throughout the year. The programme materials have been adapted to reflect the changes in how companies are engaging and this high quality material looks set to continue into the new year. Companies have also adapted their programmes and come up with innovative ways of engaging their members, with excellent feedback from parents, children and young people.
Many companies have been engaging with their members through virtual sessions. Leaders have been learning new skills on how to operate online platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom and have been planning programmes that are suitable for delivery online. Battalions have also been holding virtual competitions and been supporting companies through the development of programme materials and encouraging smaller companies to join in the virtual sessions with larger companies. Its been great to see Companies & Battalions working together to ensure as many children and young people can be reached as possible.
The Boys’ Brigade in London have put together over 600 activity packs at two points this year, to help support companies. The first wave of activity packs were open to any company who requested them and aimed at our Anchors & Juniors. These contained a number of activities that our members could complete, along with the much loved sweets! A number of companies added their own items to the packs before sending them on to their members.
The second wave of activity packs were sent out just before Christmas and were offered to those companies who have struggled to engage with their members throughout the year. The packs contained a number of items and there were two variants aimed at either our Anchors & Juniors or Company Section & Seniors. As with the first wave, companies have added items to these packs and it has helped to retain engagement with their members over the Christmas period.
Our ReFresh training event took place online this year and was a great success! We had over 40 people from across the UK attend five varied workshops. Whilst certainly different, holding the event online meant that it was easier for leaders to attend and balance home life with the workshops. Feedback from the event will be used when planning next years event.
This Autumn, we trialled an initiative to offer our Seniors aged 16-18 the opportunity to attain a BTEC extended certificate in Team Work & Personal Development in the Community. Useful for enhancing both university and job applications and reflecting their commitment to their companies, 13 members signed up and the majority are well on their way to completing the qualification early in the new year. Feedback will be obtained at the beginning of 2021 and we hope that we will be able to continue this project in 2021.
The Boys’ Brigades Vision, Mission & Values
Our new Vision, Mission & Values were launched this year as planned and provide us with a clear, modern identity that enable us to proudly inform our communities of what we stand for. Whilst the launch of the five-year strategic plan has been pushed back from September 2020 to January 2021, there are elements of the plan that are already ahead of schedule, due to the new ways of working that we have had to develop this year.
Overall, the year hasn’t been what we planned initially but there have been some real positives that have come out of it and we have all been on a journey to learn, grow and discover in 2020. Thanks to all our leaders and supporters for enabling these great things to continue to happen and we look forward to working with you all in 2021!