Girls and young women make up quarter of Scouts
Published 14/04/2016 | 00:11
Young women and girls now make up a quarter of all Scouts, with thousands joining up in the last year alone.
New figures show that in the 25 years since the Scout Association first admitted girls, the numbers have steadily grown, with 144,000 holding membership, including female adult volunteers.
Of these, 92,000 are girls and young women who have joined one of the Scout sections - Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts.
It means that overall, over one in four scouts is female - the highest proportion in a quarter of a century. In the 12 months up to the end of January, 5,500 joined the association.
The most popular Scouting section for girls is the Cub Scouts, which takes eight to 10-year-olds, the figures show.
Chief Scout Bear Grylls said he was excited to see that Scout numbers are rising in general, and in particular among girls.
Among the young women to sign up are 16-year-old triplets Kate, Sophie and Flora Davison, from Haverhill, Suffolk. They joined at age eight and are now Explorer Scouts.
"Most people think Scouting's for boys, but that's not the case any more," Kate said. "Everyone is friendly and treats each other the same. Sometimes people think girls just like girly things, but we love doing a whole range of things."
The Scout Association's latest annual membership figures show that nearly half a million young people in the UK (452,000 in total) belong to the Scout Association - up 2% on 2014. Once adult volunteers are included, there are 573,000 members, up 5% in a year.
The numbers of youngsters signing up have grown for 11 years in a row, the association said, with 7,900 joining in 2015 alone.
A breakdown shows that the 10 fastest growing areas for Scout membership are: Radnor, County Tyrone, County Fermanagh, Humberside, Carmarthenshire, East Lancashire, Isle of Man, West Scotland, Lincolnshire and Solihull.
Survival expert Grylls said: "I am super proud to see so many young people and adults learning new life skills, and achieving personal rewards through Scouting in the UK. I am excited to see Scout numbers continue to rise across the UK, especially the numbers of girls.
"What I'm most pleased about is that Scouts across the UK are putting their time in to helping their local communities. Through our A Million Hands campaign we are pledging one million hands to supporting four of the biggest social issues currently facing the UK and the wider world, but we can't do it on our own.
"We want all young people to come and give Scouting a try and to get involved. This is how we can all play a vital role in shaping tomorrow's world for the better."