Whatever someone’s background or belief, sexuality or race, we continually celebrate that Scouts is good and accessible for all.
And that’s exactly what has been happening in Hampshire with Explorer Scouts who have engaged with their recent Inclusion event.
The 1st Fareham Scout Group welcomed more than 30 young people, aged 14 to 17, from across the Denwulf District and the Meon Valley areas to meet two inspirational speakers who have faced their own challenges and triumphs around Inclusion.
First to speak was Lt Cdr Oliver Brown of the Royal Navy.
Lt Cdr Brown shared his story about going from being diagnosed with HIV, and contemplating suicide as he was medically suspended from his job, right through to getting help, and using his time on suspension to research HIV, review the policies set out by the Armed Forces and work out how he was going to challenge the heads of the forces with his findings.
Lt Cdr Oliver was successful in challenging these policies and this has led to a national change in policy and can now continue to enjoy his career.
He said: “Being diagnosed with HIV in November 2019 was a shock and my knowledge of what my life would become was lacking.
“I did not even know if I would be able to remain in service. I was glad to learn this was not the case and my life would change very little except for one tablet a day.”
Those present had the opportunity to ask questions and explore the importance of the matter in more detail.
The other speaker included the co-chair of the first Chichester Pride event, Mel Hamilton.
Mel shared her story from being born a male to becoming a transgender female and how she approached the many different challenges such as telling her family, having to move away from her support network and dealing with many things on her own.
She also gave the background of how the Pride movement was formed and what it stands for.
Gary Callaghan, the lead volunteer for the Fareham-based group, emphasised that these events are important for all.
He said: “Events like these are really important not just within Scouting, but for the whole of society.
“It would be great to see more events like this happening across our communities and hopefully this event can be a catalyst for change.”
For more information about the Scouts approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, go to scouts.org.uk/volunteers/inclusion-and-diversity/
Words by Sam Poole