Scouts roll out new early years Squirrels programme across east London

The east London Scouts have launched an early years programme for four to five-year-olds called Squirrels. 

The east London Scouts have launched an early years programme for four to five-year-olds called Squirrels. - Credit: Scouts/Martyn Milner

The east London Scouts have just launched a brand new early years programme for four to five-year-olds with new groups located in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

The Squirrels programme is the first new addition to the UK Scouts in 35 years. It was launched to support early years children to learn essential life skills. 

The Scouts are calling on grown-up volunteers however, to help the roll out of groups in east London. 

Volunteers will help Squirrels be active, explore nature and have fun learning outdoors with friends. 

The programme is calling for grown-up volunteers to help.

The programme is calling for grown-up volunteers to help. - Credit: Scouts/Martyn Milner

Chief Scout Bear Grylls urged people to volunteer and for donors to get behind the programme, adding: “I'm so glad that younger children from East London will now have the chance to join our family of Scouts and develop skills for life.


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"We know from our pilot programme that four and five-year-olds can really benefit from the activities that Squirrels offers. All of us at the Scouts believe that by offering opportunities at this early age, inspiring a sense of wonder, fun and curiosity, we can have a long-lasting, positive impact on young peoples' lives."

Squirrels groups are opening across east London in September and October this year. 

Squirrels groups are opening across east London in September and October this year. - Credit: Scouts/Martyn Milner

The Royal Foundation’s research 2020 on early years recently recognised the lifelong benefits of good quality early education.

Ofsted research from October 2020 also revealed that in communities hardest hit by the pandemic, early years children have returned less confident and more anxious after lockdowns.

Young Scout with an umbrella.

The UK-wide roll-out of the new Squirrels section is preceded by the pioneering work of Squirrels in Northern Ireland over the last twenty years. - Credit: Scouts/Martyn Milner

The Squirrels programme aims to create a safe environment for children to develop and learn new things, while having outdoor adventures and earning a new set of badges. 

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Activities will include pitching a blanket tent, plating seeds and learning how to spend 50p in a local shop. 

To support the expanded programme the Scouts are looking for 5,000 new volunteers for east London groups. 

The last new Scouts age range to introduced was Beaver Scouts for 6 and 7 year olds in 1986.

The last new Scouts age range to introduced was Beaver Scouts for 6 and 7 year olds in 1986. - Credit: Scouts/Martyn Milner

Some east London Squirrel groups have already opened. The Poplar group will open on September 23, The Isle of Dogs group on October 2, Bethnal Green on October 3, Stoke Newington on October 4, Tower Hamlets on October 8 and Stepney Scout groups on October 9. 

To find out more about the Squirrels programme contact info.centre@scouts.org.uk or call 0345 3001818

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