MORE people are signing up to join the Scouts in Oxfordshire with the organisation reporting a long waiting list in the county.

According to the latest annual membership figures, Oxfordshire Scouts increased its numbers by almost 200 in the past year.

A total of 2,520 adults and 6,976 young people are now part of the 111-year-old organisation which runs adventure activities.

The annual membership census also highlighted that there are 1,124 young people waiting to join but more than 150 new volunteers are needed to cater for all of them.

The news comes after the Scout Association revealed the results of a survey showing the impact volunteering can have on the lives and mental wellbeing of those involved.

An online questionnaire of frequent volunteers conducted by polling company YouGov found that the majority reported having improved life satisfaction and self-esteem since beginning volunteer work, as well as having reduced feelings of loneliness and stress.

Phil Earl, lead volunteer for Oxfordshire Scouting, said: “I am proud to see that we continue to achieve such strong growth for scouting in the county. Providing our unique programme of adventure and skills for life to more young people is a huge achievement.

“Much of this is down to our amazing volunteers. As one of the county’s leading youth charities, we’re acutely aware of the importance of all the volunteers in Oxfordshire who give up their time every single week to help others.

“With the majority of volunteers saying they feel more motivated, confident and more skilled as a result of the work they do with us, it’s not just the young people they are working with that they’re benefitting.”

Despite volunteers reporting benefits in their professional as well as personal life, many raised concerns about their ability to balance all their commitments and said it was difficult to ask their employers for more flexibility.

Mr Earl said this ‘concerning’ finding meant a ‘national conversation’ is needed on the ways businesses can better support their employees who volunteer outside of work.

He added: “With known benefits to workers’ productivity, confidence and the extra skills they are gaining - being more flexible clearly benefits employers as well as their staff.”

Across the UK in the past year, Scouting experienced its 13th consecutive year of growth with 10,699 new youth members and 9,371 adult volunteers joining – the longest period of sustained growth the movement has experienced since the 1930s.

Chief Scout Bear Grylls said: “I am so proud that The Scout Association UK continues to see so many young people and adult volunteers signing up to not only have fun, experience adventures but also learn skills for life.

“And that applies to both the young people and volunteers.”