Sutton Coldfield Scouts thanked Andrew Mitchell MP and Councillor Alex Yip JP for helping them earn their Media Relations & Marketing Badge. “I want to personally thank Andrew Mitchell MP and Councillor Alex Yip JP” said Alco Jensema, Scout Leader of 5th Sutton Coldfield Scouts “on behalf of the Sutton Coldfield East District and Scout Leaders. I would like to thank you both. Your support for our Scouts in this matter is very much appreciated”.

The Sutton Coldfield Scouts had to choose from various activities to earn their badge. Each young person participating in the programme faced a similar degree of challenge and requirements could be adapted according to each young person`s abilities. One of the activities the Scouts did was to prepare a creative display that could be exhibited in Sutton Coldfield Library or public places. Alco explained that the Scouts were not short on inspiration and believes that Scouting is all about preparing young people for life.

“Our Scouts have had a busy year”, he said. “We had images of them participating in really awesome and inspiring thinks like building rafts and racing them across Powells Pool in Sutton Park, camping, air rifle shooting, bag packing for charity, the Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet where they made contact with other Scouts from over 40 countries around the world right here in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield”.

The big adventure for the Sutton Coldfield Scouts in 2018 was representing the Royal Town at the Jurassic International Jamboree in Dorset for a week. The Royal Town Council gave them a grant for their clothing and barbecue equipment. Additional sponsorship came from Calor Gas and Town and Country Meats. “A big thank you once again to Councillor Alex Yip JP” said Alco “on behalf of Scouts from 5th Sutton Coldfield. Councillor Alex Yip sorted out all of our transport costs through Ying Wah Travel and Wing Yip Wholesalers in Birmingham’s Chinatown. As Scout Leaders we are all volunteers, we do not get paid and Councillor Yip’s support was gratefully received”.

Another activity was interviewing a local public figure or someone in the news. The work that the Scouts did also went towards another badge called the World Challenge Award by finding out about the world they live in and how they positively impacted upon their communities. “What better way to combine these requirements than by inviting our local MP?”, said Alco. “Graciously both Councillor Alex Yip JP and Andrew Mitchell MP agreed to join Sutton Coldfield Scouts at the recently refurbished Four Oaks Methodist Church and be grilled to a question and answer session by the Scouts”.

To prepare for the event the Scouts used their Scouting sessions to think of questions they could ask the MP about his role in Parliament, his views on Brexit and other recent political events. As a former Scout himself, the young people also wanted to know what the MPs perspective was on Scouting. “The Scouts even had one of our Leaders stand in for Andrew Mitchell”, said Alco “and he had to act and answer as if he were a Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield. I don’t think the Leader had been to RADA”, joked Alco, “but he was very good. Even I was convinced that the Member of Parliament for the Royal Town was here with us that night! The benefit for our young people was that they could practice asking questions. Westminster`s politics seems far away for our amazing young people but they all have great ideas and aspirations of what they think the world should be like. By inviting our local MP to join us they lowered the barrier and learned what part they could play in positively influencing their community”.

When Andrew Mitchell MP arrived at Four Oaks Methodist Church with Councillor Alex Yip JP he had also brought along a Channel 4 film crew. The Scouts were privileged to be able to observe their MP giving a live interview on air to Channel 4 regarding the situation in Saudia Arabia and Yemen. The Scout then put their questions to their Member of Parliament. “There were discussions about global warming”, explained Alco, “housing and the perception of groups of young people in public spaces”.

Andrew Mitchell MP stressed that young people could be involved by contacting their MP when they have issues they felt concerned about and needed to raise them in the political process. “It was great to see that one of the Scouts had already done so”, enthused Alco Jensema “and now had the opportunity to discuss his letter about cycling in Sutton Park with his MP in person. It was great meeting our MP and I would like to thank Andrew Mitchell for his openness with the children and to Councillor Alex Yip in helping to organise the evening. Our MP provided insightful answers to the Scouts and kept them engaged during the whole session. I spoke to one of the Scouts after the MP had left and they felt that politics is a lot closer to them than they imagined. They also mentioned how impressed they were observing Andrew providing an interview to Channel 4. Thank you once again, Andrew: your support for our Scouts in this matter is very much appreciated.”