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Uniformed groups and social integration 

The role uniformed youth groups play in enabling young people to mix socially with those who are different from them has been highlighted in a new study 

Social integration studyHighlights from the study, by ComRes and commissioned by the Youth United Foundation, include:

  • Uniformed youth groups are an effective way of encouraging young people to mix socially with those who are different from them – 84 per cent of uniformed youth report that at least some of the members of their group are different from them in some way (i.e. they’re part of a diverse group)
  • Uniformed young people are more likely than non-uniformed youth to say that the contact they have had with people that are different to them was positive
  • Uniformed youth groups help to foster a sense of social responsibility and connection to British society and British values – members are twice as likely as their non-uniformed counterparts to say they take part in social action at least once a week (58 per cent vs 30 per cent)
  • Uniformed and non-uniformed young people are similarly likely to be from a non-Christian faith (8 per cent vs 6 per cent), although uniformed young people are more likely to say their religion is Christian (50 per cent vs 30 per cent), and are less likely to say they’re atheist (13 per cent vs 24 per cent).

Girls’ Brigade England & Wales (GB) has been involved in the study, with GB group 1st Huncote, near Leicester, was chosen as a location for some of the 52 qualitative interviews conducted among uniformed youth, their parents/guardians, and volunteer group leaders.

One GB parent said ‘The girls need to learn to interact with different people of different ages from different backgrounds and that’s what the group provides; that’s invaluable.’ 

GB photo

GB’s Director Jules Murdy said, ‘These findings are good news for all uniformed youth groups, not just GB, in showing some of the positive impacts we have on young people.

'GB groups are very diverse and this social mixing shows how relevant we are as we celebrate our 125th anniversary year, and on the back of our recent appearance on BBC1’s Songs of Praise.’

The report's executive summary stated, 'Uniformed youth groups have a significant role to play in encouraging social mixing and integration amongst young people from different backgrounds, as evidenced by this research.

'With continued investment in their capacity to actively encourage a diverse, inclusive environment, these groups have the potential to extend their impact even further.'  

GB Ministries is home to four key initiatives that specialise in enabling this generation of (primarily) girls and women to openly explore and engage with real life and Christian faith in a fun, informative and hopeful way. They are The Girls’ Brigade England & Wales, koko, The Esther Collective, and UK Girl.

The full ComRes report, which launched on 18 July, can be read at http://yuf.org.uk/impact-reports/

YUF is a charity formed in 2012 by the eleven members of the Youth United Network: Army Cadets, Boys’ Brigade, Fire Cadets, Girlguiding/Brownies, Girls’ Brigade, Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade, Police Cadets, RAF Air Cadets, Scouts, Sea Cadets and St John Ambulance. 
Baptist Times, 22/08/2018
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