MINEHEAD is one of over 200 places in the UK to be launching the Scout Association’s new brand, Squirrels.

Squirrels, the Scouts' first new brand for 35 years, is aimed at children aged four and five with priority given to communities most affected by the pandemic.

Following a pilot programme that had success in Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities and areas of deprivation, Squirrels will join the Scouts’ existing early years groups, Beavers and Cubs.


Squirrels members will wear red uniforms, have their own sets of badges, and take part in activities like pitching a blanket tent, planting seeds or learning how to spend 50p in a local shop.

New badges that Squirrels can earn will include Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments.

The 1st Exmoor Scouts group, based in Alcombe, Minehead, is among those that will be launching a Squirrels group with an emphasis on socialisation and personal development for children in a positive, safe environment.

Squirrels will run on Mondays during term-time from 5-6pm in Alcombe, and the first meeting will be held this evening (September 13). 

Somerset County Gazette:

Carlos Gilberto, who will lead the Squirrels group at 1st Exmoor Scouts, told the County Gazette: "I'm absolutely excited and thrilled to be able to lead the new generation of Scouts. 

"It’s important for the children so they can go out and socialise again.

"All the stuff we do for the children is for their personal development, and that’s been quite hard for them with Covid because they haven’t been able to have that interaction with anyone."

Last year, a series of reports by Ofsted suggested that the children hardest hit by nursery and school closures regressed in some basic skills and learning.

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood’s recent report on early years also recognised the lifelong benefits of good quality early education and recommended creating communities of support - making initiatives like Squirrels vital. 

"I think that families will benefit from Squirrels because it gives them peace of mind that their children will be in an environment where they can socialise safely," said Carlos.

"There aren’t many clubs in Minehead for children aged four to five.

"We have managed to bring Squirrels to Minehead due to the fact that it’s in a hard area economically, and because it has been through a tough time recently with Covid."

In Minehead and across the country, the Scouts are looking for volunteers and parents who are willing to help out with Squirrels and their other groups.

"We could do with as many volunteers as possible," said Carlos.  

Speaking about the launch of the new brand, Chief Scout and celebrity adventurer Bear Grylls said: "I’m so glad that younger children will now have the chance to join our family of Scouts and develop skills for life.

"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 people’s lives.

"To make this work we need more volunteers to join the team and donors to get behind us."

Matt Hyde, chief executive of Scouts, said: "Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic.

"What we learn up to five years old lays the building blocks for everything that follows. If you’re four, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns. 

"We know this has especially impacted children in communities hardest hit by the pandemic. That’s why we are opening the first Squirrel dreys (nests) in the communities that need it most."

For more information on 1st Exmoor and their Squirrels, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts groups, visit their website or email 1stexmoor@gmail.com.

Squirrels groups will also run in Bishop's Lydeard and Burnham-on-Sea.