UK Scouts 'let down' by organisers of World Scout Jamboree

Chief Executive of UK Scouts spoke to our reporter Lauren Hall - his first interview since the UK contingent pulled out of the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea

The Chief Executive of UK Scouts has said they feel “disappointed” and “let down” by the organisers of the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea.

In his first media interview since they pulled out of the international event, Matt Hyde told ITV News that a number of issues on the campsite meant it was no longer safe for the 4,500 scouts from the UK.

He explained there were problems with sanitation, food and medical care. He said the heatwave was also a cause for concern and questioned whether enough was being done to protect scouts from the hot weather.

“As the event went on, we became more concerned about those conditions and that’s the reason why we took action before it became serious” he said.

“We are disappointed and feel let down by the organisers. We raised these concerns repeatedly, we had reassurances that things were going to be put in place, but I’m afraid it was too little, too late.”

On Friday afternoon, the UK contingent announced it was withdrawing from the international event which brings together 45,000 Scouts from across the world.

Since then, the US, Singapore and Australia have also pulled out and Mr Hyde believes others will too. “I think it’s pretty clear that other countries will follow and I think in the next 24 hours I can imagine others leaving” he said.

Scouts from the UK and other countries had a delayed start to the jamboree due to flooding at the campsite. Since arriving on site last week, a heatwave led to scores of young people requiring medical attention

Dozens of people were treated for heat-related illnesses at the World Scout Jamboree. Credit: AP

The UK contingent were brought back to the capital city Seoul over the weekend. The British Embassy is helping to arrange a new programme of activities for the remainder of their stay.

Scouts have expressed their disappointment but say they are making the best of the situation. Georgia Ellams, 16, from Wrexham explained:  We are disappointed we can’t continue with the friendships we made at the jamboree, but we understand why we had to go back to Seoul - the UK made the right decision.”

Celyn Jones, 17, and also from Wrexham added: “We are tired but ready to make the most of what Seoul has to offer.”

In a statement, the World Organisation of the Scout Movement said it had “asked the Host to consider alternative options to end the event earlier than scheduled and support the participants until they depart for their home countries.

"The Host decided to go ahead with the event, assuring that they will do everything possible to address the issues caused by the heat wave by adding additional resources.

“We continue to call on the host and the Korean government to honor their commitments to mobilise additional financial and human resources, and to make the health and safety of the participants their top priority.”

The organisers of the World Scout Jamboree, have given assurances that it is safe enough and say additional measures are being put in place, including more medical staff, and more protection from the hot weather. The event is due to continue until August 12.

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