Beginning in 1949, for one week a year in April, all Scout groups across Britain ‘hired out’ their Scouts and Cubs for “Bob-a-Job week”, issuing them with job cards and instructions to go round to local homes, knock on strangers’ doors and ask for any small jobs the householder needed doing – such as mowing their lawn, washing their car, clearing leaves or helping the elderly with their shopping – in exchange for a ‘bob’ (the colloquial term for a shilling).
Some households certainly exploited the service. In theory, a Scout earned a bob for doing one small, reasonable task such as clearing leaves or sorting bookshelves.
But there were instances of Scouts being presented with an entire silver tea set for cleaning, or being instructed to lug around cwt bags of coal.
“Bob-a-Job week” earned the Scout movement a fine reputation from the general public, who were pleased at having an ‘odd-job-man’ on call while being able to help the movement at the same time.
In 1970, the name “Scout Job Week” was introduced instead as a result of decimalisation, and the going rate gradually snuck up to 50p or a pound.
Scout Job Week was discontinued in 1992 due to health and safety restrictions and fears of predatory paedophiles, and it became increasingly impossible for the scouts to organise fundraising activities that involved young people acting on their own in the community without the support or supervision of a responsible adult.
“Scout Community Week” was introduced in 2012, but instead of solitary Cubs and Scouts going door-to-door, this fundraising activity involves organised groups of Scouts taking part in planned community work in exchange for a donation to the group.