Thursday, 19 April 2012

And now for something completely different

You'll have noticed, that occaisionally, in passing, I might accidentally mention that I'm a Guider. Tongue firmly in cheek here you understand I'm sure. This post has nothing to do with food, and everything to do with Guiding. Fancy a s'more? Or is a damper more your style? OK, so maybe a bit to do with food.

I lead Fourth Friern Barnet Guides, and assist at Fifth Whetstone Brownies, I've been working with both units for about 6 years now, and I love it. I enjoy the games, the craft, the activities and the holidays. I love to sing and am renowned at Division level for my rendition of The Princess Pat, with actions no less. I love that the children don't know (nor do they need to) of my disability. I get immense satisfaction from watching them grow from girls into accomplished, confident young women. I love that they don't care that I'm pulling my hair out at work, that I desperately need to do the housework, that I'm tired, that I have blogposts to write.  While I'm there - I'm theirs. They have my undivided attention, their world is my focus. It's liberating, thought provoking, and most of all fun.

I myself was a Brownie, Guide and Young leader and was active until University when Winchester proved not to be the hotbed of Guiding activity I had hoped for.  I then had a break and started Guiding as an adult about a year after my Dad died. This was all a long time before this blog was even a twinkle in my eye. I was a bit lost really in the world, the person that had always been my rudder, my home if you will had gone, and feeling somewhat sad I sent GirlGuiding UK an email asking if there were any volunteering opportunities near me. Within a week I had a phone call from Sarah, our District Commisioner (now a good friend) who needed some help at Brownies as her mum was retiring. Sarah came over for coffee a week or so later, we chatted, completed my CRB and within about 6 weeks I went along to Brownies for a visit. I've talked already about what I get from Brownies now, but then what I got was the validation that enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, to throw yourself into something meant I could be good at something. I started shortly after a Brownie called Maisie had made her promise, when I made mine, she stuck a silver star onto my promise badge because she was proud of me, I still wear it that way to this day as a reminder - Maisie's about to start Rangers. At Brownies and Guides none of the things that meant I felt different mattered, and in time, with the support of a girl only space and the women who've become my friends they didn't ever matter.

Now I have amazing friends - we meet up from time to time, most excitingly on Brownsea Island which to this day is one of my favourite weekends probably ever. We share crafts, sing songs, eat together, sleep in dormitories, wear our uniforms with pride and generally love and care for each other like the sisterhood we are (Ben, I include you in that). My Guider friends were the people I turned to when I was turned down for a job and learned my Grandad had died within about 6 hours of each other, they're the ones when I am feeling down send me hugs. They divert me (and I them) with Draw Something, and sometimes they turn up with ice cream, a copy of Heat magazine and their knitting when they know I need company. They help me build my Ikea furniture in my first home of my own, they send me Secret Santa gifts and they share my outrage when someone says something negative about Guiding anywhere on the internet.

What makes me sad though, is when we can't do things, when I can't (as I can't this year) physically manage to organise and run another camp, when I hear of units closing because we don't have enough volunteers. Of girls missing out because we don't have enough adults.

And that's the situation I find myself in at the moment. In our Division, this summer - three Rainbow units will close as we have no volunteers to take on the responsibility. Rainbows traditionally meet earliest because they're our youngest section (from 5-7) Three units? That pretty much all of them. Somewhere in Finchley, Whetstone or Friern Barnet we have to be able to find 6 people who would take these units on? Would, with support from the established leaders, build these units up and enjoy the experience that volunteering brings.

For more information about Rainbows - click here

Perhaps you want to learn some new skills to polish up your CV? Perhaps you want to try something new, or just an evening where you just do something completely different? Equally, although my specific aim at the moment is those Rainbow leaders, it's not all front line - are you interested in Marketing? Event Management? Accounts? Shopping? Recruitment? There's opportunities to get involved in all of those things on a local and national level.

I'm specifically looking for leaders in the Finchley, Barnet, Friern Barnet and Whetstone areas - however, GirlGuiding UK currently has around 50,000 girls and young women on waiting lists across the country. Girls who are being denied the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, try new activities, go on holidays, trips, legitimately (and safely) learn to set and cook over a fire, go wild in the countryside, on camp. Be themselves, be validated in a space that's theirs, where they don't have to conform to the societal expectations of how they should look, speak or behave. Be friends, learn leadership skills, develop their self-confidence, their commitment to being a citizen of the world, to social responsibility and to having fun.

Can you give up some time, each week to have fun and potentially change someone's life?

If you're local to me - please click on this link to see more about what's going on in Finchley and Friern Barnet, or email me here for more information.
Perhaps you were a Brownie or a Guide yourself and want to pass that experience on? Don't be put of by the preconception that you have to give up x amount of time each week - Guiding prides itself on being flexible. If you're somewhat daunted at the prospect of volunteering - why not try our 12 hour challenge specifically designed to give you a taster of what Guiding's about. It's not brown dresses and sewing on buttons anymore.

Lots of employers are pleased to support people who volunteer, some offer extra annual leave to be used with your unit (great for camps and holidays) allow and support you to leave early on meeting nights, or even match fund for equipment and outings. Employer Supported Volunteering can really make volunteering easier on you.

Click here to start an amazing journey of fun, friendship and a startling amount of glitter.

All girls pictured have appropriate photo permissions

1 comment:

Unknown said...

How I wish I'd had a guide leader as enthusiastic as you! Our guider was a real stick in the mud who never wanted to do anything exciting, she was always trying to get us do stuff like embroidery!

I'm definitely enlisting Ted to the Beavers when he is six.


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