Valuing our volunteers…

This week I attended our County’s annual review. My main reason for attending was because this fabulous lady – our Unit Leader at Guides – was getting awarded her 10 year Long Service Award.

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Our District Commissioner had let me know she was down to get it, and I was like ‘I will be there!‘ Oh yeah, and I warned my fellow leader that I was coming to cheer loudly when they announced her name! 🙂 (It turned out two other leaders I know from our area were getting Long Service Awards, and two of our Division got Good Service Awards too – so that led to more cheering).

It was a fantastic night, held in our City Chambers (fancy!) and our County Commissioner team led the night fabulously with little bits of humour. You know an ‘AGM’ type meeting is good if you’re not falling asleep and you don’t realise how late it has gotten because it seems to have flown by!

It was also enlightening. I heard that the average number of years a leader stays in Guiding as a volunteer is 2 years (umm…yup – that sounds about right – that was the case with me back at the start of the Millennium). And then I also had the shock of discovering that my Senior Section unit account for the only Chief Guide Challenge to be awarded  in the whole of Edinburgh this year. Apparently none were awarded at all last year. I was equally shocked to discover how few Young Leadership Qualifications have been awarded over the last two years, and I believe that my thought that many leaders don’t have an awful lot of knowledge of the Senior Section programme, and Senior Section members aren’t being supported and encouraged to achieve through the programme available which is so accessible.

Things like the Service Awards I think are so important in showing value to leaders who have given so much dedication as volunteers. I’m hoping to investigate more ways in which we can show how much we value volunteers in Girlguiding. It’s never the reason any of us do it, but I think it’s good to find ways to show our appreciation.

I’ve spent many years now working in communities. For the last eight, a major part of my last two jobs has been what is known in the community learning and development circles as ‘building capacity’ – both of individuals, groups and the community as a whole.

In my last job, part of my role was the recruitment, training and support of volunteers, and later was asked by a national charity to support similar local charities to the one I worked for to advise them in how they could grow support and awareness for their work too. When it’s been part of your working life for so long, it’s tough to take that recruitment and support hat off, especially when it involves a movement you are passionate about.

I guess that’s why I’m always trying to find ways to grow the capacity of Girlguiding. It’s also why I blog here – I hope that this blog is helpful for those interested in getting involved, or who already are. Girlguiding helped me gain so many skills and so much confidence as a young girl growing into a young woman. And since coming back three years ago, I have been reminded of that so much. I hope that I’ve been giving back to the girls I work with, because I know they’ve been helping me relearn old skills and inspiring me to do more in our community and dream bigger

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2 thoughts on “Valuing our volunteers…

  1. Wow, really? Two years? That’s… incredibly sad. I always thought we had a high turnover because we’re in a very student area, but if that statistic is for the whole country it actually makes us look good.

    • It is an average – not sure if it’s an Edinburgh, Scottish or UK statistic. But I can well believe it. In our area we’ve had leaders stay a few weeks or months then disappear.

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