Volunteer Recruitment Stalls

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Volunteers. We have a huge need for them in our area, as Edinburgh has the biggest waiting lists anywhere in the country. I now struggle to make weekly meetings every single week, as my jobs require me to work evenings and sometimes travel to other places overnight. Our unit leader’s husband also has to work away overnight. And we never managed to replace our other Assistant Leader. We also have had at least two units at risk of closure in the last year.

One of our District Commissioners decided to grab the bull by the horns and got us a spot at our local shopping centre. It wasn’t the best time of year to do it as it was summer holidays – but needs must. We hope that by having the stall we got a few volunteer leads plus raised awareness in our city about the volunteering needs.

So what did we do?

  1. We had a rota of Girlguiding volunteers of all ages. This included two commissioners, two adult leaders, two members of the Senior Section and even a Rainbow and a Brownie! We all wore different versions of the uniform. A mistake we have seen in the past is having lots of volunteers on a stall – and that’s a little bit intimidating for strangers to attempt to engage with.
  2. We designed a display that hopefully gave a flavour of what Girlguiding looks like in 2017. If we had more time, I think we would have liked to have had more photos of all the sections in action.
  3. Lots of leaflets that we could hand out to those interested
  4. Our lovely mascots, which of course included Olave Bearen-Powell
  5. Tried to use social media in the lead up to encourage people to come along and say hello. I strongly recommend tweeting your local MP/MSPs/Councillors to ask them to come along and RT the info about where your stall will be and when.

What I find is that members of the general public passing by your stall are just wanting to get from A to B and are worried about being asked for money or being sold something. So you need to have people who are willing to approach people and be approachable! A few things which helped attract people to come talk to us were

  1. Free gifts (in this case sweets, but if your budget allows, I always recommend free pens. Everyone can use a pen so it’s less likely to end up in a drawer of junk or the bin and it’s a good thing to keep reminding them of your organisation when they pull it out to use or lend to someone else in need)
  2. An interactive element to your stall.
    I got a tabletop flipchart from Amazon similar to this one which I also plan to use for Senior Section. This made it easy to carry, and not a hazard if it got knocked over. It also had two sides we could use, so on one side we asked people to tell us their Guiding memories. On the other side we asked what people thought Girlguiding members do in 2017. The Guiding memories question inspired lots of conversations from people of all ages who were wandering through the shopping centre.
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All in all it was a lovely afternoon, and worth it. I definitely hope our Division does more of these in our local supermarkets, community events and going back to our local shopping centre. The other side of it was leaders from different sections and Districts got a chance to get to know each other as it’s rare for us to see each other unless we are interacting from sharing a church hall or talking about girls moving up from one unit to another.

Have you been doing anything to promote volunteering opportunities in your area? What has worked well for you?

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Long time, no blog!

Hello!

It’s been a long time since I blogged, and I promise I have a good excuse. At the end of last term, things got a little bit crazy as in May I was having numerous interviews about job opportunities. In the end, I was offered two part-time jobs in the space of 30 minutes (crazy after a THREE YEAR search for work in the CLD sector) so in the last week of term I travelled to London to start a part-time job as a Fundraising Officer for a national charity, and then after helping out as a group leader, worship leader and First Aider at Surf Camp started another part-time job with a youth project to develop services for young women.

Schools went back in Edinburgh this past week, and the Midlothian schools go back this coming Tuesday…so I’m started to get prepared for a new school year in all manner of ways!

As much as I am able to, I will continue sharing what our units get up to. In the hope that it helps other volunteers and youth workers.

Some of the things we have planned for this term is:

Patrols choosing, planning and doing a Go For It badge

Trip to a new trampoline park, roller rink or Gang Show (we had requests, and they will get to vote on which trip they want to do, with potential to do others later on in the year).

Organising a sponsored Little Lights Walk for Bliss (there will be glow bands & luminous face paint!)

Participating in local community services of Remembrance.

Having our first proper Patrol Leader elections (the girls have always asked us to choose, but we would like to encourage them taking more ownership of this…so we shall see. I’ve been asking other leaders about how their Guide units organise leaders and patrols).

Having a visit from one of our local Peer Educators to do Think Resilient.

plus if our Young Leaders get it finished soon, we hope to have a party to celebrate them gaining their Young Leadership Qualification.

We also have a location move this year, where we will be leaving our old hall and moving to a different one. We are still waiting for details to be finalised (in particular for storage space to be made available to us).

And that’s just for Guides!

Senior Section starts back this week, and I’m hoping for more organisation, commitment and flexibility of meetings so they can do more this year. We shall see. It will really depend on what the girls want and decide.

Whodunnit?

Recently some unexpected absences led to a panic about what we were going to do at Guides as we had to quickly change what we had planned. Cue our unit helper, Penny coming to the rescue by borrowing an idea from her daughter to play a large Guide themed game of cluedo!img_8679

As you can see we used some masking tape, and equipment we’ve collected over the years from Active Kids (training poles, throw down feet and bean bags) to set up our ‘Cluedo Board’. The Guides loved this so much they insisted on playing it three times, and we are using this year’s vouchers to get a few more things (like a giant foam dice) to make playing this game a more frequent activity and a bit easier to set up.

Penny has kindly sent me the instructions after a Guide leader asked me if I could share how the game works. They are in the PDF document below (click on Guide Cluedo).

I believe it was Professor Laurie Plum, in the kitchen, with the hot chocolate! 😉

Guide Cluedo

Toasting marshmallows on the beach…

There’s a constant challenge with Rangers, trying to keep it girl-led, flexible but also trying to still do something to make it worth coming to. I always feel like I’m not doing a good enough job of providing opportunities to them through Girlguiding.

Due to my job changes, and so many of the girls doing school trips abroad, one off to Camp America and a few on Duke of Edinburgh, we have had to do away with trips we wanted to do…like our end of year campfire. We used to be able to use a Girlguiding campsite that was 10 minutes away, and backed on to our Assistant Leader’s garden (handy if we ever forgot anything!) but it was sold off last year.  We also have several of the girls who have commitments right before our meeting time so often arrive late. Going on a trip is even more difficult because of this.

We did manage one though – we headed down to beach area not too far away in the North West of the city, disposable barbecue in hand so we could toast some marshmallows.

It was wonderfully dry but got very chilly by the end of the night as the barbecue died down and the wind blew! It was a very brisk walk back to the car park, where many of the Rangers hid in my car to keep warm while they waited for parents to arrive to pick them up. They also spotted that someone had tossed rubbish all over a section of the car park and decided to use some Guiding spirit to go pick it up and put it in the nearest bin (as a Surfers Against Sewage supporter, I wholly approved of this initiative). And as the sun started to set, I fully appreciated a night outdoors!

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I don’t just volunteer to meet bunnies…

Because I’m usually the one behind the camera at Guides and Senior Section, there are very few pictures of me ‘at work’ as a Guide leader from the last year.IMG_0695

This one was taken by one of our Young Leaders (I think!) when our Guide unit visited Pets At Home to learn about pet care. One of the Guides got very nervous and scared holding this bunny and in the end I held it while helping her to calmly stroke it. We named the bunny Simba because we thought he looked a bit like a lion. After the holidays one of our Guides ran up to me to tell me that she had found out from the Pets At Home staff that Simba had now been adopted by a family.

I’ve written before about why I volunteer with Girlguiding. Essentially it’s for two reasons. Firstly, to give back to the organisation that gave so much to me as I was growing from a little girl to a young woman. Secondly, because it can be so rewarding to watch and support girls grow into young women.

I’ve been privileged to have some of those young women message me long after they’ve left my unit to say thank you. I’ve watched girls with no confidence make friends and achieve things they didn’t believe they were capable of. I’ve had girls that I constantly had to give my ‘Guider stare’ to or ‘have words’ with become the ones who end up being positive role models for the next generation of Guides. They come to me saying “Oh my goodness, remember when I…” or “I can’t believe how I used to…” and I respond by saying “Oh yes, I remember. But look at you NOW.”

Over the last three years it’s been hard to keep going, with job changes, trying to finish university and other stuff. But it’s made possible by working as part of a team of other volunteers. We take our turns, we help one another out. We don’t just commisserate and cheer one another on during meetings, but share what’s going on in our lives outside Guiding too. That’s why last year I was at the weddings of some of my fellow leaders. It’s why right now me and our unit helper are collecting lego cards for our unit leader’s youngest son!

We keep doing it because we try to make it fun. We keep going through the harder, frustrating times because we have those moments where we realise how much it is worth it!

8 years of my life have been given to volunteering with Girlguiding. More if you count my time as a Guide helper at a Brownie unit! And I hope I can give many more.

Here’s to all the volunteers….past…present…and hopefully future ones!

To find out more about how you can volunteer with Girlguiding head over to their website.

You can read my previous years of Volunteers Week posts here and here.

Sharing reviews and Thirteen Reasons Why

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Our library is now up and running, with the Senior Section giving ongoing requests for books to add to our bookcase. Over the easter holidays, most of the girls took books or films home and a few of them wrote up reviews for their blog at our last meeting. We had a little bit of chat about one of the books that many had requested, Thirteen Reasons Why as over the holidays a Netflix series based on the book was released and has caused quite a lot of controversy. I was intrigued because the girls had mentioned the book so many times, plus I’ve been a long time supporter of the charity To Write Love On Her Arms which raises awareness of mental health. I did have concerns about the show as the episodes went on though. A friend asked me my opinion after seeing some articles about it on social media and I advised her not to watch for fear certain scenes would be a trigger for her. Several of our members have been watching the series – as I know many teens have (several of young people who I have known from surf camp, as well as teen sons and daughters of my friends have posted about it on social media). I think that the post that Jamie Tworkowski (founder of To Write Love On Her Arms) has written in response to the show is a measured and sensible one. And the TV series for sure has taken quite a few liberties from the original story in the book. I’m guessing for ‘dramatic’ effect (and I suspect, reason to create a Season 2).

Anyway, if you are interested in our members’ opinions on books and films they have been reading and watching you can find them over on their blog. They are doing this as part of their Phase 2 or Phase 3 of Personal Values octant.

Perks Of Being A Wallflower (film)

The House on Mango Street (book)

Thirteen Reasons Why (book)

The next month sees us in school exam season, so we will be having some chilled out nights with less serious discussion I imagine! 🙂 We shall see.

The Women’s History Timeline…

The girls decided they wanted to do something for International Women’s Day, and I guess because of the library have been thinking more about inspiring women of late. So they suggested that we all come to the meeting (myself as well) with a woman that inspired us. We each chose a decade/era so that no one would have the same woman or group of women, and we came prepared to share about our women. I think the idea was to dress up as well, but none of us ended up doing that!

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They also decided to use their research  to create a timeline of women’s history. It was by no means all inclusive – there’s just so much we could add. All our chosen women were of course main features, and from some of the books which they had requested and arrived in time for that meeting like Rad Women Worldwide had female historical figures they decided to add.

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We got distracted by putting our library together the night they planned to do this, so it was only last week that it finally got finished. I left them to it, chatting to girls about their Look Wider books, and lending out my laptop to some of the girls who were taking turns to use it to write blog reviews on books and films they read/watched over the Easter holidays.

Sometimes I worry with activities like this that it might be too much like schoolwork. But as it came from them, I didn’t get concerned about it. And actually it’s inspired me more to get back involved with sharing women’s history and making it better known. The simple fact is we don’t get these history lessons in school. They also seemed to be invested in the project, and satisified with the end result.