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.

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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, andĀ 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! šŸ™‚ (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 Ā 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 theĀ 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