A Role for Everyone
No matter how much time you have to give, there's an opportunity for you!
Whether you're new to Girlguiding or have been involved before, there's a rewarding and fun volunteering role for you! We know that not everyone can volunteer on a regular basis, but you can still make an impact in a supporting role. No commitment is too small – every role is vital to running our charity.
If you'd like to be able to fit volunteering around your home and work commitments, or want to share a specialist skill then these roles are for you.
Read more about just some of our members here in Girlguiding North West England, volunteering in supporting and specialist roles!
"I liaise with unit leaders and parents to get girls off waiting lists and into units. Last year I helped open a new Brownie unit to alleviate the waiting lists in our area."
Melanie is the Enquiries Coordinator for South Manchester Division. Many of the units in the Division are popular and have long waiting lists and, with Melanie managing them with an overview of all of the units, she is able to offer alternatives to enable girls to join sooner – sometimes in neighbouring divisions too! Melanie said “I look after the new enquiries in GO for most of the units in the Division, contacting parents and liaising with unit leaders to either place girls or manage their expectations regarding length of wait for their chosen unit. Last year I helped open a new Brownie unit to alleviate the waiting lists in our area.”
Previously a Brownie, Guide & Young Leader in London until moving to Manchester to start university, Melanie then joined a local unit and gained her Leadership Qualification, volunteering at several Brownie units in Fallowfield, Gatley & Didsbury with just a short break for the birth of her daughter. When her daughter turned 10 and joined Guides she retired from her Unit Leader role, but a few years later, when her daughter joined Rangers she was approached by the Division Commissioner, who suggested developing the Enquiries Coordinator role.
Melanie loves being able to volunteer without the responsibility of weekly meetings, and says that it’s flexible as she can fit it around her work and home life commitments. She enjoys meeting and supporting leaders throughout the Division and also the contact it gives her with the parents.
Advocate Panel & Girlguiding Council: Lauren Wheeler
"These roles have given me greater confidence in speaking out about issues which I’m passionate about, allowed me to develop leadership skills and shown me that we all possess the ability to instigate change if we put our minds to it."
Lauren Wheeler is a member of the Advocate panel where, alongside a small group of other young women aged 14-25, she represents the views of young women across the organisation at a national level. She also represents the North West on the Girlguiding Council, which typically meets once a year to discuss things like the organisation’s strategy, direction, and finances. She saw both opportunities advertised on the Girlguiding website and filled out an application before going through the selection process.
As a member of the Advocate panel, she attends monthly meetings to discuss the most pressing issues affecting our young members, which influences the direction of Girlguiding’s strategy and campaigns. The Advocate panel also act as spokespeople for the organisation in the media, writing quotes, blog posts and articles, speaking in parliament or doing television and radio interviews. Last year, before the pandemic, the group even got a tour of Downing Street!
Lauren says that being an Advocate helps to shape Girlguiding’s programmes and campaigns in a way which makes them as relevant as possible to young girls across the organisation. She says the panel contain a diverse range of members which helps to ensure that the voices of girls from all backgrounds are heard so that they can advocate for each and every one of them when it comes to discussing their interests and concerns, as well as the barriers they face in society today.
Lauren has been involved in Girlguiding since the age of five, as a Rainbow and grew up in the organisation going through Brownies, Guides, Rangers and eventually becoming an Assistant Leader. She says “I’ve always loved being a member of the guiding family and I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life in some form or another! It’s given me so many opportunities to grow and develop as a person, and to help other young women do the same.”
Currently at university in London, Lauren says these roles work well for her as they’re flexible and don’t require her to be based in a single location for a long period of time, but she can’t wait to get back to a unit role as she misses the weekly meetings! She thinks that taking on these roles has given her greater confidence in speaking out about issues which she’s passionate about, developed her leadership skills and shown her the ability that we all possess to instigate change if we put our minds to it. In addition to meeting an amazing group of people who are equally passionate about the guiding community and making friends for life, the roles have allowed her to give back to an organisation which she cares about.
Lauren says “I’ve had the chance to do so many interesting things in guiding, beyond being involved locally, and would encourage anyone who’s interested in engaging more with the organisation at a national level to put themselves forward for these types of roles and opportunities.”
Activity & Challenge Adviser: Georgina Foot
"Giving girls opportunities to do things that they would not normally do helps their confidence and makes them realise that there are lots of options open to them that they may not have considered."
Georgina Foot leads the Activity and Challenge Team for Stockport County, a role she took on when her daughter moved up to Guides and she was asked to join the team. In this role, she organises county events and trains leaders in map reading and walking.
Georgina has a busy work role involving lots of travel but says that this role enables her to be involved without having to commit to weekly meetings, although she still helps units if they are short of a leader.
Georgina said “I love helping girls develop and grow. Being able to give the girls opportunities to do things that they would not normally do helps their confidence and makes them realise that there are lots of options open to them that they may not have considered.”
District Commissioner & DBS Verifier: Tori
“Other volunteers give up their time in order to run the unit meetings, meetings my own daughter goes to and loves, and I, in turn, like to help make things run as smoothly as possible for them. It’s my little way of helping out”
Tori is the Commissioner for Garwick District on the Isle of Man and is also the island’s DBS verifier. Although she was a Brownie, a Guide and then a Ranger and although her fellow Rangers moved into leadership roles, she didn’t feel that was for her. She has never lost touch with the friends she made in guiding and when her daughter turned five and became a Rainbow, they persuaded her to come back and get involved again as District Commissioner! She says “They knew that I was willing to help and they saw the District Commissioner role as the perfect match for my skills”!
When the County Commissioner spotted that she was a whizz using Girlguiding’s membership system, GO, they realised that it was a natural fit to ask Tori to be the DBS Verifier keeping an eye on the island’s DBS applications.
In her role as District Commissioner she is responsible for making sure that all the volunteers in Garwick District hold the correct qualifications and complete things such as A Safe Space and submit their unit accounts on time. She makes sure that each unit has the means to pay their census fee and keeps in touch with them to ensure that their subscriptions are paid on time each year. She represents the District at Executive Committee meetings, raising any queries that volunteers may have and relaying important information back to volunteers. She answers any queries or concerns that volunteers may have and provides assistance if they should need it with things such as GO queries and unit accounts. She also provides a warm welcome to new volunteers, completing recruitment checks and matching them up with units who are needing their help.
As a busy working mum, she says the roles fit around her home and work life because she can log into GO and the DBS system or send emails at any time of day, and although she’s not committed to a specific time each week for a unit meeting but is happy to jump in and attend meetings ad-hoc if cover is needed. She says that she hopes her role takes some of the pressure off the unit volunteers so that they can focus on the girls and providing an amazing experience for each of them on their guiding journey.
Tori says she’s “a sucker for a spreadsheet and correct grammar” and that she enjoys the organisational side of the role, and that it suits her skill set. She enjoys having a task to complete and completing it well, and in doing so she knows that she’s helping the girls have a fantastic experience of guiding, even though she’s not at the unit meetings. She says “Other volunteers give up their time in order to run the unit meetings, meetings my own daughter goes to and loves, and I, in turn, like to help make things run as smoothly as possible for them. It’s my little way of helping.”
Membership Systems Coordinator: Jenny Bowden
"I love to be able to give back to the community. Supporting members in Cumbria North helps me stay busy!"
After being a Brownie and a Guide in her youth, Jenny Bowden was asked to return as a volunteer. She currently holds several administrative roles in Cumbria North County including County GO co-ordinator, County ID Verifier Co-ordinator and also County Awards Co-ordinator.
Jenny supports the county’s Division Commissioners to manage member data on Girlguiding’s membership administration system, GO. She says she deals with a wide range of queries and challenges, but is supported by staff at the region office.
Jenny is retired but loves to stay busy on the computer and says that she feels she’s giving back not only to Girlguiding but to the community. Having a dedicated GO coordinator supports all volunteers, and Jenny says the fact that she’s retired means she can quickly turn around any queries, usually the same day!
Arts Award Adviser and Public Relations Adviser: Maria Bates
"I'm able to keep working with young people, which I love doing, without having to take charge of a whole group. I can keep using skills which I have built up during my working life which otherwise would have gone to waste."
Maria hadn’t thought of volunteering with Girlguiding, but on retiring from teaching, went along to her local volunteering centre where they perked up their ears when Maria told them she had experience of the Arts Award! With her teaching background, she says she “knew how much the girls get out of it and how much it supports their development and their confidence, so I didn’t need much persuasion!”.
She says she was welcomed by the Cumbria South team with great warmth and enthusiasm and that there was no pressure on her to even think about taking over a unit, which is not what she would have wanted.
She thinks the Arts Award is a brilliant opportunity for young people, and supports units and individual girls to progress with the Arts Award at whatever level interests them, taking pressure off unit leaders. She also has experience with publicity and now writes press releases about all of amazing activities, evets and achievements that that happen in Cumbria South. This supports busy unit leaders who would like to see their girls’ achievements in the media but simply haven’t got the time to write press releases themselves.
She says that one of the brilliant aspects of volunteering is that she can do as much or as little as she likes, and although she is retired, she is still ridiculously busy so guiding fits around other commitments.
Maria gets huge satisfaction volunteering with Girlguiding, using skills she’s developed during her working life, and loves being able to keep working with young people, without having to take charge of a whole group. She says “As any retired teacher will tell you, once you have stepped away from the classroom, you miss the kids, but not the responsibility”!
Archivist and Chair of Trefoil Guild: Susan Heyes
“I firmly believe that we should offer our services wherever we can and do whatever we are capable of. We can only ever do our best and Girlguiding offers us the opportunity to do that.”
Susan has been a member of Girlguiding for over 60 years! In May 1960, her father provided a lorry for her sister’s Brownie unit to ride on at the Golden Jubilee celebration at White City in Manchester, and Susan went along. Impressed with what she saw, she said she was going to Guides the following week, and says she’s never looked back!
Susan has held a variety of Girlguiding roles across the region, including being a Brownie Leader, but is currently Archivist for Kendal Division and Cumbria Couth County; and is also the Chair of Kendal Trefoil Guild and also of Cumbria South Trefoil Guild!
It goes without saying as Susan is incredibly proud to be a longstanding member of Girlguiding and being an archivist has meant that she has maintained that membership. She describes being Region Archivist as one of her favourite roles, as it allowed her to go to all the Training Centres, visit Brownsea Island and Gilwell and enabled her to meet up with a lot of like-minded people.
As an archivist, she says she aims to “preserve the present for those who come in the future”, finding appropriate homes for artefacts and books in the County Record Office or in storage in Kendal Division, where she maintains history boxes, including old uniforms, which units can borrow. She also shares her knowledge of guiding history, answering queries or pointing people in the right direction.
Talking about her role as Chair of her local Trefoil Guid, she says “The Trefoil Guild is Guiding for Adults but you don’t have to have been involved in Guiding to join, though most members have been and many still are.” She attends Region meetings and then arranges a meeting of all the county chairs, at which she pass on notices and information from the Board of Trustees in London and from Region. They then plan their own events and hear what is going on locally, as well as helping out Girlguiding friends and colleagues as and when necessary.
She says “As a Trefoil chair I hope I am enabling older people to maintain their Girlguiding links which are often very precious to them. We also hope to provide friendship and fun. I am very aware that many Trefoil members are feeling isolated at this time and we are doing our best to find ways to keep in touch especially with those members who do not use the technology we are so dependent on these days. We do however have a number of 80 year olds who do extremely well!”
My Girlguiding roles have been invaluable to me as a person, and jokes that her hobby appear to be chairing committees but says she developed this skill as a Division Commissioner and especially as Region archivist. She also chairs a local neighbourhood group working closely with local residents and local councillors, and says she could never have done this without the experience she gained through Girlguiding.
Telling us why she volunteers, she said “I firmly believe that we should offer our services wherever we can and do whatever we are capable of. We can only ever do our best and Girlguiding offers us the opportunity to do that.”
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