Hello and welcome to another Chiefs’ Chat!
We hope you’re all doing well and are staying safe, as we move on to the next stages of government guidelines. It has been great to see the positivity continue as we all adjust. In this month’s Chiefs’ Chat, we’re sharing what we've been doing to keep busy and engaged with guiding over the past few months.
My school was the first to close following a confirmed coronavirus case on Thursday 12 March. Since then I have been into school regularly, working as part of the hub for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers. It feels like ages ago since life first began to change!
It was my mum’s birthday on 29 March and my husband’s on 30 March. I remember saying that we would have a big party on my birthday instead; well that came and went in May and we were still in lockdown, and now, as I write this, my eldest daughter’s birthday is coming up in July and life is still not as normal. There is always next year, where, hopefully, we can celebrate as we normally would!
It’s been a long time since we have been in school in any sort of normal way and I don’t think anyone ever imagined that we would still be in this position now, at the end of what would have been the school year; it has been a challenging time for all of us. I have attended several county events, virtually, of course, and it has been great to ‘meet’ so many of our volunteers who are just as committed despite the circumstances. A huge ‘Thank You’ to all of you for what you have done over this whole time to keep Girlguiding going, in whatever small or large way - often whilst juggling the demands of key worker roles, home schooling children, caring for other family members, working from home, shielding... the list goes on, but whatever the personal circumstances, I hope that we can all get back together soon. Plans are underway now to start the process of returning to guiding within government guidelines and hopefully this continues, and we don’t have to have any local lockdowns. But, of course, everyone’s safety is the most important thing, so keep safe, be well, and see you all soon!
Just before lockdown, my children held a surprise early birthday dinner for me. On the first weekend of March we went to visit our eldest daughter and, on the Saturday, went out to dinner with her – the rest of our family were waiting for us at the restaurant which was such a lovely surprise! We have reflected on what a lovely evening it was during our regular family zoom meetings. If we’d have waited until my actual birthday, we would have been in lockdown and it wouldn’t have happened – so I feel quite grateful that I was able to celebrate my birthday before the chaos. For all those all those whose birthdays have come and gone during the lockdown, I hope you were able to do something special given the circumstances, and I hope your next birthday is even more special.
I have been going into work every day as I work in financial services, providing a key service. As part of the core team, I have been making sure front-line teams can continue to offer the facilities needed by our customers. Being classed as key worker, I still don’t feel I am in the same league as my eldest daughter, who is a doctor in Swansea. She’s been working in hospital throughout the pandemic; the hours have been long, and I suspect it’s been more challenging than we can imagine.
As for guiding, I think I have had far more meetings than I usually would have if I was to travel to them all! The opportunities offered by virtual meetings have been incredible and have allowed a wide range of volunteers to contribute to some challenging and tough decisions. We have also seen more training on-line, and we have shown that as members, we will always adapt and find a way to achieve whatever we need to!
I am very much looking forward to the next phase of lockdown – coming out of it, that is – and finding yet more ways to give girls and young women the opportunities only we can!
If anything, lockdown has become even quieter for me over the past few weeks, which I didn’t think could be possible! I’m still not back at work and with the university year having come to an end, guiding really has been the only thing keeping me busy.
My Brownies and Guides have still been loving our virtual meetings - some favourites include the bring a pet night, virtual games, room in a box and lockdown time capsules. I think our baking night has been my favourite meeting, but perhaps that’s just because there was only one lot of mess to tidy up, and that was my own! We’ve got lots of badges to deliver now, at the end of term, not least the Together at Heart badge which was designed by Pippa from Girlguiding Wirral. I think the badge perfectly captures the positives of lockdown - community, kindness and thankfulness, and is a great way to say thank you to key workers and our volunteers during the pandemic.
One ‘key worker’ who I think deserves a special mention is Matilda from 5th Lancaster Guides, who I recently presented a very well-deserved Region President’s Award to. She has so far sewn around 2000 masks for the people of Lancaster, and at the same time raised a fantastic amount of money for her local food bank. As someone who is passionate about social action, I was so pleased to see her project grow and grow, and I know just how great an impact Matilda will have had on her community - so well done, Matilda! And the biggest of thank yous is to all key workers and volunteers for everything you’ve done and continue to do during this time!
We hope you enjoyed catching up with us. As always, you can find us on Twitter where you can ping us if you have any questions or to simply share all the incredible work that you are doing.
Julie, Kathryn, and Emma.