Inspirational volunteer recognised for inclusion work

Girlguiding volunteer, Louise Helsby, 24, is being recognised for the inclusion work she has been driving within Girlguiding North West England.

Girlguiding North West England has recently launched ‘Life After Guiding Idols…’ – a campaign taking place during Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June 2019), to reflect on previous recipients of the Guiding Idol award which recognised the significant contribution of its volunteers.

In June 2018, Louise was presented with the award for her inclusion work in units in Cheshire, specifically supporting members with disabilities and/or additional needs.

Since then, the recently appointed Inclusion Adviser has introduced Makaton in a local Brownie unit so that pre-verbal members can join in. Her work with this unit has resulted in them receiving an award from the Warrington Disability Partnership.

In her own Rainbow unit, Louise has effectively supported two young members with disabilities who previously found it difficult to make friends but who now have a group of friends that support them every step of the way.

She also worked hard to support a Rainbow, who is a wheelchair user, to attend unit meetings without the requirement of her PA for 1:1 support.  

Louise shared: “She joins in, socialises with the other girls and, most importantly, the other girls are able to meet most of her needs without any adult support. She also recently attended a unit sleepover, something which was a whole new experience for her. She took the whole event in her stride, really coming out of her shell and turning out to be one of the loudest Rainbows we have.”

Louise is also passionate about ensuring Girlguiding’s programme is accessible to members with additional needs and spreads her drive beyond her young members, encouraging other leaders to make changes so that more young people can get involved.

She shared: “The adaptations should occur so that nobody realises that they have happened. This removes any stigma about a child being different and ensures that they can complete the same activity as others. It supports acceptance because the other girls can see that they can participate in activities just as much.”

Julie Walton, Region Chief Commissioner, said: “It’s great to be able to catch up with volunteers and see how far they have come since receiving their award. We appreciate all of the hard work and effort they put into Girlguiding. A simple thank you goes a very long way and gives our volunteers the confidence to go for new roles and embrace their volunteering journey – changing lives along the way.”