27 Feb 2012 - Membership figures increase 2012


EMBARGOED UNTIL: 00.01 27 February 2012

Girlguiding grows by one an hour


  • Girlguiding remains biggest youth organisation in the UK
  • Membership increases by 24 every day, one every hour
  • Total membership stands at well over half a million
  • Membership offers unrivalled experiences for girls and young women

New membership figures from Girlguiding reveal that the organisation grew by one member every hour in the past 12 months. Total membership now stands at 538,247, up from 530,000 last year. The increase – 8,247 in the past year – shows that Girlguiding is where more girls are choosing to be, with hundreds of thousands of girls and young women each week enjoying guiding. This week three young members will travel to New York to attend the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women; next month thousands of Guides will watch top pop acts like Olly Murs and Alexandra Burke at the BIG GIG; later this year Girlguiding’s team of Front Runners will inspire girls and young women to get involved with the Olympic celebrations, far removed from the outdated stereotypes of the Guides.

To celebrate Girlguiding’s growth, the organisation has selected 24 ‘Guiding Lights’ – girls and women from around the UK who epitomise what guiding is today. One of the Guiding Lights was awarded the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Young Member of the Year award for her voluntary work to promote engineering, while another started her business at 22 and was selected as one of 20 up and coming young designers.

Research by Girlguiding has shown that girls appreciate the opportunity that guiding offers to spend time with ‘just the girls’, with many citing it as a welcome space to be themselves, away from some of the pressures of everyday teenage life.

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said: “Guiding remains one of the only spaces where girls and young women can be adventurous, learn new skills, have their opinions heard and gain leadership skills outside of school, without feeling they have to conform to a set of narrow stereotypes.

“Guiding also offers our young members some amazing experiences, from the excitement of their first Brownie campout to working in countries such as The Gambia and Honduras on international development projects. With opportunities like this it is no wonder girls are voting with their feet and joining us.”

~ ENDS ~


For more information please contact:


Kim Sanders


020 7592 1733



Rosie Warin


020 7403 2230

Notes to editors:

About Girlguiding

Girlguiding is the UK’s largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women, with 538, 247 members and recognised volunteers. Over a third of girls and young women (aged 7–21) in the UK are involved in guiding, or have been in the past. We run Rainbows (5–7 years), Brownies (7–10 years), Guides (10–14 years) and Senior Section (14–25 years), enabling girls and young women to develop their potential whatever their ability or background. We are striving to offer new opportunities to a broad diversity of communities through our expanding network of more than 63,000 trained volunteer Leaders.

At Girlguiding we seek to give girls a voice and provide a unique, girl-only space where they feel comfortable just being themselves. Our members, challenged by a girl-led programme that extends beyond badges, enjoy a spectrum of activities from international travel and outdoor adventure to pop-concerts and community action.

Girlguiding, part of a worldwide movement of approximately 10 million girls and young women in 145 countries, celebrated its Centenary in 2010.  Registered Charity No 306016, www.girlguiding.org.uk


24 Surprising Facts About Girlguiding

1.     They accept men! You can’t be a Brownie or a Guide if you’re a boy, but men can be adult volunteers.

2.     Ally Capellino, whose clients include Kate Moss and Sadie Frost, designed the current guiding uniform.

3.     It’s the largest youth organisation in the UK.

4.     Half of women in the UK have been a member, a small minority of which will claim they were ‘chucked out’ of Brownies for being ‘too naughty’. This rarely – if ever – happens. Girlguiding volunteers are trained to work with girls who have different personalities, some with complex and demanding emotional needs – including naughtiness. 

5.     Guides started themselves. When Baden-Powell was asked who started the Girl Guides he replied: “They started themselves”. Having seen how much fun the boys were having, the girls decided they wanted the same.

6.     All Leaders are volunteers. People – often parents - assume Girlguiding Leaders are paid, they aren’t. All their time and experience is given for free. And people assume volunteers have to commit an hour a week, every week, but guiding’s volunteering roles are not fixed and are extremely varied, from occasionally helping to run a group’s activities to looking after the accounts.

7.     They founded a school for physically disabled children in 1939 – The Trefoil School – for which there was no counterpart in mainstream education for decades.

8.     Guides helped win the war. Guides – 87 in total - were confidential messengers for Marconi and Wireless Telegraph during the First World War. During the Second World War Guides helped distribute gas masks, met evacuees from trains, helped maintain food supplies as well as raising £50,000 for two air ambulances and £26,000 to equip and maintain carrier pigeons for the army.

9.     The Brownies have also helped out in times of national and international crisis. They collected clothes for the miners hit by the General Strike of 1926 and in 1985 raised a staggering £179,000 for Save the Children.

10.  In 2009, members raised more than £850,000 for a diverse range of charities as part of the Changing the World project. Beneficiaries included the Mental Health Foundation, Asthma UK, the Woodland Trust and Barnados.

11.  It’s worldwide. The guiding movement has more than 10 million members in 145 countries, from the Congo to Papua New Guinea.

12.  Over a third of girls and young women aged seven to 21 in the UK are involved in guiding, or have been in the past. That includes some famous faces such as Pixie Lott, Kate Silverton, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, JK Rowling, Davina McCall and Dame Kelly Holmes. 

13.  You would need 9,127 double decker buses to carry all of Girlguiding’s members.

14.  And they could fill Wembley Stadium more than six times.

15.  Two teams of Girlguiding members have swum the English Channel. The first team set the record for the fastest all-female team when they completed it in just over 13 hours (1966), and the second team undertook the challenge in 2010.

16.  In 2009, Girlguiding members took 8,681 people out of water poverty in Nepal as part of the Changing the World project.

17.  To celebrate Girlguiding’s Centenary in 2009-2010, members sailed the tall ship Lord Nelson on a 100-day voyage around the UK.

18.  Girlguiding’s Women in the Lead survey of 250 inspirational UK figures found that two-thirds of them had been a Brownie, Guide or Senior Section member. Of these, 73 per cent believed that guiding had directly contributed to their success.

19.  In 2007, Girlguiding members made up the first fully female crew to take part on a Class A Tall Ship in the Tall Ships’ Race.

20.  Some of the early Guide badges included Electrician, Telegraphist, Astronomer, Surveyor and Air Mechanic. 

21.  Badges aren’t all there is to guiding. Guides and Brownies still collect badges, however the guiding programme extends to much more, from international travel to outdoor adventures and challenges covering a wide range of topics including engineering and construction to fashion and body confidence.

22.  In 1909 a publication decreed that ‘a girl is not allowed to run, or even to hurry, swim, ride a bike, or raise her arms above her head…’but just one year later, girls in guiding were heading off to camp where they could raise their arms as high as they liked!

23.  It is not just Brownies and Guides. Brownies and Guides are the most famous sections. However, Rainbows (aged five to seven) are part of the guiding family, and so are the Senior Section (aged 14 to 25).

24.  They accept all faiths, cultures, backgrounds and abilities – and always have. Robert Baden-Powell’s vision was to create a common framework of activities and attitudes that would unite all.

Guiding has had a positive impact on girls' lives for the past 100 years.