A welcome return to face-to-face guiding and appeal for volunteers

22 April 2021

As Covid-19 restrictions gradually lift, Girlguiding, the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women is celebrating the return to face-to-face guiding and the exciting prospect of having adventures indoors and outdoors together again.

For many girls it will be just over a year since they last met face-to-face and a welcome return after months of lockdown and meeting together online. Guiding is providing an invaluable role during this unprecedented time, supporting girls’ mental health and wellbeing during and as we recover from the pandemic, helping to build confidence, have fun and develop skills for their future - which has now never been more needed.

Girlguiding, with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery will continue to provide a blended offer as restrictions ease, to include indoor, outdoor and online guiding opportunities, creating lots of flexibility for both girls and volunteers.

Similarly, to other youth sector charities the pandemic has had a significant impact on Girlguiding, both regionally and nationally, with a 30% overall membership dip since 2020, which is largely linked to a significant decrease in young members joining during the pandemic year. In the last year sadly around 121,000 young people have dropped out of guiding and 18,721 volunteers have left their roles due to the pressure of Covid-19 and personal situations, leaving some groups on the brink of closure. This is especially the case in communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic such as Cymru, North West and South West England and Ulster.   

With the increasing need to support girls now, Girlguiding is appealing for volunteers to help girls and young women through the recovery, providing opportunities for them to have fun, learn new skills and support their wellbeing, whilst enriching their own lives.

Girlguiding relies on volunteers to run local groups in communities across the UK and is and is launching a targeted recruitment campaign seeking to motivate volunteers to join where they are needed most.

Two out of every three members has stayed with Girlguiding during an extremely challenging time, an achievement made possible by the support of its amazing volunteers keeping girls connected during the pandemic by delivering virtual guiding (and face-to-face when restrictions allowed). 

Angela Salt OBE, Girlguiding CEO says: “It is wonderful that we can now see a return to face-to-face guiding after what has undoubtedly been a challenging year. The impact the pandemic has had on all young people will not disappear overnight, and guiding and other youth organisations have a hugely important role to play in recovery and continuing to support young people by providing a constant in their world.”

“We encourage adults to join the guiding community as volunteers; the benefits of volunteering are fantastic – from meeting new people, to gaining skills and knowing that you are making a positive contribution to the lives of girls and young women, at a crucial time.”

Throughout the past year Girlguiding has continued to support and keep girls and young women motivated, inspired and thriving whilst at home with its virtual guiding offer. The charity responded to the pandemic in a matter of days, launching its Adventures at home online hub of activities open to all children and their families across the UK, to help them continue to have fun, build resilience and support their wellbeing. And units turned to virtual guiding to continue supporting girls and keep them connected during lockdown and beyond.  

Girlguiding estimates over 188,000 individual girls (over three quarters of members) have taken part in a virtual meeting since the start of the pandemic. The digital divide and other economic factors however have stopped many young people from taking part in guiding. Often these are the young people that have needed guiding the most, leaving many isolated and lonely.

As recognised in research by girls and young women, group activities and youth clubs have helped them cope throughout the pandemic. Girls say that being part of Girlguiding during the pandemic has helped them to feel more connected and less lonely (65%), be able to help others (31%) and supported their mental health and wellbeing (47%).