Getting started as a volunteer

What to expect once you've registered your interest in volunteering

Welcome to Girlguiding. We’re so glad you’re thinking of joining us

Thanks to you, we’ll be able to help even more girls know they can do anything. And we hope that you’ll enjoy everything guiding has to offer too.  

Here you'll find out what happens once you've registered your interest  to become a volunteer. But first, who better to welcome you and tell you all about Girlguiding than girls themselves? 

Group of girls together: Welcome to Girlguiding!

Girls taking turns saying sentences: Thanks for joining. Thank you! Thank you! You're making a huge, massive, ginormous impact to lots of girls lives. We've made this film to tell you everything you need to know. Get ready to try lots of new things, learn new skills and become part of a worldwide movement – a community ... community!

[Girl holds up sign: About Girlguiding]

Girls taking turns saying sentences: Girlguiding has been around since 1910 and we're the largest organisation for women and girls in the country. We have more than half a million members just like you. Our mission: whoever they are, wherever they're from, girls and young women can do amazing things and you give them that chance. And who better to tell you all about it than this lot?

Brownie: Cut!

[Bell rings, film crew made up of girls is getting the set ready for the next shot]

Rainbow: Test, test, test.

Guide: But this isn't your usual induction film.

Guide: This is our film.

Brownie: And we're calling the shots!

[Brownie holding up sign: The Structure of Girlguiding]

Brownie: Chapter 1: the structure of Girlguiding.

[Clapperboard claps shut]

Brownie: Action!

Brownie: So tell us about the structure of Girlguiding.

Leader: Well, when a volunteer starts they become part of our UK-wide network and part of a local unit.

Brownie: What's a unit?

Leader: A unit is a group of either Rainbows, Brownies, Guides or members of The Senior Section who meet together with their leadership team on a regular basis for Girlguiding activities.

Brownie: Cut!

Rainbow: When I'm not recording sound I'm in Rainbows and we play lots of fun games.

Brownie I'm a Brownie and I get to go on lots of trips.

Guide: I'm a Guide and I love adventure.

Member of The Senior Section: I'm in The Senior Section and we get to learn skills for life.

Brownie: Action!

Leader: Units are led by group of volunteers called leadership team.

[Animation showing the structure of Girlguiding]

Voiceover: Different units are grouped locally into districts and each district has a commissioner. You can go to your commissioner if you have a question or a problem. Districts are grouped into divisions and each division has its own commissioner too - they are also there to support you. Depending on the size of the area though some places have either districts or divisions but not both. Divisions are grouped into counties which also have commissioners, who look after all the volunteers in the county. Groups of counties make up countries and regions, which have chief commissioners. As well as the nine countries and regions in the UK we also have British Girlguiding Overseas and branch associations and other British territories. The volunteer who oversees all of Girlguiding is the Chief Guide.

Leader: We're part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Leader: They represent 10 million girls and young women in 146 countries.

Rainbow: Wow!

[Two girls holding up a sign each: Chapter Two, Behaviours]

Brownie: Chapter 2: behaviours. Action!

[Clapperboard claps shut]

Brownie: What's a promise?

Leader: The Promise is what brings everyone in guiding together and girls as well as volunteers make a shared commitment to do their best.

Leader: Our promise linked us to the other Girlguiding members in the UK and the 10 million other people involved in the movement across the world.

Brownie: Which is the Code of Conduct?

Leader: As a Girlguiding volunteer you have a responsibility to support girls and young women to reach their potential through providing a range of great guiding experiences. So it's really important that you as a volunteer have an understanding of what that means. This is Girlguiding's expectation of how you work with others. By following it you can check that you are doing the right thing and behaving in the right way.

[Brownie shows thumbs up]

Brownie: Which are the Five Essentials?

Leader: We have a programme of activities packed full of opportunities where we can lead, learn and discover with the girls.

Leader: Our activities include badges and challenges to inspire and ignite girls imaginations.

Leader: The programme is structured around five key elements known as the Five Essentials, which support the development of our members.

[Girl points out on camera that leader’s hair is covering parts of her face]

Brownie: Can we do something about hair please?

Leader: Sorry.

Brownie: Thank you!

Leader: We believe in the value of learning by doing and the Five Essentials put this into practice.

Member of The Senior Section: You can view the Five Essentials on our website.

[Two girls holding up a sign each: Chapter three, Volunteer roles]

Voiceover: Chapter 3: volunteer roles.

[Clapperboard claps]

Brownie: Action!

Brownie: What volunteer roles are there?

Leader: There's a huge range of flexible volunteer roles available to fit you and your interests.

Leader: Every hour counts and any skill set can help empower girls. Our volunteers can do anything from administrators, treasurers, leaders and unit helpers and so much more.

Leader: There are all sorts of learning and development opportunities available for volunteers. You can train up to become a leader, or a mentor, or a trainer. Then there's a whole range of qualifications that you can work towards. So the Going Away With license, the walking scheme, narrow boating qualifications, abseiling qualifications...There's a whole different mixture of things available to you.

Group of girls: Cool!

Brownie: Cut! That's a wrap!

[Girls jumping up]

Group of girls: Yeah!

Group of girls taking turns saying sentences: So, we would like to thank you so much for joining our movement. You are helping girls find their voice, discover the best in themselves and make a difference...make a difference...make a difference!

All together: We hope you enjoy it!

I've registered my interest, what next? 

1. We'll be in touch

A local volunteer will be in touch shortly after you register. They’ll aim to do this within a week, but it can take longer. They'll be your main contact at the start and are there to support you and help you find the best role for you. They'll provide you with key contacts, information and resources. 

2. Visit a unit 

Units are local Girlguiding groups. If you plan to volunteer with girls, ask your local contact about going on a taster visit to a unit meeting (either where you hope to volunteer, or somewhere else). It's a great way to get an idea of how meetings are run, talk to other volunteers and pick up activity tips and ideas. 

3. Reference and criminal record disclosure checks 

To keep our members safe, anyone over 18 who wants to volunteer for Girlguiding must complete the recruitment and vetting process relevant to the role they're applying for. This includes reference checks and could include criminal record disclosure checks. 

You’ll need to complete a criminal record disclosure check if your role involves regular contact or staying overnight at a residential event with girls and young women. 

Your local volunteer contact will be in touch about the criminal record disclosure checks if they're needed for your role. 

Take a look at our recruitment and vetting procedures if you'd like to know more about the checks we make. This unit volunteer roles PDF also shows which unit volunteer roles require criminal record disclosure checks, as well as the training you'll need.

4. Training

As well as these checks, for most roles you'll need to complete some training designed to help keep our members safe (called a safe space), which you can do on our learning platform. Find out how to use our learning platform to do the training. If you've just created your GO account, you may need to wait a few hours before you can access the learning platform.

How do I claim expenses?

Guiding should never leave you out of pocket. Check our guidance on claiming expenses here. 

Who else can support me? 

There are so many friendly faces waiting to welcome and support you. 

Unit  volunteers

If your role is in a unit, then the other volunteers there will be able to provide you with help and support. They'll be your main everyday contacts after the joining process has finished. 


Commissioners are volunteers in your area who are there to support other volunteers like you. You can find out who your commissioner is by logging into GO and clicking on the My communications panel. And you can talk to them if you have any concerns that aren’t related to your regular unit meetings. And they can help you try out a different unit if you don’t think yours is the right fit for you, or talk to you about other flexible volunteer roles you can get involved with.

Your buddy 

Lots of units operate a buddy system for new volunteers. A buddy is an existing volunteer who’ll help you settle in. They’re a great person to be in touch with in the early days.  

Buddies are there to offer advice and support as well as listen and share experiences. They may be volunteering in the same group as you, or might help with the same age group or in a similar role elsewhere. You could meet up for a coffee or just chat over the phone, text or email. 

If you’d like a buddy and haven’t been appointed one yet, talk to your local volunteer team. 

What's next?

By volunteering with Girlguiding, you’re helping all girls know they can do anything. And there are also loads of opportunities for personal development. As you continue on your volunteer journey through guiding, check out our information on your progression as a volunteer for more ideas on what you could get up to next.

More resources to help you along the way

  • You’ll receive an email shortly after joining inviting you to create a GO account. GO is our membership system and will help with lots of important information, like updating your personal details or finding out who your commissioner is. See our guidance on how to use GO as a volunteer.
  • The volunteer section of our website is your one stop shop for all things guiding. It'll help you with everything from finding the right forms and resources, to practical ideas and guidance for your role in guiding.