Young members policy

The benefits and expectations of being a member of Girlguiding

Published: April 2024

Version 2

Find out what's changed and why in the most recent updates to this policy.

Policy aims and purpose

This policy sets out Girlguiding’s position on young members.

It explains:

  • Who young membership is open to, and what to do when starting young members.
  • Managing unit waiting lists.
  • Making reasonable adjustments and our approach to flexible transitions between sections.
  • Managing inappropriate behaviour from young members, or their parent or carers.
  • Girlguiding’s involvement in family legal disputes.
  • Our expectations for volunteers.

This policy applies to all volunteers. It’s important you read this policy and the procedure that goes with it.


  • Young member – anyone who’s a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or Ranger, or a volunteer aged under 18 in any role, for example a young leader.
  • Parent or carer – the person who has legal responsibility for the young member. This includes those who act as guardians.
  • Leader – a volunteer who’s responsible for running the unit, leading a team and helping to plan and deliver unit activities and events.
  • Unit leadership team – the unit leader and the adult volunteers who support them in running the unit. This could include assistant leaders and unit helpers.
  • Commissioner – a volunteer manager including country, region, county, division or district level.
  • Inappropriate behaviour – includes harmful behaviour like bullying and harassment, unsafe behaviour, as well as behaviour which is disruptive to an activity or others. Relational conflict isn’t considered to be inappropriate behaviour, unless it’s ongoing and unable to be resolved.
  • Behaviour that challenges – behaviour that’s challenging for others or themselves to manage and can cause distress to themselves or others. Behaviour that challenges isn’t necessarily inappropriate behaviour, though if it continues despite reasonable adjustments, it could be.

Policy statement

Starting young members

Young membership is open to any girl or young woman aged from 4 to 19, though as a reasonable adjustment only, we can be flexible on the upper age range. Before welcoming a young member or young volunteer to the unit, volunteers must follow our guidance.

Volunteers must make sure that a young member joins a unit of the appropriate section. This is so the young member follows a suitable programme for their age. Find out more in our starting new young members guidance.

Volunteers should encourage parents or carers to put their personal details on our membership system (‘GO’). Parents or carers, or volunteers, should update them if things change.

Waiting lists

If the chosen unit doesn’t have a space, the young member’s name will be added to the waiting list. Spaces must be offered in line with our managing your waiting list guidance.

Flexible transitions between sections

We expect volunteers to make Girlguiding a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. This means recognising differences and making reasonable adjustments where appropriate. See our equality and diversity policy for more information.

As a reasonable adjustment only, Girlguiding can be flexible on the upper age range of each section. Please see our adjustments for disabled members page for further information.

Young members’ behaviour

We invite all young members to make the promise. The unit leadership team should work with young members to prepare unit guidelines. This is so everyone understands how they should behave with one another.

In cases of behaviour that challenges, or inappropriate behaviour from a young member, the unit leadership team must work with the young member and their parents or carers to try to find a mutually agreed solution. Volunteers must consider the circumstances of the young member and whether any reasonable adjustments could help.

Take a look at our behaviour that challenges page for more information.

Girlguiding doesn’t tolerate ongoing inappropriate behaviour from young members. If a resolution can't be found, as a last resort, the unit leadership team may remove the young member from the unit. The unit leadership team must discuss and agree possible actions and solutions with their local commissioner before doing so. They’ll also need to explain to the parent or carer why this action is being taken.

Please see the young members procedure for more information.

Expectations of parents or carers

Girlguiding has a duty of care to our volunteers. We have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment. Inappropriate behaviour (including bullying and harassment) from parents or carers towards volunteers, other parents or carers, or young members may lead to withdrawal of membership from the young person in their care.

Please see the young members procedure for more information.

Family legal disputes

Girlguiding will only get involved with a family legal dispute when a court order is provided by legal representation. If so, we'll only communicate with the parent or carer with legal responsibility for the young member, as recorded on our membership system.

If a volunteer is asked to be involved in a family legal dispute, with or without a court order, or if they have a safeguarding concern, they must contact the HQ safeguarding team.

If parents or carers have joint responsibility for a young member, it's vital that this information is recorded with the young members contact details. This includes the details of the parent or carer who should be contacted in an emergency.

Volunteers should work with parents or carers to keep this information up to date. Volunteers must ensure that we hold the correct information on our membership system.

Safety and safeguarding

Girlguiding has personal accident and public liability insurance policies. These cover all young members while they’re taking part in guiding activity. This doesn’t include overseas trips. If you have a safeguarding concern, you must make a report within 24 hours, or as soon as possible if it’s an emergency.


All volunteers must:

  • Follow the correct process for starting new young members. This includes joining a unit of the appropriate section.
  • Offer spaces in units in line with our managing your waiting list guidance.
  • Make reasonable adjustments where appropriate.
  • Work with young members and their parents or carers to find a mutually agreed solution to their inappropriate behaviour. Young members must only be removed from a unit as a last resort, and only because of inappropriate behaviour on their part, or their parents or carers.
  • Report any safeguarding concerns in line with our safeguarding policy.
  • Never get involved in any family legal disputes without a court order.
  • Contact the HQ safeguarding team if you receive a court order or anything from a legal representative.