Young members procedure

How to apply our young members policy

Published: April 2024

Find out more about why we've written this procedure and recent updates to the young members policy.

This procedure explains how to apply our young members policy.

On this page you can find the following information:

Managing your unit waiting list

Once a parent or carer of a girl has registered their interest in joining your unit, you’ll be able to manage their enquiry in our membership system GO.

Take a look at our page on managing your waiting lists for guidance on deciding who has priority to join your unit, and make sure to follow our equality and diversity policy.

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Starting new young members

Once a young member or young volunteer is able to join your unit, update this on GO and give their parent or carer the relevant new starter form to fill out and return to you.

The first page of the new starter form explains how parents and carers can support their child and the volunteers in their unit.

You should work with parents and carers to keep young members’ information up to date on GO. Have a look at our guidance on keeping information up to date in our managing information procedure, and let parents and carers know about our parent and carers’ guide to GO.

Young members aged 14 or over will need to add and update their own details on GO. You still need to give their parent or carer the new starter form for 14-17-year-olds to complete and return.

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Moving between sections

When girls become old enough, they’ll be able to move into the next section of Girlguiding:

  • Rainbows can move up to Brownies aged 7.
  • Brownies can move up to Guides aged 10.
  • Guides can move up to Rangers aged 14.

Once a girl is ready, follow the steps for girls moving up to the next section.

We expect volunteers to make Girlguiding a welcoming and inclusive environment for all by recognising differences and making reasonable adjustments where appropriate. Some disabled young members can find it challenging to move to a new section, so we allow flexibility about the upper age range of each section. Take a look at our guidance on including disabled members for more information.

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Young members’ behaviour

Young members’ behaviour should be in line with Girlguiding’s values, promise and laws. It can be difficult to handle challenging or distressing behaviour in your unit. Take a look at our guidance on behaviour that challenges to help recognise and respond to this behaviour.

In the first instance, talk to the young member and their parent or carer as appropriate about the behaviour expected at unit meetings and work together to find a way forward. If you need extra support, let your local commissioner know. Your commissioner can discuss next steps with you and help support you with any further conversations with the parent or carer.

If the behaviour may be related to a young member’s disability or personal circumstances, you must explore all opportunities to make reasonable adjustments.

Working with the young member and their parent or carer

You can use the adjustment plan for young members to help have a conversation with the young member and their parent or carer about how they prefer to communicate. Ask about what will help them stay calm or avoid behaviour which others may find challenging. Not all behaviour that challenges will be linked to a disability, but you might still find the adjustment plan form helpful.

The adjustment plan will need to be signed off by your local commissioner, and anyone under the age of 18, or under 16 in Scotland, will need it to be signed off by a parent or carer. Once it’s agreed, make sure you plan to review it with the young member and their parent or carer and see how things are going. You might need to then adapt or change the plan, depending on how things go.

Ongoing inappropriate behaviour or behaviour that challenges

You may experience ongoing inappropriate behaviour or behaviour that challenges which doesn’t improve after working with the young member and their parent or carer. You may find that, as a last resort, you need to ask the young member to leave the unit.

If the ongoing behaviour could be related to a young member’s disability, get in touch with your country or region inclusion team, or the HQ inclusion team at [email protected], to get advice on exploring all opportunities for making reasonable adjustments.

If you think it’s necessary to remove a young member from your unit, you must discuss this with your local commissioner so they can help you to decide if this is the only remaining option.

You or your commissioner must have a conversation with the young member’s parent or carer so they understand why this action is being taken. Your commissioner can give you guidance on how to have this conversation, and you might find it helpful to have another member of the unit leadership team present for support. Explain to the parent or carer what adjustments have already been made and how the behaviour hasn’t improved.

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Expectations of parents and carers

Volunteers should feel safe and valued as part of the Girlguiding community. They shouldn’t be subjected to inappropriate behaviour from anyone involved with Girlguiding, including parents and carers.

While parents and carers aren’t subject to Girlguiding’s policies, we still expect them to set a positive example and treat others with respect and dignity. If you experience inappropriate behaviour from a parent or carer, let your local commissioner know so they can support you and help you decide how best to move forward.

Inappropriate behaviour by parents or carers can lead to the young person in their care being asked to leave the unit. This must only be considered as a last resort after you’ve looked at other appropriate options. These might include:

  • If you and your commissioner feel comfortable to do so, having a conversation with the parent or carer to explain our expectations of parents and carers and find a solution.
  • Asking if another parent or carer can drop off and pick up the young member for unit meetings and Girlguiding events.
  • If the concern is about inappropriate communication, enforcing boundaries such as set times and methods of communication.
  • If the concern is related to a conflict with another parent or carer, exploring staggered pick up and drop off times for unit meetings.

Any actions taken must be discussed and agreed with your local commissioner.

If you, another adult volunteer or a young member is being bullied or harassed by a parent or carer, contact the safe practice department at [email protected] for advice in line with our anti-bullying and harassment procedure.

If a parent or carer’s inappropriate behaviour raises a safeguarding concern, follow our safeguarding policy and procedure.

If the parent or carer is also a member of Girlguiding then an investigation may take place into their conduct. This could result in a sanction being placed on their membership. 

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Parental and family disputes

Girlguiding will only get involved with a family dispute when a court order is provided by legal representation.

If a parent or carer tries to involve you in a family dispute, you must explain to them that you can’t get involved. This means you can’t and mustn’t provide any additional statements or evidence about the young member to be used in the dispute.

If you’re asked to do this, or you receive a court order or anything from a legal representative, you must contact the safeguarding team at [email protected]. You can contact your local commissioner for advice and support.

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