Leaving or changing role

What to do if a member wants to move to a new volunteer role, stop volunteering completely, or if a member dies.

Sometimes volunteers might need to step back from their role.

This page covers what to do when: 

Commissioners should give support to anyone who wants to move into a new role or decides to leave guiding. Encourage volunteers in your area to give you plenty of notice for these changes, so together you can make sure everything is handed over.

If someone feels they can't manage in their current role, talk to them about the other roles available. Not every volunteer needs to attend weekly meetings for example. They might prefer to help at events, do meeting minutes or lend a hand with admin.

If they do decide to move on and leave the organisation, take a positive approach and thank them for all the time they've given. Often, changes in personal circumstances - like at work, home or in their family - can mean someone needs a break from volunteering. This kind of change can be hard, so make sure you take time to support them. Don't just focus on making sure there's someone to cover their role. Ask if they want to stay in touch. They might want to come back one day.

What you need to do when a volunteer leaves

When someone leaves, even if it's just taking a break, you need to think about safeguarding and other legal responsibilities.

Our leaving checklist will help you make sure everything is covered.

Once they've stopped volunteering, remove any access they had to personal information and unit accounts. Make sure they can only see information that any member of the public can see. This is in line with our managing information, safeguarding and finance policies, and it protects them from any misunderstandings or allegations.

If a volunteer tells you they're planning to leave, you should:

  • Try to meet up with them to talk about it, particularly if you think leaving might be emotionally charged or difficult. Then follow up by phone or email.
  • Find out why they’re leaving. Ask them if there's any changes or more support that could help them to stay.
  • Ask if they'd like to move to another role – perhaps as a district or division leader to help at events? Do they have other skills they can offer?
  • Thank them in the most appropriate way.
  • Think about their legal responsibilities - such as bank account details and documents, access to GO, and unit records they’re holding, including personal information saved on their devices.
  • Agree dates for getting things finished off or handed over before they leave.

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There's no age when volunteers, including leaders, must retire from Girlguiding. Older volunteers bring many benefits to the organisation by:

  • Making sure that more girls who want to join Girlguiding can.
  • Bringing lots of skills and experience.
  • Mentoring and supporting the next generation of volunteers.
  • Ensuring the continuity and sustainability of Girlguiding.

If you're a leader who's reaching 65 and you're keen to step back from your role, then you shouldn't feel any pressure to keep it up.

Girls get the best experience when the volunteers in their unit are happy to be there. If you no longer want to be a leader, for whatever reason, then speak to your local commissioner. You can work together on a succession plan to find and support a new leader for the unit, to develop existing unit volunteers or to identify places in another unit for all the girls.

If you're over 65 and in guiding, you can continue with your usual activities, including volunteering on residentials. You can also pursue becoming a leader with our leader development programme, if you're not a leader already.

Information for commissioners

If you have concerns about the behaviour of an older adult volunteer you should follow the processes for managing concerns, as you would for a volunteer of any age.

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When a volunteer has their role(s) withdrawn

If a volunteer has breached Girlguiding expectations or failed to comply with restrictions or sanctions, this can result in their role(s) being withdrawn.

If they've been suspended before the withdrawal, many of their responsibilities will have already been handed over, but you might need to formalise this. As the commissioner, you also might need to talk to them and explain their withdrawal. Meet in person, if you can, and be aware that this conversation may be emotionally charged. Find out more about having sensitive conversations on our website.

Speak to the team at HQ who've been managing the investigation. They can help you manage the conversation and know which parts of the leaving checklist you should address. 

You can find out more about the withdrawal process in the managing concerns about adult volunteers procedure.

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What to do when a member dies

You may experience the death of a volunteer, young member or past member in your area. Whether it's sudden or expected, it will be a very difficult time for everyone who knew them. 

If the death has taken place during a Girlguiding activity you’ll need to follow the guidance on what to do after an accident or incident. If the death is expected it may be possible to plan ahead, for example talking with young members about it. 

We also have more information and activities for supporting young people with bereavement. These resources may also be of use when supporting volunteers. 
You should inform the local commissioner of the person who's died who will work with you to think through the practical steps needed as well as making sure leaders and young members have in place emotional support. This will include putting people in touch with others who knew the member as appropriate and signposting to support, and not taking it all on by yourself 

Remember to also allow yourself time for grieving and if the person who's died is close to you, ask another local commissioner for their support.

Things you may want to do as a commissioner include: 

  • Find out about the person and establish the key facts you might want to share.
  • Offer condolences to the family and ask them for permission to let people in their guiding community know.
  • You'll need to end their GO record. To avoid the automated email, contact [email protected] and they’ll stop any automated communications and end the role for you. Please use the subject line ‘Deceased member’ and include their name and membership number.
  • Obtain their guiding service record from HQ to find out who in guiding needs to know. The membership systems team can also provide a guiding history report.
  • Develop a communication plan to let everyone know, making sure that the person's closest contacts are notified first. If the person has service in other counties or regions, you can ask HQ for help getting in touch.
  • If they were active in a unit, or were active until recently, you‘ll need to consider the impact on young members. You’ll need to directly tell the parents and then the girls. Support for helping girls with bereavement can be found on our website and, to help with the grieving process, we have bereavement activities too.
  • Establish a plan for any impacted units. They might need additional volunteer support or even close for a while if other leaders aren’t available.
  • Be flexible, compassionate and patient with their relatives and friends when it comes to asking them to return any guiding items.
  • If appropriate, share any funeral arrangements when they're known. Consider whether people from Girlguiding should go in uniform.
  • You might want to buy flowers for people who were close to the member or make a donation. If you decide to raise funds for a donation you'll need to make it clear where the money is going. You may find it helpful to read our fundraising policy.
  • If the chosen charity is Girlguiding, make sure it's spent as per the person's wishes, and then share the details with those who knew them and the family. If there's nothing specific, think about something that would be meaningful to the individual based on their guiding role, hold a celebration, create or do a badge or award, or plant a tree, for example.
  • The public fundraising team have lots of experience in dealing with the death of a volunteer from a fundraising point of view. If you'd like to speak to a member of the team about anything in this area, please email them on [email protected].
  • If they were a volunteer, consider that there should be two other signatories on any bank account. You might need a copy of the death certificate to be able to change signatories.