What to do when a member dies

How to handle the death of a Girlguiding member

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.

What to do if you’re a leader

If the death has taken place during a Girlguiding activity you will need to follow the major incident guidance. 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 whose 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 has died is close to you, ask another local commissioner for their support.

What to do if you’re a commissioner

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 will 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 persons 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 this webpage 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 are 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 will 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 is spent as per the persons wishes, and then share the details with those who knew them and the family. If there is 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 would like to speak to a member of the team about anything in this area, please drop the team a 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.