Meeting places and times
Choose the right venue and meeting time for the girls in your area when you open a new unit
An important consideration for opening – or reopening – a unit is where and when to meet.
There are lots of practical things to think about when deciding when and where to hold your unit meeting. It's best to get this organised as early as possible as this will need to be decided before you get everything else in place.
Your choice of location may be limited if you're in a small community. In busier areas, there may be a number of places you can compare for price, availability and suitability.
You must also consider safety: is the area well lit? Is there safe parking? Is the room or building you’re using secure? Is the venue used by other groups at the same time? Bring someone along when you visit potential meeting places – two heads are better than one.
Where should I look?
Ask your commissioner about where other groups meet, so you can be close to or share venues with them, but bear in mind that cheaper or more suitable venues may be available too. Check out a few places to make sure you get the best deal for the unit.
What should you look for?
- Space – you need a hall or room with enough space to play games.
- Facilities – toilets and somewhere girls can wash their hands.
- Furniture – enough tables and chairs for all girls and adults to use if possible.
- Accessibility – for members with disabilities or additional needs.
- General access – somewhere easy and safe for girls and leaders to get to with safe parking.
- Availability – somewhere available for most of the year. Take note of days, weeks or times of the year when it will not be available. Check that you can get access before and after the meeting time to allow setting up and clearing away.
- Not many restrictions – find out about restrictions on the types of activity that can take place.
- Cost and deposit – if there is a charge for using the premises, you should consider if the cost is affordable and sustainable. Check if you have to pay a deposit.
- Other tenants – ask if other groups will be meeting at the venue at the same time. Find out who the groups are as the type of group may impact on your decision. For example, a noisy dance class in the next room could be quite disruptive.
Some other things to think about:
- Outdoor space – access to a safe area for activities.
- Kitchen facilities – for cooking and making refreshments.
- Storage – lockable space for equipment and resources.
Once you've found a venue, make sure you review any hire agreements, check the venue has public liability insurance and, if necessary, provide them with a copy of Girlguiding’s public liability certificate.
It's also a good idea to complete your unit risk assessments once you know where you will be meeting. Making these location specific will help with overall planning and how you choose your activities.
When should we meet?
Timing is important. Think through the following:
- Ask girls who are waiting to join the new unit what they think about the day and time.
- When schools in the area finish and how far they are from the venue. Generally you need to allow enough time for girls to go home, have a snack and get changed before coming to your meeting.
- Other activities that are available for young people in your area and what days they take place. If there are a lot of after-school activities, or girls travel out of the area for school, then a Saturday or Sunday meeting might be more appropriate.
- How the meeting time works for parents.
- Members from a specific cultural or religious background who are living in the area. You may want to arrange meeting times to reflect their needs.
- What timings work for other local units.
- Make sure the meeting doesn’t finish too late for younger girls – remember that they have to travel home and get ready for bed.
- When volunteers can get to the meeting place to prepare and set up activities.
- Remember, you can meet on weekends, and as a holiday group, too.
Linking with other units
Making close ties with other units means you can support each other and share good ideas. It also helps girls stay in Girlguiding for longer. Close links mean you can support them to move sections, and help other units fill spaces.
For example, if you’re setting up a Brownie unit, holding it in the same venue as a Guide unit, either at the same time – if there’s space – or directly beforehand will help give girls, and parents, an easy move up to the next section. There may also be a chance to hold joint events and activities and for volunteers to get involved in both.
Have a look at our guidance on making units more flexible to help girls stay with us for longer.