As the world adapted so did Girlguiding

When Covid-19 took the world into lockdown, virtual platforms took over. We spoke to Jill Webb, Lead Volunteer for Safeguarding, about what that meant for providing a safe space for all our members

Jill Webb, Lead Volunteer for Safeguarding
06 October 2020

In common with many other organisations, as Girlguiding went into lockdown we relied more on virtual platforms.

More and more activities began to move online including virtual unit meetings, training and girl events. Some fab stuff has been going on! In the world of safeguarding, it was really important that we kept up to speed with all of this to keep all our volunteers and girls safe. The first thing we did was to ensure that our digital safeguarding policy was updated. It was great to work with other volunteers on this to make sure the policy was robust but easy to understand.

We also developed permission forms for girls taking part in meetings virtually so that parents could be reassured of all the safeguards. Leaders have been grateful for this too as it also protected them.

Continuing learning online 

In Girlguiding we always put girls first, but before long our next focus was on our leaders and other volunteers.

Before lockdown we were working hard to rollout the A Safe Space training programme. Safeguarding training has been a part of Girlguiding for many years. Three years ago, we realised that there was a need (and desire) for a new programme of training to suit all the various volunteer roles, dependant on how much or little contact they had with girls. All our volunteers, regardless of their role, have to complete Level 1 as this gives practical advice on our policy and what to do if you are worried about a member. Late last year we revised the e-learning for both the Level 1 and 2 training. E-learning has always been an option for these trainings and is still available as face-to-face training. We added a quiz to the end of each e-learning which meant that volunteers in lockdown could continue to keep themselves updated.

Alongside this, within a few weeks of lockdown it became clear from messages we were hearing from other agencies how important safeguarding was going to be post Covid-19. A number of countries who were already easing lockdown restrictions had seen a growth in the concerns around children’s safety.

So, we wanted to make sure we could keep rolling out A Safe Space Level 3 training for leaders and Level 4 training for commissioners. Before lockdown, these were only available as face-to-face trainings. The A Safe Space project group, supported by lead volunteers in each country and region, sat down and scoped out the benefits and risks of delivering this training virtually. This started off by being rolled out UK-wide and is now beginning to be available in countries and regions. We were very nervous to begin with but the feedback that we have from trainers and volunteers has been amazing. Volunteers are enjoying the training and really like in the chance to update their skills.

They also told us they’ve been able to use they’re learning during virtual meetings. The virtual training has also been very inclusive – for example we can now offer the training over a number of platforms. We have had hearing and visual impaired volunteers accessing already.

By being flexible, we have established a very high standard of learning, which has meant our volunteers have been keeping up to date regardless of whether they’re isolating at home or a frontline worker. I’m very grateful to all the time, dedication and hard work our volunteers have put into safeguarding.