An important announcement about British Girlguiding Overseas
Trustees made a decision about the future of BGO in April 2023.
Last updated: 27 November 2023.
Girlguiding’s board of trustees regularly reviews our operations and as part of this, trustees made an important decision about Girlguiding's overseas operations.
The UK board of trustees decided to make changes and to end British Girlguiding Overseas (BGO) operations. BGO closed on 1 September 2023, along with units in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and Europe. Girlguiding in British Overseas Territories is still running and a decision will be announced in 2024.
BGO was guiding for girls who live overseas. There were around 2,600 members in BGO, and it took place in 36 countries and territories. There were 2 parts within the overseas operations: firstly, units in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg (Benelux) and France, Europe and lone guiding. Secondly, guiding for girls who live in British Overseas Territories (formerly called branches and Caribbean and Atlantic areas). A full list of countries can be seen below.
Why was this decision made?
For the UK board of trustees, the decision was made based on the organisation’s future ability to run an overseas operation in 36 countries and territories, each with separate laws and regulations.
In the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and Europe, guiding run by Girlguiding ended on 1 September 2023. That means Girlguiding units, trips and meetings no longer happen in these areas.
BGO in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and Europe closed on 1 September 2023, including units operating on military bases. Girlguiding is in communication with the Ministry of Defence and other military stakeholders to explore future guiding support for girls on overseas military bases.
The way forward looks different for Girlguiding in Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha, and Turks and Caicos Islands) because of the way guiding associations in those areas are run. This means there may be different options depending on individual Girlguiding constitutions and governance structures.
In order to give more time for options to be developed, our UK board of trustees has decided to extend the timeline for Girlguiding activities in Overseas Territories into 2024 (previously 31 December 2023). This extended timeline gives our members time to transition to any new way we may be delivering Girlguiding in Overseas Territories.
This announcement does not affect the way we deliver guiding across the UK and in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Our structure, policies and procedures remain the same across the UK, and unit meetings, trips and online meetings can continue as normal.
This decision does not affect international trips for girls who live and are part of units in the UK. We remain committed to providing more opportunities for all girls to feel and be part of our worldwide sisterhood of guiding – from learning about different countries and cultures, being connected to girls in other countries and being part of WAGGGS.
Legacy of British Girlguiding Overseas
BGO has been a valued part of Girlguiding UK for much of our 113-year history, with thousands of incredible volunteers providing fun, friendship and adventure for girls who are living overseas. We want to emphasise that this decision was nothing to do with the quality of the experiences that volunteers had been providing for girls. We want to thank everyone involved in running and supporting this wide-reaching operation. Everyone is part of our long and rich history, and where possible we have supported girls and volunteers living overseas to continue to be part of guiding in new ways.
Support for all Girlguiding members
Chief guide Tracy Foster, chair of the board of trustees Catherine Irwin, and CEO Angela Salt hosted a webinar to share more information about the recent announcements on British Girlguiding Overseas (BGO) and the 5 Girlguiding-owned activity centres.
For many, this news will be unexpected and having some time together to talk about the decision and share questions is important. Please talk to your local commissioner and other local volunteer members.
If you have questions
We want to make sure you’re supported during this period. You may have questions about the decision or about what’s next.
- Girlguiding has set up a 24/7 special support team to answer your questions. Get in touch: 020 8159 4040 or [email protected].
- All calls and emails will be confidential, and the service will be open 24hrs, 7 days a week.
- Find out more, including how this team will handle personal data.
- Please also direct any social media enquiries you receive to the special support team.
- Read a child-friendly version of this announcement. It has been written to help you explain this decision to girls who are Rainbow and Brownie age.
- If you’re a member of Overseas Territories, read our British Overseas Territories practical questions.
Questions you may have
What is BGO?
British Girlguiding Overseas (BGO) was guiding for girls who live overseas and took place in 36 countries and territories with around 2,600 members.
Which countries and territories did Girlguiding UK operate BGO in?
The countries in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, Europe and lone guiding are: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain (including Tenerife, Lanzarote), Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates.
The countries where Girlguiding UK currently operates and which we call the Overseas Territories/former branch associations are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Does this mean Girlguiding is not going to be part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)?
No. We are continuing to be part of the WAGGGS movement. We remain committed to providing more opportunities for all girls to feel and be part of our worldwide sisterhood of guiding – from learning about different countries and cultures, being connected to girls in other countries and being part of our WAGGGS movement.
I have links to a unit overseas. What will happen with them?
The way forward for each unit is different depending on where they are. Things will change on the following dates:
- They were no longer apart of Girlguiding from 1 September 2023 if they are based in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, European countries, and lone guiding in BGO.
- Early 2024 if they are based in the Overseas Territories. Please speak to the unit leader or their local commissioner to find out more.