British Girlguiding Overseas - practical questions

What to do if you’re part of a British Girlguiding Overseas (BGO) unit

19 April 2023

Last updated: 27 November 2023.

Our board of trustees has made an important decision about Girlguiding’s overseas operations.

We know that this has been a very difficult announcement. As a member of a BGO unit, you’re probably wondering what this means for you.

If you live in a British Overseas Territory 

If you’re a member of Girlguiding in Overseas Territories (formerly called branches and Caribbean and Atlantic), we’ve created separate FAQs for your information. 

The UK board of trustees has decided to extend the timeline for Girlguiding activities in Overseas Territories into next year, 2024 (previously 31 December 2023). This extended timeline gives our members time to transition to any new way we may be delivering guiding in Overseas Territories. 

Read our Overseas Territories practical questions.  

If you live in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, European countries 

Girlguiding in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, European countries and lone guiding (MABEL) closed on 1 September 2023. We’ve answered some practical questions below on what you need to know if you live in those areas.

Where to go for support

The practical questions listed below are intended to provide guidance and support following the closure of BGO.  

Our special support team is available 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. 

Girlguiding has allocated funding to provide ongoing wellbeing support for BGO volunteers through the extension of the Health Assured service, an assistance and counselling service. Further information and details about this can be requested by emailing [email protected]No information about individuals’ use of the service is passed back to Girlguiding. Support from Health Assured has been extended for all members of BGO to 31 December 2023. 

Practical questions

Girlguiding units closed in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, Europe and lone guiding (MABEL) on 1 September 2023. These countries were: 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, and the United Arab Emirates. 

The countries where Girlguiding operates in British Overseas Territories/former branch associations are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos Islands.

I’d like a copy of my GO record, achievements, awards, roles or courses completed. It's not possible for me to print it out from GO, how can I make sure this information isn't lost? 

Your record can be reactivated if you rejoin Girlguiding in the UK. If young members would like to have a physical record of their achievements, they’re encouraged to use their badge books or create their own record in another format. For adult members there’s already a Guiding History report that your commissioner can download and print from GO, which will include all your past roles and qualifications. If you’re unable to print, you can use the printable version to create a PDF.

How do commissioners download a volunteer's record from GO?

To download a guiding history report:

  1.  Log in to your commissioner role.
  2. Go to the 'Volunteer roles' tab.
  3. Use the action arrow and select 'Edit individual'.
  4. Under the 'View length of service / guiding history' section.
  5. Check the box beside 'Generate guiding history report'.
  6. Click update.
  7. Wait a couple of minutes and refresh the page. The report will appear in that section of the page.

Please note: the emergency contact information for the volunteer needs to be completed before this report will run.

If a BGO member returns to the UK at any point in the future will their qualifications, experience and length of service remain valid?

Once a GO profile is made inactive the information in the profiles can still be reactivated if someone rejoins in the UK. This will include their qualifications and experience, though qualifications that need to be refreshed regularly (for example first aid training) may need to be renewed depending how much time has elapsed.

We’d like to reassure you that former BGO members who return to the UK are always welcome in Girlguiding, and your length of service will still stand. 

How long is data held on GO once a member is inactive?

If an adult member's GO record is made inactive, we will keep your data until your 70th birthday or six years after you leave, whichever is later. If a young member's GO record is made inactive before their 18th birthday, the profile can be reactivated until their 24th birthday. An individual can request for their data to be deleted in full at any time - and in that case their GO profile could no longer be reactivated.

Can I join Trefoil Guild to keep my length of service?

We encourage anyone who'd like to join the Trefoil Guild. Being a member of Trefoil Guild doesn't generally count towards a Girlguiding length of service award, but it's a great way to stay connected and remain part of the Girlguiding family.

What happens to any uncompleted young leader or leadership qualifications?

For MABEL countries, the opportunity to pursue leadership qualifications through BGO ended on 31 August 2023. For details on specific qualifications, please see below. 

For Girlguiding in Overseas Territories, the extension into the first few months of 2024 means that girls and volunteers in Overseas Territories will have the opportunity to pursue leadership qualifications into early 2024. For details on specific qualifications, please see below. 

The young leader qualification must be completed by someone's 18th birthday, but it is possible to take a break at any time. So if you’re a young member working towards your young leader qualification, please keep your evidence workbook. If you rejoin a unit in the UK, you can discuss completing the qualification with your new unit leader.

Whether they’re based in the UK or overseas, volunteers working towards Girlguiding's previous leadership qualification will already have planned to complete the qualification by September 2023 before it was phased out. Once you've completed the leadership qualification, the details stay on your GO record even after it’s made inactive, so if you rejoin Girlguiding in the UK your commissioner will be able to see this.

Adults working towards the new leader development programme who didn't complete it before September 2023 won't be able to continue with the programme. But any modules they’ve already completed will be recorded on GO. If you rejoin Girlguiding in the UK, you’ll be able to talk to your commissioner about options for resuming leadership training at that stage.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all leaders within BGO for your dedication and commitment to supporting and inspiring girls. Whatever you go on to do in future, all of the skills you’ve gained through leadership training in Girlguiding will be relevant and transferrable to so many areas of work and day to day life. Whether or not you’ve completed a full qualification, we hope you feel proud of your achievements and encourage you to highlight this experience in work or volunteering applications, CVs and LinkedIn.

What happens for girls and young women working on awards?

The Falkland Islands is the only territory within British Girlguiding Overseas which offers the Duke of Edinburgh award through Girlguiding. Girlguiding will maintain the licence to offer the scheme in this location until May 2024, which will give girls already working towards an award time to complete this as part of the transition to a potential future operation model.  

Young women who've recently completed the Queen’s Guide Award with BGO have been invited to attend our celebration event in November 2023 and we hope they will attend if they can. There are no other Queen’s Guide Awards in progress in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and European countries at this time. 

If you have someone volunteering in your unit while they are undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh Award through another organisation, please ask them to speak to that organisation in the first instance. Their local Duke of Edinburgh centre may give permission for someone to have two volunteer opportunities count towards their award. Girlguiding has made our contacts at Duke of Edinburgh aware of the situation, and we hope they will show flexibility in these circumstances.

What do we do with Girlguiding badges, unit meeting activity and skills builder packs or old resources?

This is very much up to you. You could decide to send the resources back to the UK to distribute to local units or give them away to other members. You can also keep badges and other resources for yourself. If you’d like to donate the resources to UK units who need them, but aren't sure where to start, please speak to your local commissioner.

What do we do with unit, district, division, region flags?

It’s up to each unit, district or division to decide what they’d like to do with their flag. Whether that means putting it on display in a local building, preserving it in a guiding archive, or decommissioning it as part of a local celebration.

What do we do with the larger equipment, such as cooking, camping or training materials (for example, first aid kits, flip chart boards)?

This is very much up to you. You could decide to give it to another local youth group, school or charity who could benefit. 

What do we do with craft and activity resources?

This is also very much up to you. You might decide to give them to another local youth group, school or charity who could benefit.

What about recently purchased uniform, badge books or items from the Girlguiding shop?

For goods purchased from the Girlguiding shop, our standard terms and conditions apply. If you have any questions about purchases you’ve made which can’t be refunded, please speak to your local commissioner.

What do depots do with excess stock?

If you run an overseas depot and have concerns about excess stock, please let us know the details. Girlguiding can't offer refunds outside of our normal terms and conditions, but we’re happy to signpost to groups who might be able to put excess stock to use in future.

I’m a signatory on a local bank account, I’m worried how I stand legally if we don’t get the account closed before my membership ends. 

There is no need for unit signatories to remain members while closing bank accounts.

What should be done with remaining funds within units? (Updated 1 September 2023)

During June, July and August we have encouraged all units to use as much of their residual funds as they can to support young members to have the best possible end to their time as part of Girlguiding. That could include spending on additional activities for meetings, a special trip or party, or gifts for the girls. These activities will now be complete.  

Girlguiding is keen to support girls and volunteers in units, in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, European countries, to move to alternative member organisations, as BGO closed on 1 September 2023. Alternative member organisations include British Scouting Overseas, Girl Scouts USA or a local registered WAGGGS member organisation. To facilitate a smooth transition, Girlguiding has agreed that some unit funds (where funds are available) can be transferred directly to these member organisations for initial membership fees or subscriptions to the end of 2023, or used to support costs of uniform, training, programme resources, if required. If you're planning to transfer funds please get agreement from your county commissioner before making any transfers.

All remaining funds must be returned to the next level above, either district, division, county or region in line with Girlguiding’s finance policy. Leaders, district or division and county commissioners in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France, European countries in BGO should follow the financial procedures outlined in the closure checklist shared by the BGO commissioners' team.

Do we need to keep any financial records for the last 7 years? If so, where? 

Girlguiding does not expect BGO volunteers to keep any paperwork relating to their guiding after closure, unless it is a requirement under the local laws and regulations of the country you are in. The types of documents you're most likely to be required by law to keep (and won’t be on GO) are financial or banking records. Please follow the BGO closure checklist that was shared by the BGO commissioners’ team.

Are all roles in guiding now going to require a disclosure check and UK residency?

There won’t be any changes to the requirements for Girlguiding roles. Anyone who can meet the requirements for a Girlguiding role (including for any disclosure checks needed) and is able to do the role in practice from their location is very welcome to apply through the usual process.

Can I help out with a UK unit or event when I’m in the UK during the holidays?

If you’re in the UK for the holidays, we'd love for you to be able to visit units or join events where appropriate. Local volunteers running unit meetings and events may be able to arrange for you to join as an external visitor for a one-off activity.

For residentials and repeat activities you’re likely to need a disclosure check, which may not be possible if you live overseas. But if you can meet Girlguiding's standard requirements for any volunteer role, you’re welcome to apply using the usual process.

Will Girlguiding still continue in overseas military bases?

Members of Girlguiding have been progressing the discussion about military bases. Conversations are under way with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to understand what support may be possible for girls to continue guiding on overseas military bases in the future under new arrangements. Girlguiding on military bases in Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and European countries closed on 31 August 2023. If more information becomes available, well keep members updated. 

This is different from Overseas Territories where an extension was agreed to until early next year, 2024. 

What options are available for other member organisations in my area? 

BGO has now ended in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and European countries.  

If you're interested in exploring another membership organisation in these areas, here are some other organisations to consider: 

If you have further questions, your local commissioner team can help.