How to support new volunteers

We’re here to help you support new volunteers joining Girlguiding

26 April 2021

With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions we want to share some practical tips with you to welcome new volunteers.

Whether your unit is meeting outside, returning to your usual venue, or still running virtually, there’s some simple steps you can take. This will help you to deliver great guiding – supporting girls to have fun, experience new things, and make new friends.

Here are some top tips to help you welcome new volunteers

1) Help them to take part flexibly

It’s important to let new volunteers know that they can guide in whatever way works best for them.

As some people may not be comfortable meeting face to face yet, suggest running a couple of virtual sessions in the term so they can still take part and be involved.

2) Schedule an informal chat

To help put new volunteers at ease, schedule an informal chat before they start. It’s great to put some time aside, so you can learn more about them and find out why they are interested in guiding.

3) Welcome new ideas

It’s important that new volunteers feel part of the guiding community. Invite them along to your planning meetings, and let them know that you welcome their ideas and feedback to help improve guiding and support girls.

4) Assign them a volunteer buddy

To help new volunteers settle in, assign them a volunteer buddy – either someone else in their unit, or in the same district/division. This is a great way for them to meet more people and ask questions about guiding if they wish to.

Guiding safely indoors or outdoors

As we move to the next step in the government’s recovery plan, we want to make sure you can are able to reassure new volunteers that guiding can continue safely.

Take a look at guidance to find out about how you can continue guiding safely in your area. 

If you haven’t delivered a virtual meeting before, no problem. We've put together example virtual meeting agendas for each section, along with some other hints and tips, to help demonstrate how a meeting might run in practice.

On our Adventures at home hub, you’ll find a whole range of games, challenges and videos to add some fun into virtual and socially distanced meetings. If meetings aren’t running, you can also send the activities to girls for them to do on their own.


If you’re meeting outside, here are 11 things to do outdoors to help you embrace the elements, whatever the weather! 

We’ve also suggested ways you can adapt some of our programme activities for the outdoors


We can help you adapt programme activities for however you’re choosing to meet.

Take a look at our adjustment ideas spreadsheets for lots of ideas for every section. They feature suggestions for how you can adapt activities for social distancing and virtual meetings, and we’re adding more to them every month.

Volunteer stories from the last year

We asked volunteers for stories of what it’s been like to either welcome new members, or join Girlguiding for the first time. Take a look at how three of our volunteers have managed to make it work, despite some challenges.  

'I ran county level inductions for new volunteers and found that we were getting enquiries during the lockdown and were finding it difficult to decide where in the country would be best to hold an event for these new volunteers. With lockdown and the move to virtual meetings and zoom, we decided we could try this online instead. I invited around 20 potential volunteers. Based on their feedback, I think it gave them the information they needed to understand the organisation they were joining. My advice to potential new volunteers is that being in guiding is fun and rewarding- come and join us!' - Ann Crome, Girlguiding Bedfordshire

'I initially registered interest in being a unit helper in March 2020. I have been amazed by the ambition of doing a programme online and loved getting involved in planning creative activities! It helped the girls to get involved, stay connected and keep learning during a very strange time. As for advice for other potential volunteers - go for it! I wholeheartedly recommend it - you are helping girls to learn and grow, but you are also getting the opportunity to learn and grow yourself! And you’re doing it in the company of brilliant women and having a lot of fun at the same time.' - Amy Button, 19th Belfast Brownies

'As the restrictions for meeting in person continued during 2020, we decided that we needed to take the next step in welcoming new volunteers, by organising Warm Welcome Events online. We have piloted two so far since December 2020, as part of the Space to Grow Together Project.  They have been so successful that we are planning to carry on now the project has finished. Two of the volunteers that attended decided to become leaders in training, rather than unit helpers, and this has saved a Brownie unit from closing!' - Jenni Davis, Central Girlguiding Project Officer (Procedures)