Listening and acting on feedback

We listened to your feedback and have introduced bronze and silver section awards

Mhairi Mackay, Lead Volunteer for Youth Programmes
25 November 2019

Mhairi Mackay, Leader with the 8th Penicuik Brownies and the 1st Dalkeith Rangers and lead volunteer for youth programmes, tells us about the journey from your feedback, to two new section awards. 

Two months ago, I accepted the lead volunteer role for youth programmes which is an exciting new role focussed on embedding the programme across Girlguiding. Previously, I was the lead volunteer for peer education and was also on the Task and Finish group who worked on developing the new programme, so it’s great to be able to come full circle and use my knowledge of the programme in this new role. In my day life, I’m an Assistant Programme Manager for the NHS and I’m also a Brownie and Ranger leader in Midlothian, as well as a prospective trainer so I’m definitely kept busy but am excited for this new opportunity!

There are always lots of opportunities to get involved in national Guiding and I would encourage anyone who is interested to apply for these roles. I’ve found both lead volunteer roles extremely rewarding and they give me lots to take back to my local units. Not only this, but they’ve given me the skills to progress at work too!

Listening and acting on feedback

As a team, we’re constantly looking at the feedback received from our members through the Our Journey inbox as well as at events. Some suggestions give us feedback on issues that will take a long time to gain full clarity on, such as fears around whether girls will do interest badges away from unit meeting spaces. Other issues highlighted are things that we are working to fix, but that take a bit of time. For instance, we know that recording skill builders on GO is a massive frustration for volunteers and are actively working on this.

Occasionally we get feedback or suggestions that can be actioned quickly, such as the new top section awards. At this year’s trainers’ conference, it was suggested by trainers that it would be useful to have section Bronze and section Silver awards for girls to recognise their time and commitment to our fantastic programme activities. We absolutely loved this idea and began testing it with leaders and girls across the country. At testing, we received feedback that it was great for girls who have joined later than the beginning age of their section or for girls who have been on waiting lists.

Section Bronze and Silver awards

We wanted to make this change as easy as possible for leaders so we are looking to make sure there is no extra recording required in order for girls to get these new awards. 

The badges will be available to order from county badge secretaries in January. I’m really excited to hand a few out to my girls that I know will shortly be on the way to reaching their section Bronze award!  From speaking to leaders, I’ve heard of some fantastic units who are doing a whole mix of activities from across all themes and are excited to hand out section Bronze awards when the badges come into stock too. It’s really important that a varied and balanced programme is still in place for girls, so they take part in a range of different experiences, activities and games through guiding. These awards are not designed to be earned at a particular time in a girl’s journey through a section (e.g. after a certain number of years) so leaders do not need to feel under pressure to plan their programme based on when girls will achieve them.  They can be awarded whenever a girl has earned the relevant number of Theme awards, however long she has been in the section.

What’s next?

We’ve recently welcomed two new specialist volunteers into the youth programmes family, for peer education and for youth awards. We’re also in the process of recruiting another specialist volunteer for youth events so there’s lots of exciting progress being made to other parts of the core programme offer. Most recently, we’ve updated the Guide and Ranger permits and are looking to review the Queen’s Guide Award. I’m also keen to visit as many areas as possible over the next coming months to hear your direct feedback and see if there are any other small tweaks we can make to the programme to make it the best it can be for all girls. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please email [email protected].