You've been through a lot this year

This World Mental Health Day, we want your mental health and wellbeing to be your top priority.

10 October 2020

Earlier in the year, near the start of lockdown, we wrote to volunteers with the reminder that ‘it’s okay to just be’. As national restrictions were put into place, we wanted to remind our volunteers to prioritise self-care when figuring out how to adjust to ‘the new normal’.

 Since then, ‘normal’ has never really stabilised. The rules are different for everyone, depending on where you live in the UK. Future plans are still made provisionally, with the caveat that they might have to change at short notice. Nevertheless, at HQ we’ve been blown away with how brilliantly you’ve adapted to new ways of guiding so that you can continue to be there for girls and young women.

You've gone the extra mile

Many of you have learned new technology to carry on holding virtual unit meetings, even in the height of lockdown. Some of you have been working through all the new procedures for face-to-face meetings, whether that’s negotiating with indoor venues, or wrapping up warm for outdoor activities. Many of you have carried on volunteering alongside all your other commitments and pressures, whether you’re a key worker, or looking at a reduced income as a direct result of the pandemic.

It’s a lot to handle, and this World Mental Health Day we want to remind you once again that it’s ok to prioritise yourself. We’ve been putting out lots of advice and guidance on how to keep on guiding, because we know that for many of you, volunteering is one of the things that helps get you through. However, if that’s not how you feel, we want you to know that we understand. While we are here to empower girls to discover the best in themselves, we are also here to support you, our volunteers.

We want you to look after yourself

We’re very aware that all the new advice is a lot to take in. If it’s all feeling overwhelming, there are a few things we want you to know:  

  • Don’t feel pressured to hold face-to-face meetings if it makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable. While it is possible to hold socially-distanced meetings safely in many instances, we recognise that many people won’t feel comfortable doing so. You might be clinically vulnerable or living with someone who is, or the prospect of rising cases might just be making you too anxious. We’ve adapted our programme so that it can be delivered in the way that works best for you – if you feel more comfortable sticking to virtual meetings, that’s absolutely fine.
  • Don’t worry if you’ve never used the technology before. We’ve put out lots of resources to try and make virtual guiding as easy as possible, even if you’ve never been on a Zoom call. This blog is a great place to get started, and even includes example agendas you can use to plan your own meetings. 
  • Prioritise yourself and your mental health. This has never been more important than it is right now – the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. If at any point you feel like you are struggling as a Girlguiding volunteer, please reach out to the rest of your guiding team, or your commissioner, and let them know. They may be able to help you rebalance things. Remember that if you have to take a break for your own wellbeing, that’s ok. We developed #AdventuresAtHome so that girls all over the country can have access to fun, enriching activities they can follow along at home by themselves, regardless of their circumstances. You won’t be letting down your girls.

As we said in April; as a volunteer, you are incredibly precious to us. We want guiding to be a source of joy and comfort for you in these difficult times, rather than an added burden. If at any point you feel that you need more help to keep on doing what you love, we are here to support you in any way that we can.