How to return to guiding after lockdown
Volunteer Laura Cottey shares tips for units that haven't met during the Covid-19 pandemic
With lockdown rules about to be relaxed, you might be beginning to think about returning to guiding.
We want to support you in as many ways as we can so we've gathered all the forms, resources and support that you need in one place. We've also put together a step-by-step guide to help get you started.
Where should you begin?
Do whatever you feel happy with! There is no problem with starting small. You could meet fortnightly or monthly initially and move on to weekly meetings when you feel ready.
You might like to offer a blended programme, perhaps with a combination of at-home activities and virtual and outdoor meetings, so that you include lots of different ways of meeting up. Hopefully, as the restrictions are relaxed further, you will be in a position to start meeting face-to-face indoors again. So here we go:
Return to guiding – step by step
Step 1: make contact
Get in touch with the other unit leaders, volunteers, parents/carers and girls that were in your unit.
- Have a look at our template letter below to help you invite girls and parents to get involved.
- You might like to send parents and girls some ideas from the Adventures at home hub to whet their appetite while you get all the details and information ready for a first meeting. There are loads of different activities to keep all age groups happy.
- It's a good idea to have a volunteer meeting first with the other volunteers from your unit just to make sure disclosure checks, A Safe Space and 1st Response status are all up to date. If you are starting off with virtual meetings, this is also a good opportunity to have a practice.
- Your local commissioner is a great source of support and will be delighted to help you get back up and running again. You could also speak to other unit leaders in your area or ask to attend one of their meetings to get some ideas.
Dear parents and carers [insert first name if sending by post or emailing individually],
I hope you and your family are well after this difficult year.
[Optional: Unfortunately, we've been unable to meet as a unit over the last year because our volunteer team has members who are keyworkers/are vulnerable/caring for those who are vulnerable or [insert other reason].]
We've been missing our weekly meetings with the Rainbows/Brownies/Guides/Rangers [delete as appropriate]. Thank you for your support during this time.
We're really excited to announce that we'd like to restart our meetings on [insert date]. To begin with, this will be virtual/outdoor face to face/indoor face to face [delete as appropriate]. Initially, we'll be meeting weekly/fortnightly/monthly [delete as appropriate] and review this regularly.
For virtual meetings you can include this: These meetings will take place via [insert digital platform, such as Zoom] and we have measures in place to keep everyone safe. To make sure that your daughter is allowed to join the online sessions you need to complete the consent form, which I've also attached. Please fill this out and send it to [insert details of where the consent form should be returned to].
If meeting outdoor face to face you can include this text:
Girlguiding has announced that we can begin meeting face to face again if we follow government guidance. For us that currently means [add the right info for you here. For example, 6 people can meet outside.]
We'd like to invite your daughter to an outdoor meeting at:
[Add your meeting details here, for example: Town Centre playing fields, 7pm on Tuesday]
The safety of the girls and leaders is always very important to us. We do a full risk assessment for all activities we do and this is no different. I know you might be feeling a bit anxious, so I wanted to let you know what plans we have put in place to keep everyone safe:
[Explain your plans here, for example,
- We've completed a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment
- We'll all keep a social distance of 2m during the activity or meeting. We've got some great activity ideas that will work without close contact.
- Hand sanitiser will be available throughout the activity.
- All girls will clean their hands with hand sanitiser when they arrive. They'll do this again after using shared equipment such as balls, pens, scissors etc.]
If your daughter is feeling ill, or someone else in your household is showing symptoms of coronavirus, then please follow self-isolation guidelines. Girls must not attend any meetings until isolation is complete. We're asking the same of all our volunteers and leaders.
Can you take a look at the information included with this letter and let us know if we need to update your contact details?
I'll also need your consent for your daughter to attend this meeting, so please complete and return the attached form. This is the form we always use when meeting outside our usual meeting space.
We’ll hold on to this information and use it for Track and Trace if needed.
If you have any concerns, or would like to talk about our plans, please get in touch with me.
We're really looking forward to seeing everyone again and hope you'll be able to join us.
Step 2: online meeting
Maybe you would like your first event to be online. Below is everything you need for virtual guiding:
- Have a look at our online guiding and virtual unit meetings page.
- First you'll need to decide what platform to use, then maybe brush up on your digital skills with the digital skills 'how to' webinars.
- Once you have sorted these out you'll want to be sure that everyone can be safe online so you should look at the digital safeguarding policy and procedures, plus you'll need to complete a virtual meeting checklist and risk assessment. You'll also need to ask parents/carers to complete the virtual meeting consent form.
- Finally you'll need to decide what exciting activities you are going to run – we have a range of ready-made programmes available or there's lots to choose from on the Adventures at home hub. By reading volunteer blogs and joining volunteer webinars, you can also learn from other volunteers what works best.
Step 3: meet outdoors
As the sun begins to shine and the days are getting longer and warmer, perhaps you'd like to meet with your unit outdoors. That would be fantastic! Just follow the steps on the pages below and you'll be all set.
- Go to the Holding meetings outdoors page for all the information that you need to do this.
- There are some brilliant ideas for adapting the programme for outdoors and social distancing here. Have fun!
- Look out for our webinar sessions 'Beyond Scavenger Hunt' about running socially distanced activities too. You can find out more on GO.
Step 4: meet indoors
Once we are allowed it will be possible to go back to meeting indoors if you want to.
- If you are ready to do this, have a look at our Indoor meetings page for all the information you need.
- Is your venue still closed or would you like to change venues because yours is not sufficiently Covid-safe? We have put together some information to help you find a new venue.
Don't forget there is plenty of support to help you get back to guiding, so if you have any concerns do speak to your commissioner.