"I wish I'd been in guiding sooner!"

Hear how Tammia makes volunteering work alongside her university degree

Tammia, Unit Helper, 6th Mortlake Guides
01 August 2019

When I started volunteering with Girlguiding, I was a first year university student at Richmond, the American international university in London, studying international business.

My experience with Girlguiding was amazing. I’ve met some incredible people and my unit leader, Lynne, is the most wonderful woman on the planet. She’s so kind and was totally understanding if I couldn’t attend a session.

The first thing that I felt when I began volunteering was that there was a lovely sense of community. The girls don’t go to the same schools as each other but have become great friends through guiding. I felt part of this community as I was a part of their lives and could make a real difference - I felt so lucky to be there! Even though I’m not from the area or a Londoner, they were all so welcoming.

My objective as a volunteer was to support and help these young girls become the women of tomorrow, to boost them with enough confidence so that they know they can achieve anything they set out to do. The most rewarding part of being a volunteer is watching the Guides flourish and grow into young independent women.

I volunteered at a night hike at Richmond Park which was perfect for me as my university was just around the corner. The girls seemed so excited, it was heart-warming to see. I also volunteered at a cheese party where I made a picture quiz for the parents and children to play, it was very fun to make and even more fun seeing families take part.

My perception of Girlguiding was hugely stereotyped from watching American TV shows. I assumed they were little girls knocking on doors, trying to sell not-so-tasty cookies. But I was pleasantly shocked when I saw that these girls were learning survival skills, from orienteering to leading a team. The girls get equipped with the skills and knowledge to be self-sufficient and independent, while having a great time doing so.

During my time there, it was evident of how much of an impact I made. Girlguiding does change lives, it’s still very much relevant today as units continue to evolve and adapt their programmes. I really wish I had been in guiding sooner, as it gives you once in a lifetime experiences and will make my CV stand out to future employers.

I developed my leadership and team working skills as I networked with many different girls. I also learned more communication skills, such as on the hike in Richmond Park - I was a very active listener when the girls would suggest ideas on how to find clues quicker and faster. I developed my planning and organisation skills. I also formed some great friendships as a volunteer.

The hours are very flexible which I was grateful for. Also, many Richmond students have volunteered here previously, and the hall and activities are very close to the Richmond campus meaning it’s easy to get there. Volunteering with Girlguiding is a great opportunity, and will look even better on my CV. I can’t possibly think why anyone wouldn’t want to volunteer except by not being aware an amazing organisation like Girlguiding exists. I’d strongly suggest any student to become a guiding volunteer. It’s a great experience - I feel proud and thankful to be part of it, and to know I’m making a positive contribution to society.