Young members policy
The benefits and expectations of being a member of Girlguiding
Approved: July 2021
Content owner: Volunteer experience
Girlguiding wants all young members to be able to take every opportunity available to make the most of their time as a young member.
This policy is for them and explains the benefits and expectations of being a young member. It also explains our expectations for parents/carers and describes how they can best support their child and the volunteers at their unit.
Young member – anyone who is a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or Ranger, or is a volunteer aged under 18 in any role, for example a young leader.
Parent/carer – the person who has legal responsibility for the young member, this includes those who act as guardians.
Leader – a volunteer who is responsible for running the unit, leading a team and planning and delivering unit activities and events.
Unit leadership team – the unit leader and the volunteers who support her in running the unit. This could include assistant leaders and unit helpers.
Commissioner – a volunteer manager including country, region, county, division or district level.
What are the benefits of being a young member?
Girlguiding gives girls a space where they can be themselves, have fun, build brilliant friendships and gain valuable life skills. Though our programme and activities, we give girls the opportunity to try new things, have adventures and discover their potential.
Our young members take what they do in guiding with them as they grow up. This could be working in a team, taking the lead, or speaking out on issues they care about. Girlguiding helps girls develop the skills and confidence to become the young women they want to be - and to make a difference to the world around them.
How to become a young member
Young membership is currently open to any girl or young woman aged between 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 18. From October 2021, local guiding in all countries and regions can open units to 4 year olds.
- Members under the age of 14 need a parent/carer with legal responsibility to complete and sign the new starter form. The information supplied on this form is held on Girlguiding’s membership system and must be kept up to date. The parent or carer must provide the personal information and can update it themselves. Or they can ask the leader to do the update for them.
- Young members 14 years or older must add the required details to GO, our online membership system. The starter form for parents/carers of 14-17 year olds will need to be completed and signed by a parent/carer who has legal responsibility.
If the chosen unit does not have a space, the young members’ name will be added to a waiting list and spaces will be offered as they become available and in waiting list order.
Girlguiding’s expectations of young members
When a girl becomes a young member she becomes part of her unit, and also part of the wider guiding family.
All Girlguiding members are invited to make the Promise which is appropriate to her section. The Promise and the Laws are important parts of building the Girlguiding community and help to set the expectations for appropriate behaviour. Even if a young member has not made the Promise yet Girlguiding expects them to do their best to uphold the Promise and the Laws.
If there are instances of inappropriate behaviour the unit leadership team will work with the young member and their parents/carers to try and find a mutually agreed solution.
In line with our equality and diversity policy volunteers will take into account the circumstances of the young member and see if there are any reasonable changes that can be made in order to help the young member participate. However, Girlguiding is unable to tolerate ongoing inappropriate behaviour.
As a last resort, if a resolution cannot be found, the leader may ask the young member to leave the unit. The leader must talk to her commissioner before doing so and also explain to the parent or carer why this action is being taken.
Rangers and young leaders are expected to keep their membership system (GO) records up to date. Rangers and young leaders should make sure that they tell their unit leader if they can’t attend and should make sure that paperwork and payments are returned or made on time.
What should a parent/carer do to support the young member and the volunteers at the unit?
- Encourage the young member to get involved and bring her along regularly to unit meetings.
- Let the unit leader know in advance if the young member can’t attend.
- Keep personal details up to date on the membership system. The parent or carer with legal responsibility must give the personal information and can update it themselves. Or they can ask the unit leader to do the update for them.
- Look out for information and return paperwork (such as consent forms) promptly.
- Make payments on time.
- Encourage the young member to understand and uphold the Girlguiding Promise and Laws.
The Girlguiding community treats everyone with respect and dignity and values the support that parents/carers can give to help to set positive examples.
All of our units are run by volunteers who give up their time to create an environment that empowers young members to be the best that they can be. So inappropriate behaviour by parents or carers towards volunteers, other parents/carers or young members may lead to withdrawal of membership from the young person in their care.
Girlguiding will not and shall not get involved in any family (including child/children or related) legal disputes without an order from the court provided by legal representation and will only correspond with the parent/carer who has legal responsibility as per details held on the membership system records.
If parents/grandparents etc. have joint responsibility it's vital that this information, including the details of the parent who should be contacted in an emergency, is clearly recorded on the young members contact details. For the avoidance of doubt, please ensure that we have the up-to-date information on the membership system.
All members are covered by Girlguiding’s personal accident and public liability insurance policies while they are taking part in guiding activity.