Managing your waiting lists

Help as many young members to access Girlguiding as possible

We want to welcome as many young members as possible to the world of Girlguiding and waiting lists are a barrier in being able to access guiding locally.

This guidance will help us all to have a consistent approach to waiting list management.  

Manage your waiting lists effectively

Prioritising spaces

There are lots of different factors to consider when allocating a space including time spent waiting, like the age of the young person and siblings who are members. Having an approach that’s fair, consistent, and transparent to parents or carers is important to a positive and inclusive experience for anyone waiting to join a unit. Whether existing members or new members, everyone needs to feel welcomed and waiting list management plays an important role in doing this. 

Be sure to warmly welcome parents  and carers and keep them up to date with what’s happening with your waiting lists. You could do this via email, text or a phone call. As these will often be similar messages, you might want to save templates for these messages to save you time. These are some useful resources to help you welcome girls to your unit. 

It’s important to move potential joiners along the stages of joining on GO so that waiting lists are up to date and enquirers aren’t sitting in the wrong place for too long. After 21 days, you’ll get a reminder about the enquiry, unless it’s been updated to ‘contacted’. Adding a comment doesn’t stop the 21-day email. If you’re waiting for the parent or carer to come back to you, update the enquiry as ‘contacted’.  

If there’s no space in your unit, move them to ‘wait list- new’ or ‘wait list- existing’ depending on their membership status: New for a girl who hasn’t joined us yet or existing for a girl who already has a membership number. You can find more information in the GO Help file ‘updating girls in your unit’.

Existing members – transitions and transfers 

Existing members have priority over new members waiting to join. This includes moving up to the next section, called transitions, or relocating to a different area, called transfers, so that they can continue their Girlguiding journey. Talk to leaders in your area to help your planning. 

This applies to: 

  • Young members in your local Girlguiding area who are ready and old enough to move up from the younger section. 
  • Young members outside your local Girlguiding area who are ready and old enough to move up from the younger section. 
  • A young member from outside your local Girlguiding area who wants to transfer from another group of the same section. 
  • A young member who’s been part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. 

If a young member wants to transfer units, it can be hard to manage if local units are full. Take time to listen to why they want to transfer and work with other volunteers like your local commissioner to decide on the best option. 

New members waiting to join

Once you’ve given a space to existing members or if there aren’t any existing members on your waiting list, you can offer spaces to children waiting to join. 

As a leader, it’s up to you to manage the waiting lists of your unit. When prioritising new members, consider: 

  • Special circumstances, for example, if an older sibling is already a member or has been a member of the unit. 
  • Time on waiting list. This starts from the date their enquiry was created on GO. This date won’t change if a girl is transferred to another waiting list. 
  • Age of the young person. We want every girl to have the chance to experience the full Girlguiding programme, so it’s worth thinking about whether they’ll be able to do this at their current age. For example, it could be hard for a 13-year-old Guide to get the most of her time in that section. 

You could also consider children’s individual circumstances, and if they could benefit from being prioritised. This could include children in care, young carers of those learning English. 

Also make sure you are upholding the Equality and Diversity policy. Our vision is an equal world where all girls can make a positive difference, be happy, safe and fulfil their potential. Being inclusive is a core value for us. All volunteers have a responsibility to make Girlguiding accessible and inclusive for any age and ability. If you need further support on this, head to the making reasonable adjustments webpage.

Example one

A seven-year-old Rainbow is ready to transition to your Brownie unit, but you are unlikely to have space for six months. You also receive a new member enquiry from an eight-year-old.  

  • The seven-year-old has priority when a space becomes available because they are an existing member. Let their parent or carer know there will be at least a six month wait. 
  • If they’re happy to wait, add the enquiring child to wait list- existing. If not, suggest other local Brownie units they could join.  
  • Let the new member enquiry know how long their wait could be and suggest other local Brownie units, move them to contacted. 

Example two

A new member wants to join your Rainbow unit, she’s five-years-old and you received her enquiry 12 months ago. Next on your list is a six and a half -year-old waiting to join who enquired six months ago. 

  • Even though the six and a half-year-old is older, the five-year-old gets priority as they have been waiting to join longer. 
  • Let the parents/carers of the six and a half-year-old know when a space will become available and offer to transfer her to the waiting list of a local Brownie unit.  

Example three

The sibling of a girl in your rainbow unit has been waiting to join for six months. She’s a new member. You also have another new member who has been waiting for eight months.  

  • This would be considered a special circumstance as a child already has a sibling in your unit and they would get priority.

It's important to keep all parents and carers informed to manage their expectations of how long their children might be on your waiting list. Do this for new young members who want to join and existing members who are transferring units too. 

If a child is unlikely to get into your unit, talk to the parent or carer about their options. They may decide to look for another unit and move their child onto another list. Having this conversation early on will help prevent girls from missing out on a great guiding experience. If they’ve been unable to find a space in another unit in your division or district, you could support them by reaching out to other units, such as units that might be on the borderline with another county. Having good communication with your local leaders and commissioners is important to make this process as easy as possible. 

Going back and forth between parents and carers can be time consuming. Check out the email templates that can be edited to suit you.  

Information for commissioners

There are benefits to managing waiting lists from a district, division and/or county level. Being able to manage waiting lists from these levels can give you an insight into the growth and development opportunities of your area and can take the pressure of managing waiting lists off unit leaders so they can focus on running their unit. 

HQ make data reports at the end of each quarter using information from GO. And the quarterly Our Plan data is a useful tool for any volunteer managing waiting lists. It gives you a unit-level view of data in your area. It’s up to you and your volunteers how you use the Our Plan data. These are some ways you could use it: 

  1. For identifying waiting list trends  
  2. Seeing which units or sections need the most support  
  3. Checking which unit capacities need updating  
  4. Looking ahead at future spaces in units  
  5. Comparing districts and divisions in your area 
  6. Identifying opportunities for growth and seeing if  new units could be opened 
  7. Identifying areas that could benefit from a recruitment drive for either girls or volunteers.  

The Our Plan data is sent out to the country/region staff quarterly. Country/regions will then decide how and when to share the Our Plan data with counties.  

After receiving the Our Plan data at a county level, the county will decide the process they’ll take to share Our Plan data with divisions if they want too.   

To support unit leaders, you can provide them with email templates to email out to all parents and carers on their waiting list.  

You can share updates of the data for your area, and you could set targets to work towards. You could share this at any area-wide meetings you have planned.  

When reviewing your waiting lists at a district, division or county level, you’ll see opportunities for growth and development in your area, like where there might be units needing extra support. By using GO and the Our Plan data, you can have a hands-on approach to your waiting lists. You’ll also be able to find details for unit leaders or parents or carers. 

When speaking with parents or carers who have children on the waiting lists, you could offer lots off options, like: 

  • Suggesting alterative units in the area with a shorter waiting list 
  • Inviting the young person to any opportunities or events happening in your area 
  • Exploring the interest for setting up a virtual unit for girls to join before getting a space in their preferred unit. 
  • Making sure they keep their contact details up to date.  
  • Drawing their attention on how to register as a volunteer so more young members can get guiding sooner.  

Many areas have one volunteer who manages all the waiting lists. You could also have a volunteer, or a group of volunteers, who focus on growth and development in your area. These volunteers can be people who are also unit leaders, or they could be someone who can’t commit to a specific weeknight.  

North West England decided to manage their waiting lists regionally, by having quarterly mailings to all parents and carers of girls who were waiting for a place at their chosen unit. One region staff member led this and managed the emails and responses.  

  • The aim of the mailing was to try to work out if parents or carers were still interested in their girls being on the waiting list. If not, the region took them of it.
  • Letting parents and carers know about other units with spaces if there wasn’t a chance of the young person getting into their original choice. 
  • Keeping conversations going with parents and carers on the waiting list  
  • Offering to send activity packs to young people on the waiting list to keep them interested in guiding.

In the first quarter, emails were only sent to the girls waiting to join Rainbows or Brownies. Then, in the second quarter, they sent emails to the girls waiting to join Guides and Rangers. They plan to repeat this process every six months for all sections. 

Activities for girls on the waiting list

You can keep in contact and do activities with girls waiting to join your unit so that they stay interested and know what to expect when a space becomes available. 

Running taster sessions in person and virtually 

A taster session is a great way to inspire girls to get involved! They can be run in your unit or as a district, division or county.  

What your taster session will look like will depend on how many girls are interested in joining Girlguiding. It could be as simple as inviting girls on your waiting list to a session, or it could be a weekend-long county event. 

As long as it introduces potential young members to Girlguiding in a way that’s accessible and positive, the rest is up to you! 

There are some things that your taster session could include: 

  • Introducing them to Girlguiding and the section their joining 
  • Explaining who will be at their meetings, like young leaders and unit helpers 
  • Having a go at your unit’s favourite games and activities, giving them a brief overview of the programme.
  • Sharing important unit details with parents, such as costs, parent and carer responsibilities, times of meetings and uniform 
  • Using it as an opportunity for parents and carers to speak to leaders, ask questions and sign up as a volunteer 
  • Making parents and carers aware that inclusion is important at Girlguiding and that we want all girls to receive the same great guiding experience. 

Depending on the capacity in your area, you could run taster sessions of any size and it could be for an entire area or for a section.  

Unit leaders can use the information about the young people on the waiting list from GO to invite them. For example, if you’re running a district, division or county-wide event, then the unit leaders will be responsible for providing the contact details to the volunteers organising the taster session. The volunteers need to have the appropriate level of A Safe Space training.    

Depending on your resources, how big you want your event to be and when you want to have it, you can organise a taster session in any way you like.  

Running an event in-person means you’ll to have face-to-face contact with parents and carers. It’ll give i them the opportunity to ask any questions they might have, and it’ll give you the chance to meet the young people on the waiting list. It can be as simple as inviting them to a unit meeting, but could be a much larger event too, if it’s with your district, division or county. 

Virtual taster sessions are a great option too. They’re a fantastic way to involve lots of girls with not many resources. You can use the skills and enthusiasm from the pandemic lockdowns and running unit meetings virtually for a one-off virtual taster session. There’s a selection of virtual games from our Adventures At Home resources to inspire some activities within your session.  

You can be as adventurous as you want to be when planning your in-person taster session. You might want to go to a local Activity Centre, host a sports day or have a circus themed games night.  

 Whatever the type of event and its size, you’ll need to make sure you get consent from parents and carers of the young people on the waiting list. When you’re using any of our forms for these events, some of the information, like membership numbers, won’t be relevant. You might want to make this clear in your communications or send out a partially complete form that has most of the information already filled out.  

Like any event, you’ll need to carry out a risk assessment for all the activities and think about any adjustments that will need to be made for people with accessibility needs.  

How one area held an in-person taster session

Claire King, growth and development officer from Ulster ran an open day for girls on their waiting lists in September 2021.  

They hosted an open day for 90 girls and their families so they could see what Girlguiding was about and keep them excited while they were on the waiting list. The open day was free of charge for the participants because it was held at Ulster’s Girlguiding HQ.  

They sent the invite to all girls on the waiting lists and the spaces for the event were all filled within 24 hours so they ran a second event the week afterwards. 

All the people that came could take part in activities like high ropes, archery, a fairy trail and carnival games. There was something for everyone! The staff and volunteers could chat with the girls and their parents and carers to find out if there were any opportunities to join a unit that had spaces, rather than stay on the waiting list . Lots of district, division and county commissioners came along and they could help answer any questions that came up. They found that having face-to-fact contact with the parents meant it was easier to follow up with any queries after the events.  

At the end of the two weekends, more than 50% of the girls who attended are now active young members. The event even got a couple of adults to sign up to be a volunteer! 

There’s already a collection of great resources for you to use to organise a virtual taster session from virtual activities for Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers. And we have ideas and activities for all ages as well. 

When organising any online guiding, follow our digital policies and procedures. Girlguiding is committed to safeguarding our members, volunteers and staff. It’s our policy to apply the same high level of safeguarding to online activities as we do in person. Take a look at these webpages if you’re organising a virtual session:  

 Virtual taster session email template 

Dear [name], 

Thank you so much for booking a place on our [event] on [date] – we’re really looking forward to seeing you there! 

In advance of the event, please find some important information below: 

  • Please join via the below link at [time], where you will be placed in a waiting room before being granted access to the event. This will ensure that we’re able to start the event promptly at [time]. Please do not share these details with anyone else:  [meeting link] 
  • Please ensure that you join using the name and email address that you registered under, as access to the event will only be granted to those members who are on the list.  
  • Upon joining, and throughout the event (unless otherwise advised) please ensure that your microphone is on mute. 
  • For girls participating in the event individually, as agreed upon booking, a parent/carer should remain in the room throughout the event to ensure that they receive the necessary support. Please also remind yourself of our virtual meeting guidance which can be found here [insert link to consent form]. We ask you to be particularly mindful of your young member’s use of the chat function. 
  • If you didn’t grant photo/video permissions for yourself or your child, please keep your camera on upon joining so that we can verify your identity. Then, when the event begins at [time], please feel free to turn off your camera. 
  • Any [meeting specific details for example any materials, pre-reading or resources]  
  • If you need any help on the day of the event, please contact [insert contact name and number or email]. 
  • For any accessibility needs, please contact [insert contact name and number] in advance of the meeting. 

Best wishes, 
[name and role] 

Communication with girls waiting to join  

Young members can stay on a waiting list for a long time, so  communicating with them and their parents or carers is a great way to keep them engaged. It will keep them interested and excited to join and also encourage parents and carers to keep their records up to date too, so when they’re ready to join it’ll be a quick and easy process.  

There are lots of interesting things you can include in any communications with your waiting lists, including: 

How one area kept in contact with people on their waiting lists 

In June 2021, North West England region decided to manage their waiting lists by sending a quarterly mailing to all parents and carers of young people on the waiting list in their region.  

They started with Rainbows and Brownies waiting lists in the first quarter, moving on to Guides and Rangers in the following quarter. They’re repeating this every six months.  

They wanted to make sure parents and carers were still interested in their girls being on the waiting list, that their details were correct and to ask parents and carers if they, or the young person in their care, wanted to consider a different unit. They found it was a great way to keep lines of communication open with parents on the waiting list too.  

In the same mailing they also sent out activity packs for the young people to keep them engaged in Girlguiding.  

North West England had one of their region staff members to manage it. 

Volunteer recruitment

From unit helpers to county commissioners, we’re always ready to welcome new volunteers. And getting more volunteers involved in your area will help reduce waiting lists.  

Running recruitment drives can be a great way to increase the number of volunteers in your area. To run a great recruitment campaign, you should:  

  • Identify where you need new team members 
  • Run a recruitment drive in your area 
  • Get parents involved, by starting a parents rota, or asking them to help with specific admin tasks 
  • Give your new volunteers a warm welcome   

National recruitment campaigns

We run national recruitment campaigns for both volunteers and girls. They’re usually managed by HQ, with toolkits being created for you to use locally.  

Before a national recruitment campaign, you might be asked to provide information on the areas you need more volunteers in. To have the most impact in your area, you need to have the best idea of where you need volunteers. A breakdown of the unit data for your area is shared in Our Plan. This is a useful tool in helping you make decisions on what areas or sections need the most support. The Our Plan data should be shared by your country/region office, so get in touch with them to find out more. 

Local recruitment drives 

Local recruitment drives are a great way to engage your local community with Girlguiding, and get more volunteers supporting your unit. And more volunteers means more young people can get involved.  

Social media is a really useful platform for running recruitment campaigns because you can focus on your local community. Or if Girlguiding groups in your area rely on traditional ways of recruiting volunteers then test out online recruitment to reach new communities of potential volunteers. 

Advertising volunteer roles online is a good way to recruit for ongoing roles in your unit and to find volunteers with specialist skills like graphic design, accounting or communications. 

Check out the Girlguiding guide to recruitment campaigns too. The step-by-step guide takes you through how to plan, run and evaluate a recruitment campaign.  

There are lots of ways to be creative and flexible when creating volunteer roles. If a volunteer can't volunteer regularly, don't turn them away because they can still get involved. When you’re speaking with people who are interested in volunteering, find out what their availability, skills and interests are and try and place them in a role that suits them the most.  

Here are some ideas to make volunteering flexible: 

  • More volunteers means more spaces for young people in your unit: Creating a rota for volunteers in your unit could work for people who can’t commit to the same time every week. Instead, they can attend unit meetings when they can. If you can fill one unit helper role with a few volunteers, you can increase your unit numbers and welcome new members.  
  • Specific volunteer roles: If there’s someone that might not be able to commit to regularly volunteering, what flexible roles are out there? Maybe they could help with admin or looking after GO in their own time or on a rota basis. 
  • Training new leaders to open more units: If you already have a set of reliable and enthusiastic unit helpers, you might want to ask them to train as unit leaders so  the area can open a new unit or support an existing unit can get some extra help. 
  • Growth volunteers: There’s already a huge network of growth volunteers in Girlguiding. They’re a fantastic way to focus on waiting lists in an area that isn’t specific to a unit. They can be a great support for commissioners and this role gives someone the opportunity to try a different role in Girlguiding, where they might not want to be as hands-on with the girls. You can ask your local commissioner if you have a local growth volunteer, and how to get in touch with them.  
  • Temporary support volunteers: Creating a group of volunteers from existing, experienced leaders, who you can call upon when required, can be a great way to keep units open during times when there are less volunteers. This might be covering for someone taking a break after having a baby, someone who’s going to be poorly for a while or while new volunteers are being trained.  
  • Volunteers to provide one-to-one support for disabled adults and young members: We have volunteer roles for disabled adults and young members, or members with health conditions or significant support needs. You could either recruit someone with specialist knowledge or help an existing member to upskill with help from the Accessible guiding grant.  

There are also some great ideas and resources, like this promotional video, which you can share with anyone interested in volunteering. As well as providing flexible volunteering, running a flexible unit might be an option. This could be setting up a holiday, weekend or virtual unit.  

Getting parents to help out, even if it’s just every so often, can make your workload smaller. It can also help more units open, giving more girls the opportunity to be a part of Girlguiding. 

As soon as girls join, let parents and carers know about all the opportunities available to them. This can be the best way to get them involved. Lots of parents and carers don’t realise that Girlguiding is entirely volunteer-led and that volunteers are people just like them - with jobs, families and lots of other responsibilities! 

There are lots of ways parents and carers can support a unit. For example, they could help set up the venue by putting chairs and tables out, get out activities, help take registers, forms and subs, or even just carrying boxes to and from your vehicles to the meeting place. You might find that parents are happy to do this weekly or on a rota basis with other parents. 

How one unit leader gets parents involved 

’I make clear in the welcome email that there are many ways people can support the unit. We have parents in lots of roles from administrator to treasurer, to purchasers, activity researcher and even social media manager! We also have a parent who co-ordinates a helper rota. Parents contact her to be included on the rota and this is included in the emails sent out when term starts.

'We encourage those interested in a regular commitment to come along to a couple of meetings, then to sign up on GO to become a unit helper. In my units we provide a member t-shirt for people who help at least once a month, once the recruitment disclosure checks are complete. This gives them a sense of identity at meetings and makes them to feel part of the team.’ 

Flexible units

We want to welcome as many girls as possible to the world of Girlguiding. There are lots of ways that flexible units can help this happen.  

We’ve put together some flexible guiding so there’s a consistent approach to waiting list management across Girlguiding.  

In lots of areas, waiting lists sometimes mean that young members who want to join might not have a place in a unit until they’re nearly old enough to join the next section. Setting up flexible units can mean that girls on the waiting list get a taste of guiding before they join a more regular unit. It also means that girls and volunteers from lots of different background can because a flexible unit works better for them. For example: 

  • There’s not a unit for their age group in their local area  
  • They’ve got other commitments, like studies and caring to do, which means they can’t attend meetings as often 
  • It’s hard to get transport to and from meetings 
  • An illness or disability makes it hard to attending meetings regularly 
  • They don’t enjoy spending lots of time in large groups 
  • Access to a venue might be limited 
  • They’re on a waiting list for another unit in your local area.

Having flexible units means that we can offer all the benefits of being a Girlguiding member in a way that fits around the girls’ and volunteers’ needs, and when they have time. And it’s full of the same great guiding opportunities.  

Weekend or monthly units 

A weekend or monthly unit is a great way to help keep young members on waiting list interested in guiding until a space becomes available in their chosen unit. Some young members and their parents and carers might also prefer this style of meeting and choose to continue that this unit instead.  

Weekend and monthly units will also work well for other people who want to volunteer for us but who can’t on a weekday evening.  

And units can be run during the day for longer periods of time, and maybe less frequently for more flexibility 

Choosing between opening a weekend or monthly unit will depend on the how many people can volunteer and the when your venue is available.  

How one area set up a weekend unit 

In 2018, Cardiff and East Glamorgan county had long waiting lists for their Brownie units and some might not being able to join until they were eight of nine-years-old. So they  set up a Saturday unit.  

The Saturday unit takes place once a month, from 10:30am to 1pm, and it’s run by seven volunteers. They offered spaces to young people who might not get the chance to experience Brownies before they were old enough to join Guides. 

Before attending the unit, it’s agreed with parents and carers and the unit leaders that if a space becomes available in the unit that the young person was on the waiting list for, they’d be welcome to move and go to that unit instead.  

But. in practice, they’ve have found girls mostly stayed with the Saturday unit until they were old enough to transition to Guides, either because they enjoyed it or because spaces in the regular unit never became free. It makes the Saturday unit even more important.   

Fortnightly units 

In a fortnightly unit, members are split into two groups, each one coming in every two weeks. It doubles how many members can join your unit and adds some extra flexibility for volunteers and parents. 

Fortnightly units are a great solution if your venue capacity or the number of volunteers is what’s stopping more girls to join your unit.  

Running a fortnightly unit also gives you the chance to run bigger events with both groups. You can then ask parents, or any occasional volunteers, to help out for the event so that the adult to child ratios are met. 

Holiday units  

Similar to weekend units, holiday guiding is a fantastic way to engage girls on your waiting list in a way that goes beyond what happens in a regular unit meeting. Instead of running a weekly unit, a term’s worth of programme is condensed and run during one week of the school holidays. It could be in the summer, over Christmas or Easter or during half term holidays. And it could mean that young leaders and students returning home from university can help out too. 

Trying out a new venue can make a big difference. A different meeting place might have newer facilities, more space, be more inclusive for girls of all faiths and none, easier to travel to, and better for accessibility. 

Options to try 

  • Community venues: Lots of units meet in school halls and community centres, but  charity cafes or consortium spaces could be another option Another charity might let you use its venue at a reduced rate,  you could also use a library with closed of area of see if a leisure centre has space. 
  • Corporate venues: Venues owned by businesses, like hotels and conferences centres, sometimes  have large spaces and halls  which could be hired out for a reduced rate.  
  • Supermarkets: Some supermarkets have attached community rooms that you could book. 
  • Workplace venues: After work hours, a conference and meeting rooms could work really well as a meeting place. Chat to parents and people from local businesses to see what they could offer. 
  • Rotating venues: If you're in a small county, or large district or division, and you're having trouble reaching some girls, try having a venue rota and visit a different space every week. One unit in Scotland does this, and although it means not all girls go to every meeting,  young people who wouldn’t experience guiding at all otherwise can be members.. It also means they can change venues depending on the activity,  for example some halls have better kitchens. 
  • Girlguiding venues: Has your county got a venue which could be used a few times a week?

When looking at a new venue you can use a new venue checklist. Before deciding to hire a venue,  carry out a risk assessment to make sure it's safe. You’ll need to think about the different people who may wish to go to your unit and try and find a venue that doesn't create physical, cultural or social barriers for anyone.  

Don’t be afraid to negotiate the rent 

If you are hiring a venue, remember that Girlguiding is a charity so see if they can offer a reduced rate.  

How one unit negotiate what they pay

County commissioner Tracey’s unit had met at the same church group for 23 years and even though the church moved location, the unit was able to move with them. Before Covid-19, the church just asked for donations and the unit normally gave between £150-£250 a year. As the unit didn’t meet during 2020, and the church lost other youth groups, Tracey was told that from September 2021 her unit would be charged £15.50 per hour – a huge increase for a unit in an area deprived of money. The unit would struggle and were at risk of closing so she put together a plan. 

  • She asked parents and carers for feedback (out of 15 parents and carers, only three said they could afford the rise) 
  • She wrote to the church committee asking for a meeting 
  • She asked all the leaders from other groups to come to the meeting and put together the facts 
  • At the meeting she spoke to the committee about how Girlguiding helps the community, the impact the costs would have on the unit  and how units in other venues close by could offer the same guiding for much less 
  • Tracey also used examples of some families losing their jobs or being furloughed and explained how, for most girls, Brownies was the only activity they did 
  • She also mentioned the opportunities guiding gives girls and Girlguiding’s values.

Tracey asked them what they were charging other groups including the drama and dance group and asked for a charity rate too. The committee said that they’d only have to pay £10 a week. It’s worth reminding venues what Girlguiding does, we’re not just another after school club. Guiding is helps the whole community and it gives girls can have fun, go on adventures and discover their potential. 


Online guiding is a great way to have fun and try new challenges. It can also provide a way to keeping young people on the waiting lists engaged and active in guiding.  

Online guiding is a great way to have fun and try new challenges. It can also provide a way to keeping young people on the waiting lists engaged and active in guiding. 

Help and resources for setting up a virtual unit 

Setting up a virtual unit is a lot like setting up an in-person unit: 

  • Find volunteers to run and support the unit  
  • Decide on a date and time to meet  
  • Choose a platform to meet on 
  • Register your unit on GO. Register your unit with ‘virtual’ in its name. For example, 1st Edinburgh Virtual Rainbows. You can use your county/division office as the registered address. You should chat with your commissioner when making this decision. 
  • Invite young members to join 

Our Adventures at home hub has lots ideas and activities, that you can share with young members. We also have advice on adapting and using programme materials in your virtual meetings. 

Make sure you check our digital safeguarding policy before setting up any online activities with girls or volunteers. And remember that our code of conduct also covers how you need to behave online. When creating your virtual unit, you need to follow our safe online guiding policy, which includes: 

  • Having at least two adult volunteers in the meeting. 
  • At least one adult volunteer having, or be working towards, their Leadership qualification and has a current disclosure check (DBS/Access NI/PVG).  
  • At least one adult volunteer having completed Level 3 of A Safe Space training. 
  • Any volunteer who doesn't need a disclosure check for their role being supervised by someone with a current disclosure check. 
  • No one-to-one contact between a volunteer and a young member through digital tools or messages. 
  • Completing a virtual meeting checklist and risk assessment before running online meetings. 

How one area set up a virtual unit 

In June 2020, Gwent county in Cymru set up a virtual Brownie unit to give girls on the waiting lists and girls who could not attend unit meetings in person guiding opportunities.  

The county commissioner found out that there were young people on their waiting lists that would never get into units in their areas before they were old enough to move to the next section. The  Gwent county team emailed parents and carers of seven-year-olds directly. They found it was time consuming but worth it!  

They had a small group to start with, so posted about the unit on Facebook and had more girls joined. Meetings were fortnightly and some Brownies were from areas beyond their county.  

Occasionally, on the weeks the virtual unit doesn’t meet, the leaders set up a laptop or tablet at their in-person unit meetings and invite the virtual Brownies to attend their face-to-face meetings via Zoom. Activity packs are sent out to the virtual unit girls before the meeting and a volunteer spends their time with the virtual Brownies throughout the meeting.  

Virtual guiding can be a great option to keep your meetings going if your unit can’t meet face-to-face ever week, or if you want to offer a mix of online and in-person sessions. But there are lots of reasons your unit might choose to meet virtually, whether it’s a one off or a regular way to hold meetings. It’s great if the weather means in-person guiding isn’t possible, there’s an emergency at your venue, leaders are ill, or it suits your unit to run a mixture of in-person and virtual sessions.  

Choosing a hybrid structure can be beneficial for you as a leader, but also suit the needs of your young members.  

How one unit meets virtually and in-person 

19th Belfast Ranger Unit in Ulster have a flexible unit where they meet in-person and virtually in a two-week pattern. Because of their age and the stage members were in at school, like doing exams, holding every other meeting virtually gives them time to concentrate on their studies and not have to take the time out to travel to the in-person meetings each week.