Hand in (helping) hand - social action and guiding

To celebrate #iwillWeek, leader Rosie Heaton – one of our amazing #iwill ambassadors – reflects on how social action has always been part of her guiding experience (even when she was a tiny Brownie!)

Rosie Heaton
23 November 2016

Getting myself stuck into social action is something that I’ve always loved doing - probably before I even knew it was called social action!

Social action is all about making a positive change – and as I’ve got older, I’ve realised just how much guiding enables girls to make a real difference to the world around them. 

Social action for every section

I first joined Girlguiding aged seven, when I started at Brownies. I loved being a Brownie – friends, fun and adventure. What more could I want? But looking back there was more to it than that. It was empowering because we were encouraged to challenge ourselves, through everything from snorkelling to rollerskating. We had the opportunity to make decisions and - most importantly - to make a difference to the lives of others.

I always joke that I never really left Brownies - in fact, fast forward a few years and I went back to my original group to help out! Over my years as a Leader, I have seen the impact that our young members can have on their local communities - getting involved at community days or gardening at a care home for the elderly.

The beauty of volunteering with Girlguiding, for me at least, is the fact that decisions are almost entirely girl-led. This gives girls the ability to choose what impact they want to make. 

Guiding gives back

Not only has Girlguiding offered me opportunities to take part in social action - my guiding friends have always supported me in my other endeavours.

For example, as a health campaigner, I began working in 2013 to try and get the meningitis B vaccine rolled out to all babies. My unit showed their support for making all people aware of the disease by giving me moral support, and girls took petitions home to share through their personal networks.

After years of campaigning and meetings at parliament, it was finally announced that the vaccine would indeed be rolled out to all babies as part of the immunisation schedule. I really couldn’t have done it without my girls helping me to spread the word and getting their friends and families on board.

Reaping the rewards

All this fantastic social action doesn’t just benefit those outside of guiding – it benefits girls too.

Today, the #iwill campaign has published research that has found young people who do social action are more likely to feel there would be someone there for them if they needed help. They’re also more likely to say that they're satisfied with their life. In fact, the research found the difference in life satisfaction between those who do social action and those who don’t is really similar to the difference for those who are happily in permanent employment, and those who are either out of work or seeking a new job.

This really shows that when you give your time and energy to helping others, you’re guaranteed to get something back.

Together we can

Girlguiding has been working with the #iwill campaign since it began, pledging to get more of its young members involved in social action. When I was nominated to become an #iwill ambassador - an advocate for youth social action - I jumped at the chance to get stuck in.

Social action is so incredibly important for the development of young people – and employers are now, more than ever, looking at skills gathered from social action as opposed to typical qualifications. This #iwillWeek, I’m urging any girls - whether you’re a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or member of The Senior Section - to think about the ways you can do social action in your area. Bake sales for charity, a pirate-themed fun run … the sky’s the limit!

And if you’re a Leader, take on some social action-themed activities in your unit, and help to showcase the great work you’re doing by tweeting us with the hashtag #iwillWeek.

We can make a difference, but we can only do it together. Let’s show everyone how great guiding is.

Tell us what you're doing this #iwillWeek

What kind of social action has your unit been up to? Let us know by tweeting @Girlguiding with the hashtag #iwillWeek