How to reopen a Rainbow unit

How Marie brought Rainbows back to her area

31 May 2022

It’s always sad when a unit has to close but it’s exciting when it gets to reopen.

1st Thornton Heath Rainbows closed before the pandemic as the leader moved away and no volunteers stepped forward to run the unit.

Marie, a Brownie leader and now the Rainbow leader of 1st Thornton Heath, explained that ‘the number of Brownies and Guides were falling in the area, partly because of the pandemic but also there were no Rainbow units feeding into the Brownies’. 

Marie spoke to her commissioner and explained her concerns. She also offered to reopen the unit and her commissioner arranged for the unit to be reopened on GO (the membership database), so that new enquiries could find the unit. Marie attended the ‘Ask a leader’ webinar so she could find out more about taking in 4-year-old Rainbows as a way to grow the unit. She picked up all sorts of tips on how to include 4-year-olds, especially on how to adapt the programme.

Recruiting the leadership team

Finding volunteers to open a unit can be challenging. Marie overcame this by speaking to others in the division. Some volunteers stepped forward to help on an ad-hoc basis, but it meant that the unit always has a leader with A Safe Space and 1st Response. There is also a new to guiding unit helper and a young DofE volunteer who is thinking about becoming a young leader. The unit reopened in September 2021 and currently have seven Rainbows with two joining soon.

Taking in 4-year-olds

After attending the ‘Ask a leader’ event, Marie and her new leadership team decided that they would start to take in 4-year-olds to increase their unit numbers. They now have one 4-year-old, who started school at the same time.

Her advice on settling in a 4-year-old is to ‘take it slowly and make sure she has a buddy specially to help her with the games they play. The older Rainbows seem to enjoy helping her. She is settling in well, although sometimes it takes a little time each week before she’s confident with joining in everything.’

Marie also found that some of the older girls need more help with the activities than the 4-year-old so it’s important to treat each girl individually. She finds having a quiet activity available for the shy Rainbows to do, whilst they ‘watch’ the more confident girls carrying out noisier activities, makes them want to join in with all the fun.