'I want to make a positive contribution'

This #iWillWeek we’re celebrating young people taking part in social action. Here Lauren shares how she - and other young women in guiding – are making a difference to their communities.

Lauren, 16, Ranger
20 November 2017

This week is #iwillWeek.

From the 20 to 24 November schools, companies and organisations will come together to celebrate and promote youth participation in social action. They will be supporting the campaign to make it a part of life for every young person in the UK.

As a newly appointed #iwill ambassador I’ll be travelling to London for a celebration at the Tower of London, recognising the social action that us ambassadors are involved in and making the pledge (#iwill…) to endorse the numerous benefits of social action within society.

I was lucky enough to be awarded the role of #iwill ambassador through my participation in social action. This includes my contribution to Girlguiding as one of the youngest members of the national council, which oversees the running of the organisation as well as my work helping to design a new peer education resource and my role as a young leader. Outside of guiding I’ve recently begun a social action project related to helping children with long term medical conditions.

But what is social action?

Social action is about taking practical action to make a positive difference. In Girlguiding we’ve always described the practical actions that girls do to help other people as ‘community service’. ‘Social action’ is the term used by Step Up To Serve's #iwill campaign to encourage more young people in the UK to take action to help others. This is why we’re beginning to use the term in guiding, so that girls feel part of the bigger picture.

Why get involved?

I’m a strong advocate for the benefits that social action provides both young people and their communities. Not only does it encourage them to make a positive difference to society and help to improve social cohesion, it also supports them in developing independence, resilience, self-confidence and selflessness.

Where does guiding fit in with social action?

Every guiding member pledges to ‘serve their community’ from the moment they make their promise. The guiding programme promotes social action through four main channels:

  • Volunteering and community action- Girls are encouraged to help within their communities, volunteer at units as young leaders and may go on to support communities abroad
  • Fundraising- During meetings girls have the opportunity to organise fundraising activities for charities of their choice
  • Peer education and support- Girls can train as peer mentors, supporting others to learn about relevant issues or become a mentor or leader for other girls
  • Using our voice- Guiding gives girls the opportunity to speak out about things that matter to them and advocate for positive change. 

As a member of Girlguiding I’ve been fortunate to have numerous chances to participate in social action; since I started age 5 as a Rainbow, collecting change in empty smarties tube, to selling cakes for the local children’s charity as a Brownie and volunteering at community fundraising events such as village fetes as a Guide.

However I believe the most rewarding opportunity I have had is volunteering as a young leader at my local unit. It’s lovely to spend time with girls each week watching them grow in confidence. It’s a great way to give back to an organisation which has given me so much over the years and would definitely encourage any older guides to do the same- it’s a truly amazing feeling!

How can you get involved?

It’s easy! There are so many ways you can donate your time to make a positive difference to others. Why not hold a bake sale for charity, do a sponsored silence, make Christmas cards for a local old people’s home or make a petition to change something in your area? Anything, no matter how big or small, that will improve life for another person counts. You never know what your actions could mean to somebody.