Our flexible Senior Section group enables girls to balance guiding and other commitments

UYSAF funding has enabled volunteers in Northern Ireland to set up a flexible Senior Section unit which fits around girls’ busy lives – Leader Miriam explains

 I would absolutely recommend this flexible set up – the girls can dip in and out as much or as little as they wish – it’s a programme for everyone!

I volunteer with the 1st Cullybackey Senior Section in Northern Ireland. We first opened in September 2014 and the group has gone from strength to strength ever since - we now have 18 members!

Our approach is very flexible - the girls meet monthly and keep in touch online in the meantime. This has opened guiding up to older girls who might not be able to commit to the same day, each week, every week.

When starting the group we were mindful that older girls have lots of other things going on in their lives - from exams and coursework at school, to other clubs and burgeoning social commitments.

Catherine, a member of the group said:

I’ve been a member of Girlguiding for a long time but as you get older it gets harder to find the time, balancing school and other commitments.
The flexibility of our Senior Section means we can arrange to meet at a time that works for everyone in the group. The best thing I’ve done with the group is organising a hockey tournament for a local Guide group – it was so rewarding to see the event come together and see the girls having a great time.

The girls follow the normal Senior Section programme and there are so many opportunities available to them from international trips to peer education and social action.

For example, the group recently raised funds for Bravehearts NI – a local charity set up to support teenagers and young adults with Congenital Heart Disease.

The charity is close to our hearts as two of our members have a cousin who suffers from the disease and is a founding member. We also have a member, Emma, who has undergone several operations for Congenital Heart Disease and has spoken to the group about her experiences.   

The group’s flexible set up means the girls can dip in and out as much or as little as they wish – it’s a programme for everyone.

It’s also reduced our waiting lists for Guides and the group are challenged by a programme that is more suited to their age group and availability. 

Rebecca, a member of the group said:

Because our Senior Section group is flexible, it’s easier to work around schoolwork and exams. I can miss a week without feeling like I’ve missed out, because we keep in touch online.
I joined Girlguiding around seven years ago – my friend asked me to come along for an evening and I loved it. I’ve made so many good friends through guiding.

What is UYSAF?

The Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund (UYSAF) brought guiding to girls who had never had the opportunity before.