Our school taster sessions worked a treat

Using school taster sessions, Alison, Development Worker in Lanarkshire, engaged more girls and doubled her numbers

In the following weeks we had an incredible 14 new girls join the unit!

Thanks to funding from Youth United, I help set up new groups in areas Girlguiding hasn't been before - or hasn't been for a long time - creating new and exciting opportunities for local girls.

Recently, I've worked with my local team to open several new units in Coatbridge, an industrial town just outside Glasgow with pockets of significant deprivation.

Making contact with girls

The 19A Coatbridge Brownies opened in September 2015. The unit had already organised a bring a friend night, but there were so many fantastic activities planned for the group, we wanted to reach out to as many local girls as possible.

I've been in guiding for over 20 years and had never come across the idea of school taster sessions. But when a colleague suggested it we thought 'why not?'

The Unit Leaders contacted several local schools, and the head teacher at a local primary agreed to let us run a Brownie session after school.

What we did at the taster session

We encouraged the girls already in the unit to invite their friends and planned a full range of lively activities for the session. These included a few getting-to-know-you games, looking at uniforms and badges, and getting crafty with ceramic painting.

The girls had an opportunity to meet the Leaders, and find out more about the fantastic things they could do at Brownies. We also gave them a goodie bag of stickers, balloons, sweets and fruit to take home – complete with all the information parents would need on how to register their daughter

Fantastic results every time

It was great to see girls from different year groups and classes mixing together and making new friends – in the following weeks we had an incredible 14 new girls join the unit!

Since April last year we've run a number of school taster sessions for Rainbow and Guide units in the area and they've been successful every time. The head teacher at one school has suggested we hold another taster session during school lunchtimes rather than after classes have finished. This way even more girls would be able to join us and they wouldn't be restricted by other commitments or transport arrangements.

Other ways to reach out to schools

There are lots of other ways to reach out to schools too – giving presentations during school assemblies or attending school fêtes and parents' evenings. In schools I have worked with, I've designed and distributed brightly-coloured flyers to advertise taster sessions to girls, which have been really effective.

Above all, it's important to plan, and create an environment where girls feel at ease – having current members attend really helps, as they talk openly about what they enjoy and are very good at encouraging new girls to join.

Looking to the future

Thanks to our work with local schools, we now have three new and thriving groups in the area with lots of exciting plans for the future.

Invite more girls to join Girlguiding

Get creative when recruiting more girls for your local units. Take a look at our ideas to get you started.