Flexible volunteering

Written by Heather Smith, Lead Volunteer for Digital

We know that guiding can take up a lot of time, effort and resource for our volunteers. Guiding should be accessible and achievable for all our volunteers, and there are lots of ways to be involved if you don't have a huge amount of free time or can't make a regular commitment.

Over the last few months we've been asking you for examples of flexible volunteering that's happening in your own units. In our new series, we're going to be looking at some of the examples you shared.

Changing rotas

4th Wanstead Guides have a group of four leaders who jointly run the unit, and two of them work shifts so aren’t able to commit to coming along to Guides every week. Once their shifts have been confirmed, the four leaders get together to plan the next few weeks, looking at the activities the Guides want to do and working out which ones could be run during meetings with less leaders. They can also then plan for trips and visits when they know all four leaders will be able to attend.

We've worked out a system which means all of our volunteers are able to be part of our unit even if they're not able to physically be there every week. With a bit of planning and organisation, we're able to run the activities the Guides want to do without them ever having to miss out on anything.

— Sarah, leader, 4th Wanstead Guides

Coming along at the weekend

For some people, attending Rainbows, Brownies, Guides or Rangers meetings just isn’t possible due to work schedules and family commitments. 1st Shalford Brownies have a group of parents who instead help out at weekend events or trips.

"It's been great to have the extra help from three of our parents," says Hannah, one of the Brownie leaders and county commissioner for Girlguiding Surrey West. "One used to be a Brownie leader but now works long hours in London. Of my other leaders, one works weekends and the other has a long term health problem which means we don't have enough leaders to be able to take the Brownies away for special trips or events at weekends."

Hannah, one of the Brownie leaders and County Commissioner for Girlguiding Surrey West, says "It's been great to have the extra help from three of our parents. One used to be a Brownie leader but now works long hours in London. Of my other leaders, one works weekends and the other has a long term health problem which means we don't have enough leaders to be able to take the Brownies away for special trips or events at weekends, so it's been a great relief to know we can plan the sorts of events the Brownies love. Some of the places we've taken the Brownies include PGL (which works really well for taking away a team that may not have the experience to do a residential from scratch), the pantomime and Girlguiding Surrey West’s ‘Little Gig’ which the girls loved!"


It's been a great relief to know we can plan the sorts of events the Brownies love.

— Hannah, leader, 1st Shalford Brownies and County Commissioner, Girlguiding Surrey West

"Some of the places we've taken the Brownies include PGL (which works really well for taking away a team that may not have the experience to do a residential from scratch), the pantomime and Girlguiding Surrey West county's 'Little Gig', which the girls loved!

Helping with finances

Gill and David have looked after the accounts for 3rd Tonbridge Guides since 2016. "Our daughter, Heather, manages the unit and was finding it hard to keep on top of the admin side of things on top of her full time job", they explain. "We offered to help out with the accounts as it was quite easy to look after these in isolation, and although it took us a while to work out a system that worked for us all, we now have a good arrangement in place using emails and a shared Google Doc. All the paper receipts and statements are passed to us, so we can keep the master spreadsheet updated and make sure we've got all the paperwork we need".

“Our daughter, Heather, manages the unit and was finding it hard to keep on top of the admin-side of things on top of her full-time job. We offered to help out with the accounts as it was quite easy to look after these in isolation, and although it took us a while to work out a system that worked for us all we now have a good arrangement in place using emails and a shared google doc. All the paper receipts and statements are passed to us, so we can keep the master spreadsheet updated and make sure we've got all the paperwork we need. The accounts are now kept regularly updated, leaving more time for Heather to keep on top of all the other admin that comes with running a Guide unit!”


The accounts are now kept regularly updated, leaving more time for Heather to keep on top of all the other admin that comes with running a Guide unit!

— Gill and David

4th Wanstead Guides also have a volunteer who does the unit finances and banking for them, making it much easier for the other leaders to concentrate on the running of the unit. She has also done shopping for the unit in the past when the leaders haven’t had the time, highlighting how helpful it is to have another person ‘on call’ for when life gets a bit busy!

If your unit is helping our members to volunteer in ways that suit them, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at digital@girlguidinglaser.org.uk to share your story.

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