Use Your Voice 2016 - Why voice?


From 10 – 11 September 2016 Girlguiding LaSER will be hosting Use Your Voice 2016,a unique and dynamic 2-day democracy festival for members of The Senior Section celebrating The Senior Section Spectacular! For more information please see here.

Plans are well underway for Use Your Voice 2016, but why are we focusing on 'voice'?

Girlguiding LaSER is passionate about advocacy, campaigning and social action, all in their broadest sense.

We have a 'campaigning arm’ of older members of The Senior Section (16-26 year olds) called the Girlguiding LaSER Champions which was established a few years ago. The Girlguiding LaSER Champions formulate, plan and deliver their own campaigns, based on researched and developed ideas. They are all active in Girlguiding, as Leaders, Assistant Leaders, Young Leaders and more. They are closely in touch with the day-to-day functioning of Girlguiding units, as well as having a strategic overview of where the Region is heading, thanks to regular meetings and plenty of contact in between.

One of the many things Girlguiding LaSER Champions do is devise, design and deliver campaigns. They are currently planning two, both of which will launch in 2016: 'Keep Safe' is focused on internet safety for Rainbows & Brownies and will launch to tie in with Safer Internet Day in February. '#Take10' is focused on dealing with stress and will link in with Girlguiding’s mental health resource.

The Champions also engage with national campaigns which take their interest. Some of them are or have been Girlguiding Advocates or Spokespeople, so they have the national perspective too.

The Girlguiding LaSER Champions are The Senior Section voice of Girlguiding LaSER. They receive relevant training for media, advocacy and campaigns, representing us at events and meetings and ensuring that the voice of our members is heard. They also attend external events to represent the voice of young women such as a hustings event run by the Fawcett Society in the run-up to the general election in May 2015, where they were able to put questions to Parliamentary candidates about issues which affect them.

Girlguiding LaSER Champions are also enabled to do 'Twitter takeovers' to tie in with their interests. Recent examples have included two members who were voting for the first time, followed by a take-over by a Champion who is interested in tax whilst the 2015 budget was being announced.

We want to inspire our members to stand up for what they believe in; to learn to use their voice and be heard.

Social action is a key component of being part of Girlguiding and Girlguiding LaSER is keen to provide opportunities for members of The Senior Section to learn about new opportunities for them to give service through social action. Whether that means volunteering with a new group, using existing skills to support an organisation to grow, reaching out to encourage new members to join, we want to create platforms to enable The Senior Section to think about and engage with social action, in its broadest possible sense. Use Your Voice 2016 will kickstart Girlguiding LaSER's involvement in Girlguiding's pilot initiative, 'Action for Change' - more details will become available as they evolve.

Campaigning is one way to get involved with social action, which links in directly with programmes for all of our sections in Girlguiding.

Girlguiding LaSER is the only Region to have a Lead Volunteer for Advocacy. This role includes overseeing the Girlguiding LaSER Champions, networking on behalf of the Region and supporting Parliament Week in the Region.

In 2014, Girlguiding LaSER became a Parliament Week partner. Hopefully you've heard of Parliament Week, but in case you haven't, it is a branch of the House of Commons dedicated to linking with partners who deliver democracy-related activities within their organisations.

In 2014, Girlguiding LaSER held three major events - Explaining Campaigning was an event for members of The Senior Section, held at the Greater London Authority building. We heard from a range of dynamic young campaigners about their experiences, including feminist Yas Necati, Katie Percival (a Guide who set up her own campaign to challenge the way children's passports are issued, following her own experience of having a different surname to her mother), plus equality campaigner Polly Trenow & social media expert Sushi Juggapah.

We also held two debates in the House of Lords, one for Guides and another for The Senior Section, in partnership with the Foundation for International Collaboration, where members learnt about the workings of Parliament and debated a topical issue.

In 2015 Girlguiding LaSER encouraged unit Leaders to deliver Parliament Week and #DoDemocracy in their own units.

Units from all sections took part in Parliament Week and we were delighted to receive pictures of Rainbows making 'voice' collages, Brownies learning about leadership, Guides having a balloon debate, Senior Section starting petitions among many other brilliant activities.

It is fitting that Girlguiding LaSER is focussing on voice, campaigns and advocacy for The Senior Section Spectacular. We want to enable our members to think broadly about advocacy, engagement, campaigning and being heard in the most dynamic, innovative and creative ways. E-mail to get yourself onto the mailing list and we’ll tell you as soon as bookings open. You can also check The Senior Section News pages of our website for all the latest updates.

Helen Beecher Bryant

Lead Volunteer for Advocacy

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