AIBU to put an end to the local giude unit?

(68 Posts)
badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:07:45

I agreed about three or four years ago to help out at the local guide unit. There were four others already on the team but one wanted to retire after many years' volunteering.

Since then, the next most experienced left pretty swiftly (maybe one year after the first), then another one left for understandable work-related reasons. Now another is leaving in January because her work has moved offices so she feels she can't make the journey and there's just me left from that original team. The only other person to join is in the services and wont' be staying in the area long.

The thing is... i really don't enjoy leading the unit meetings, I always did all the paperwork but i prefer to take a supporting role in the main meetings and don't enjoy keeping control of girls or keeping the activities on-track and to be honest they sort of run amok with me as I am too soft on them. I really wanted to leave before my co-volunteer did but I didn't want to land her in it. Now she's going i'm the one landed in it angry.

I dont' want to be responsible for this whole unit... but there are 25girls in it and a waiting list of about 10 and it's been going for decades and i really don't want to be the one that ends it all sad

Oh god... what am i going to do???? i didn't sleep a wink last night after the unit meeting as i'm aware the unit needs a lot of work to get it back on track and i'm a pretty shit guider anyway sad

WIBU to pack it in???

YDdraigGoch Thu 29-Nov-12 14:56:29

Oh, that's OK then - I forgot about the other Guider.

I feel sorry that you've been put in this position. There are four of us running our Brownie unit, and we all have particular responsibilities. I know at least two of the team would not want to carry on in charge in the same situation, though they love helping out and organising crafty activities.

I hope the situation is resolved soon - good luck. x

badguider Thu 29-Nov-12 14:21:14

don't worry, the parent wouldn't be sole charge when i am away but second person with the other guider (the one who is in the services and probably moving away early next year)... with 25 guides we can't have just one adult running a meeting anyway!

YDdraigGoch Thu 29-Nov-12 13:59:51

Great news - keep nagging the DC so she doesn't take her eye off the ball!

Just one tiny thing - I don't think you can leave a parent in charge if you go on holiday - doesn't there have to be a qualified Guider present at each meeting? Parents left alone with girls would at least have to be CRB's by Guiding.
I would ask DC to ask someone else to cover meetings when you want to have a holiday. The parent could run the meeting, the Guider would just have to be there.

JennyWren Thu 29-Nov-12 13:23:57

Good for you for getting in touch with the DC. I'm glad that she got back to you quickly. Copying their programme for a term is a brilliant idea. Also - do you have a Ranger unit in your area? Can you ask them to come along to run an evening for you, as part of a plan to show your Guides where they can go next.

What about contacting the local secondary schools and asking to speak to whoever co-ordinates Duke of Edinburgh (there is usually a scheme going on in schools) and offering your unit as a place where their students can volunteer their time for their community service element of the scheme.

Also, can you make yourself available to help with the recruitment of new adult volunteers? I don't mean to say take it over, but could you suggest an evening when your programme is particularly exciting, and suggest that if the DC or you contact the local paper, would they send someone along to take some pictures of the Guides having fun, and then looking sad as they explain that without more adults their unit may have to fold?

Do you have a waiting list? You can email every parent of a girl old enough (or nearly old enough) to join, and offer an immediate place if they will agree to help - and ask the other units locally to offer the same if a parent will help you out.

Your parents rota could also be helpful - if you find someone who is really good, you could ask them to help with a longer term project, coming in every couple of weeks for a whole term. You would get a more consistent help, they have a short-term timescale. But they might get the bug and stay on afterwards...

Finally, what about other units in your district or division? Are any of the other units over-resourced - would a leader agree to be seconded to you for a term or two until a new leader is found? Whast about the Trefoil Guild - often there are 'retired' Guiders who would be happy to come back on a rota, or to share a craft skill perhaps that you could weave into a project lasting a term or so.

Ask for your DC's help in actioning these, if you think that they are ideas that might work that she hasn't already explored. Your Guides could maybe write a letter asking for the help, that your DC can pass on for you?

badguider Wed 28-Nov-12 22:11:20

Hi i'm back. thanks for the help so far....

DC responded that she knows we are really short with my colleague leaving, and she's actively doing all she can to recruit a new guider or two.. i do believe her... but she's a busy lady too (a hospital doctor).

She asked what else she could do (apart from find a new leader) so i basically asked if we could copy her programme for next term and all her activities so i don't have to think of any (or worry about whether they're good enough) blush

I'm also going to instigate a parent rota. One night a year per girl (we only meet about 30nights a year). Alphabetical order by first name. Each girl needs to bring a responsible adult over the age of 18 (mum, dad, sibling, grandparent). Younger siblings can come and join in or sit and do their own thing if childcare is an issue... i'm going to have to be hardline.. i just really hope they do it without moaning as i really don't need the stress of a fight about this.

Parent rota means we can cover sickness absence and holidays (i go away out of school hols as dont' have school age children) and that when we're all present we can give the time required to the newest and oldest guides.

All feels a bit more manageable... though I still would really like a break.. we're ttc so if successful i will be finishing up long before my due date!

BartletForTeamGB Wed 28-Nov-12 15:51:40
BartletForTeamGB Wed 28-Nov-12 15:51:35

"However, what is the rule now about CRB checking? I was a leader some time ago and we were talking about the need to have parents checked through the system - I presume this is the case now."

Occasional helpers (those who help less frequently than a couple of times a month) do not need to have a CRB check, but they should not be left on their own with the girls and should have read through the Safeguarding Policy.

http://guidingmanual.guk.org.uk/default.aspx?page=383

Euphemia Wed 28-Nov-12 15:50:57

She's in southern Scotland.

YDdraigGoch Wed 28-Nov-12 15:50:08

Badguider - where abouts in the country are you?

YDdraigGoch Wed 28-Nov-12 15:49:05

I'd wait a week before I chased her up. She should at least acknowledge your email, even if she doesn't yet have the solution to the problem.

A phone call might be better though - that way she can't duck out, and you can sort things out there and then.

Euphemia Wed 28-Nov-12 15:46:42

Dotty which region are you in?

Librarina Wed 28-Nov-12 15:23:04

Thanks for starting this thread as I'm in almost exactly the same boat. I started Guiding as an adult because I didn't think I had a right to moan about kids hanging around on street corners if I wasn't prepared to offer them something to do. I've been running a similar sized unit to yours for 10+ years and I'm fed up with so much of it, primarily the lack of support from parents and the being taken-for-granted by the church.

Sometimes it's amazing, the girls are bright, funny, smart and I love spending time with them. Sometimes it's a real drag, the girls are whingy, quarrelsome, demanding and no-one says thank you. Sometimes I'm buzzing with ideas and deliver fabulous creative sessions that enrich & enhance their lives. Sometimes I'm tired after work and we make bloody cornflake cakes again.

The thing that's stopping me quitting, and that's stopped me every winter for the past few years (it's always winter when I feel like this) is the thought that once upon a time, someone gave up their Monday nights for me, and hopefully some of these girls will remember me and the fun we have together and might do something similar in their communities.

If you think about all the people who don't help you'd end up screaming and if I get told one more time about chairs being dragged on the polished floor I might actually cry.

Anyway, I'm making a note of the good advice on this thread and if it turns out I can't juggle new baby, Division Secretary and the Unit I'll use it to find a new balance.

Sirzy Wed 28-Nov-12 15:19:40

I have only skim read the thread so sorry if I am repeating something.

It isn't up to you to find a replacement, offer help to do so of course but it is up to the officers (or whatever they are called in the guides) above you to oversee the process of recruiting new leaders, they should be able to access things like Just Do It to advertise to new volunteers if their is nobody who is already a member.

Same goes for ensuring they are in a position to take over, that shouldn't fall onto you to sort but onto the district officers to ensure the replacement is adequatly supported.

I think it is very easy to expect too much from volunteers and they need to appreciate that you don't wish to go any further than the level you are at now.

YDdraigGoch Wed 28-Nov-12 15:15:09

Brownie Guider here, and speak from expeirence...
1. Do a parents' rota straight away. Tell parents they have to help if they want Guides to continue. With 25 girls, it will be max 2x per year. Tell them that if they can't help on "their" night, it is their responsibility to find someone who can - can be anyone, another parent, or a friend or relation.
2. Approach parents who appear to be good with the girls when they help out and ask them if they'd be prepared to help more often - use flattery
3. Tell the District Commissioner that you won't accept any more girls into the unit until they have found you some help. This could be Young Leaders as well as adults.
Tell them you will pack it in on a certain date if they haven't found any help for you by then - though give them several months notice, as it takes a while
4. Don't accept any new girls, so that the unit will naturally shrink to a size you might feel more comfortable with
5. Ask parents if, instead of helping at weekly meetings, would they take on responsibility for shopping for materials, doing the accounts, researching activities etc, to minimise your workload
6. Tell the girls there might be a problem and ask them to work on any adults they know who might be suitable, to find some other helpers
7. Put notes in the local press, in schools, youth clubs, leisure centres, anywhere - say it doesn't have to be a regular thing - you can devise rotas where people help out once a month or something
8. Organise as many weekly meetings away from the usual meeting place as possible, to reduce your workload. ie swimming, bowling, chinese restaurant, visit fire station, etc etc
9. Approach other Guide units in your area to see if any can merge with yours (may be in a similar position, or very small or something) - or there may be some Guiders nearby who would/could change nights.

It isn't your problem - this is a problem for the District Commissioner to sort out!

I am in Scotland and a warranted guider, been thinking about starting up again! I left after uni as I had never had a Friday night off since I joined as a Brownie! Miss it a lot!

madwomanintheattic Wed 28-Nov-12 15:04:32

Katisha, we are parent volunteers running the things.

I don't expect all parents to help - I don't get involved with all the stuff my kids do - not enough hours in the day - and the kids that get the most out of it in my unit are often the ones whose parents are unable to volunteer.

It's ok to say 'I can't help out', but there has to be a level of understanding that the woman in the blue shirt with her hand up is in the same position - she has another two kids at home that she's had to farm out, she's holding down a job, and she's already spent her entire weekend planning a camp. It really doesn't matter if you can't. As long as you get that the woman in blue isn't superhuman either, and is choosing to put other bits of life on hold or rearrange them to be able to provide this service for the community.

That said, last year I had a parent volunteer to come along (there was just me myself and I.) and say the same - I'm not comfortable in large groups of children, I'm very shy, I don't want to be in control, but I will sit on a table with six girls and help them glue or whatever. The same woman is now completely obsessed, and is in uniform with two local groups. She says it was the best thing she ever did personally, as it helped her break out of her reserved personality and fear of bigger groups of people.

I would never force any parent to come along. It is entirely voluntary. But your help is soooooooo much appreciated. We are in exactly the same boat ourselves, we've just stepped up. No different to any other parent of any other kid. We aren't born with a trefoil stamped on our butt.

LoonyRationalist Wed 28-Nov-12 14:59:32

I sympathise, I know from experience that volunteering can quickly become a chore as you take on the tasks no-one else wants to do.

Could you not work in tandem with Rainbows/Brownies, a child can skip the waiting list at Rainbows if they give weekly help at guides for example? And the guide parents could help out at Brownies/Rainbows.

badguider Wed 28-Nov-12 14:21:19

going to namechange back now (i'm rubbish at keeping two names going) but i will read any further responses.

thanks so much!

p.s. yes, the only way to jump the strict waiting list is to offer adult help... but many mums prefer not to work at their daughters' guides at that age (it's more common in rainbows and brownies).

badguider Wed 28-Nov-12 14:20:02

thanks everybody for the advice so far, i feel more secure now in saying what i can and can't manage next term.

just one more question - how long do you think i wait for a reply to my email to my DC before sending a proding 'did you get it?' text?
i appreciate that she might want to come up with some suggestions before answering but i also don't want term to end without doing a letter to the parents...

TeddyBare Wed 28-Nov-12 10:48:49

Can you bump some of the waiting list girls up if their families might be able to help run it?

JennyWren Wed 28-Nov-12 10:10:58

Katisha - there are lots of ways to help and they don't all involve turning up at meetings smile

As a Guide leader I would love a volunteer to held to do the administration for claiming gift aid, or going to the library to photocopy letters home and then bring them along to the weekly meeting to be given out (I could write them and email them to you in advance), or to do a one-off thing each year like the grocery shopping for Guide camp... There are a hundred different ways to help out, so please don't feel that your daughter has to miss out. But please do talk to the leaders - we can't do anything other than 'the usual' if we don't realise that is a problem.

Badguider - I hope that you get some support from your district commissioner. As a new DC myself, I am trying to visit all the units on my patch just to say hello and to try to help volunteers be familiar enough with me that they feel they can talk to me about stuff like this. I've recently been to visit a unit where a helper suddenly blurted out that she's unhappy and wanted to work with older girls instead. Cue consternation from the Guider in charge - the poor volunteer hadn't said anything to anyone and now she was this close to jacking it all in. Co-incidentally I had just had an email from someone new wanting to start helping out, and I have been able to put her in there and move the uhappy volunteer to the section she wanted to be in. I visited again this week and there were smiles all round. But if I hadn't been there on that first night, I fear that she may just have left quietly and we'd all have been the poorer. We DCs can help, but we have to know - we're volunteers, too, not mindreaders grin.

And can I second, third and fourth those who have said above that if you haven't heard from anyone about your enquiry to start helping, please try registering again! The system is having some hiccups, but we do really want you!!

ginnybag Wed 28-Nov-12 09:55:29

Katisha - I wouldn't have an issue with a parent like you, and I actually wouldn't have expected you to remove your child from my group just because you weren't willing/able to get involved.

The thing is, though, all of this sort of group are run by 'parent-volunteers'. My DD (2.11) comes to my youth group and has since she was 3 weeks old, because it's take her or not run it - my DH is the other group leader and we both have to be there to guarantee at least two adults are!

I do it because I, in the main, enjoy it. So does my DH. But there are weeks where it's a nightmare, weeks when I don't do anything but plan the weeks' events and go to work and sleep. Running the group is my hobby, because it leaves me no time for anything else. It's not just 2 hours a week.

So, then, when I can do that, week on week for 6+ years, through pregnancy to 38 weeks, and be back with a three week old, unpaid for the time, effort and energy, why shouldn't I expect the other parents, the parents of the children benefitting form my time, effort and energy, to, once in a while, once a year or so, lend a hand to keep the activity that their child gets so much out of.

If I, if every other volunteer leader, stopped volunteering, then so many kids club type activities would vanish overnight. No-one is expecting you to run a session, but there are always ways you could chip in without ever being seen by the kids. In my group, for example, we run 7 or 8 sessions a year which run longer and are 'parties'. We put on a buffet for those nights - and that's the sort of thing where I need extra help. Preparing part or all of a buffet would be helping without organizing the kids.

Unfortunately, when I ask for help like that, I get a raft of 'too busy'. And my silent answer, behind my smile and 'that's okay' is : I'm busy too, you have one child and he's here, every week, enjoying and learning. I have one child and she's here, bored, every week so that I can be here for your kid. You have a full time job, I have a full time job. You have elderly parents, I have elderly parents. You want a night off with your DH - mine's over there. My life is no different to yours, and if you can be selfish, so can I, and then you'll have to entertain your own child.

My point behind the rant is that if parents want low-cost healthy activities for their kids (and they do!) then they need to be prepared to contribute in other ways. Otherwise, they are going to find that these groups go, and the costs of the things that replace them will be horrible, because they will be being run by people getting paid.

stillsmarting Wed 28-Nov-12 09:42:30

You aren't near a University are you? DD and her friend ended up running a Guide Unit together when they were students because both of them had been Guides.
The dilemma when you think you want to give up is a common one. My DDs Guide leader struggled on with ill health because no-one came forward. In the end she gave a date when she would leave and the District put in a temporary leader and eventually found a permanent one. If you don't say anything they will assume you are OK.
There would be problems with a parents rota because everyone would need a CRB and this takes time.

ginnybag Wed 28-Nov-12 09:36:26

Don't run a guide unit (though have in the past) but do run a youth group and the story is very familiar.

Volunteered to help out - 3 months later, I was running it. I'm now planning my 7th Christmas event!

It can and does get wearying when no-one else helps. I've got rafts of parents past and present who dump at the door and never so much as say hello, much less offer to help.

I've run trips half way across the country with groups of the kids, one whilst 6 months pregnant, and still none of them offer to help.

They're quick enough to whinge if we cancel, though. I've learned not to expect help, and to train my own leaders. I get into the ribs of our older members, and make them come back as assistants (for the experience on their CV and the reference) and now they often come back as adults and help. It takes some of the pressure off.

OP, if you've had enough, you've had enough. Contact your district leader and give her your leaving date. If there's enough interest from the girls someone will take over. If not, then you'll have nothing to worry about anyway. Either way round, you've done your bit, so don't feel bad.

Punkatheart Wed 28-Nov-12 09:34:50

I know what you are saying Katisha but I'm afraid that a lot of places would struggle without parental help. Volunteers are obviously not getting paid and many really have so many other responsibilities..it's a tough gig. Part of me wonders if there should be a payment - however small...but then of course it adds another set of problems.

I ended up for several years leading a brownie unit and I felt horribly uncomfortable about being put in a leadership role. Parental help was so lovely but it also gave the parents a taste of what we did.

No easy answers really...the world seems to be a harder place and old-fashioned and gentle things like brownies/guides....we need them more than ever....

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