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???

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 27-Nov-12 21:11:43

If you packed it in without even trying to find more volunteers, it would be a shame. Not unreasonable, just a shame.

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious and you have already realised that no one else will ever offer to help, but do all the other parents know that you are in this situation? Could you put out a little local appeal for help? Are there any other nearby Guide units that know of anyone that might help?

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 27-Nov-12 21:12:30

Should have said, YANBU if you pack it in.

WorraLiberty Tue 27-Nov-12 21:12:59

Try recruiting before you pack it in.

specialsubject Tue 27-Nov-12 21:13:26

no - someone has to be last. You are a VOLUNTEER. That means they say 'thank you'.

give them as much warning as you can, but set a definite date. And yes, spread the word. It is somebody else's turn.

Euphemia Tue 27-Nov-12 21:13:56

Where are you? I'll volunteer. smile

stormforce10 Tue 27-Nov-12 21:14:35

1. Write a letter to ALL the parents explaining the situation and asking them if they or anyone can help

2. Contact whoever is reponsible for girl guides locally and tell them you really need help. Do you have an area or county office? They will not want such an active unit to fold unless there is no option.

If no one is prepared to help after all that then you will have to decide and to be honest I think its too much for one person to do alone so you would not be unreasonable

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:15:12

No, I haven't told the parents that I want to leave, as that would be somewhat burning my bridges I feel - I will only do that if I decide I really do have to leave.

We ask all the parents when their dd's join if they could help us out and almost all say 'once in a blue moon in special circumstances'...

I don't have children at school so i don't know any parents of children older than a few months and i don't go to church.. i just don't know where to find people to ask...

I'm just going to have to hang on in there amn't I?

girlbehind Tue 27-Nov-12 21:17:46

I would start by seeing whether there's someone higher up who can help - not sure of your structures, but guess there's some District people like in Scouting. They might know of someone in an Assistant role who's ready to step up. or perhaps come in as your assistant on the understanding that she does session plans and activities.

I don't think it's unreasonable to give it in if that's your definite decision, but a couple of phone calls might lead to an alternative.

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:17:49

Euphemia - damn it! you're not in the right city! I don't want to say where it is as there's quite a lot of info in that post and too many potential parents who might be mumsnetters...

It was fine to be one of three or four... but one of two when the other will be posted elsewhere any week/month... too hard...

madwomanintheattic Tue 27-Nov-12 21:18:39

Just call your district commissioner and let her know that you will be finishing at Easter/ in the summer.

Send an email to all of your guide parents asking for volunteers to step up and learn the ropes before you go.

Ask the brownie guiders to send the same email to the older girls' mums who are moving up next year.

It's not a one man band. No one has to take sole responsibility for everything. If your time is up, let them know and move on. Most people take a proactive role in at least trying to find replacements, but it isn't compulsory.

If you have 25 girls, start a parent helper roster and explain you need at least two parent helpers every week.

Contact the local ranger unit (or whatever they are called now) and ask for young leader volunteers to tide you over (and hopefully some of them will be old enough to take on adult leadership roles next year - I know we resurrected an almost dead brownie unit this way)

Etc etc.

Whatever you do, don't do it because you feel blogged. It will be crap, and you and the girls will all be miserable. Time to hand over the reins.

Come in number 7, your time is up etc etc.

Of course, there is always the possibility that once you get some more help on board, you will feel revived and full to the brim with programming ideas... wink

Euphemia Tue 27-Nov-12 21:18:48

Are there any local units yours could merge with?

The women I used to guide with closed a Brownie unit in a very affluent town full of SAHMs who were happy to send their daughters to Brownies but would never volunteer to help run the unit. She got pissed off stretching herself six different ways, wrote to them telling them the unit would have to close, got no responses, and so closed it. sad

She was gutted, but sometimes no choice is the only choice.

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:18:55

yes, there are district people and i'm going to contact them... but realistically if they find a brand new volunteer i'm going to have to stick around for at least a year before i then drop them in it and the cycle continues blush

FromEsme Tue 27-Nov-12 21:19:06

Who is in charge of guiding in your area? My mum was a guide leader for a while and always found the head of our area really supportive.

Could you post your area on here? There must be mums who would like to help out. I know I would.

marquesas Tue 27-Nov-12 21:19:42

Is there a regional team above you ? If you approach them and explain the situation they will sort out a new person won't they, the Guides is a huge organisation, you shouldn't be on your own in this one. Or is it not the actual Girl Guides?

WorraLiberty Tue 27-Nov-12 21:20:21

See if you local council can help

Even if you post on their Facebook/Twitter page?

frasersmummy Tue 27-Nov-12 21:20:28

I have been a guider for many more years than I care to remember and have some suggestions

Arrange a parents night and explain the issue to them .. see if someone is willing to step in and run the acitiviites while you do all the admin etc for them

speak to your district/division commissioner. We have a unit in our area which is being run by someone very new who doesnt want the responsibilty so a bunch of us more exerienced guiders go help her on a rota basis

I think if you reach out via these 2 avenues and explain it the way you have here someone will come along and help you out... expecially as there are a lot of girls (you must be doing some thing right to have this many girls in a guide unit )
If you dont get the support you need from either of these routes then you can walk away knowing that you tried

I know if you walk away without trying you will feel bad for letting the girls down

good luck

WhistlingNun Tue 27-Nov-12 21:21:21

I am in the (almost) exact same situation!

I got roped in to volunteer at a Brownie Unit last year. It was my friend running it (who had also been burdened with it after the experienced leaders fecked off) and she said that if she couldn't find volunteers soon, the unit would close. So i offered to help.

Since then, my friend has went off to uni and I've been persuaded to stay on as a helper. They've got another experienced leader in, plus 2 young leaders, and now they've roped me in to training to become a warranted leader!

The thing that get's my goat is that i have to take dd with me to the meets, she gets fed up, and I also have to fork out for petrol money (£20 a month) to get there as the unit is miles away from me!

I really need to learn to say no.

Op, explain to your local commissioner that you don't feel able to stay on any longer (make up an excuse if you have to), and would appreciate their help in finding other volunteers. Make sure the parents of the guides know the situation too so they can ask around.

WorraLiberty Tue 27-Nov-12 21:21:52

yes, there are district people and i'm going to contact them... but realistically if they find a brand new volunteer i'm going to have to stick around for at least a year before i then drop them in it and the cycle continues

No, tell them you want out after X amount of months and stick to it.

Remember, graveyards are bursting with 'indispensable' people.

madwomanintheattic Tue 27-Nov-12 21:21:54

Nah. We were a group of four rangers who took over brownies on an interim basis. No experienced guiders at all.

I've run three groups with no experienced guiders. (In fact, I've never been in a unit where anyone has had a clue - including me) a year is ridiculous.

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:22:39

i've got two good young leaders who are great but are teenagers, and i could try a parent rota but it's more the stress of being 'in charge' that's getting to me.. parents who help once each per term are not going to help releive the stress... but maybe one of them would enjoy it and step up, eventually, i just worry i've left it so late they will sense the end of my tether... i should have started this process when i was still full of beans and before i lost a bit of a girp on stuff (some records are a bit out of date, some girls overdue badges, new ones cant' be bothered to do their promise and i can't be bothered talking them into it)...

NatashaBee Tue 27-Nov-12 21:23:48

I agree, get in touch with the county guide office and ask for help. If nothing else, they might be able to help you get all the girls placed in different groups elsewhere. Are there any girls who have recently left who might come back and help? If you announce you're leaving and the unit will be shutting, it might trigger some of the other parents to actually help a bit more.

LaCiccolina Tue 27-Nov-12 21:25:21

Good grief love u have been given great ideas and suggestions and all I'm hearing is poor me ill have to keep hanging around for a bit. Get a grip. Follow the ideas, set dates, make everyone aware and do it.

Otherwise ur starting to come off as a martyr or worse, just wimpy.

Your a guide. Act like one.

madwomanintheattic Tue 27-Nov-12 21:25:40

Last year I was asked to take over brownies, and the only other leader left at Christmas. (It was always planned that way lol, I had 20 girls. We survived.)

No way do you have to stay a year after they find another victim. I mean guider. grin

Put an ad in the local paper. Get the local commissioner to pay for it. Go to your local volunteer centre and ask them if they have anyone who might be interested - put an opportunity on their online system. Sign up for a volunteer speed dating night wink

Groovee Tue 27-Nov-12 21:26:02

You need to speak to your DC and DIV COM about this. They would be your first port of call.

Euphemia Tue 27-Nov-12 21:27:11

badguider Do you read You might get some good advice or even find some local contacts there.

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:27:20

you've all helped me to feel a bit braver about saying i've had enough and going 'public' as it were... i feel a bit of a failure about it but it is stressing me.

i recently started my own business and am finding working alone and shouldering full responsibility for my business quite hard.... i think that's why i haven't got the emotional energy for being in charge and responsible for the guides too.. i want need to do yoga or something totally chill out in the evenings instead.

Primrose123 Tue 27-Nov-12 21:28:08

I was in a similar position with Brownies. I was roped in as a volunteer, and was quite happy with that, but ended up practically running the pack with my teenage DD. I wasn't able to continue after a certain date, so we sent a letter to all the parents, saying that as we didn't have enough volunteer guiders, the pack would end. We ended up with five volunteers, and a couple of extra teenage helpers. One of the adults is now training to be Brown Owl, and I have been able to leave with a clear conscience.

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:28:53

Right. Going to email the DC tonight.


Euphemia Tue 27-Nov-12 21:40:58

I was running a Brownie unit single-handed three years ago. I only took it on so that DD and her friends could get a place. (I was already warranted for Rainbows.)

At first, it was great: I was getting bits and pieces of supply teaching, plenty time on my hands. Then during 2010 I started working three days a week in an office. Still plenty time for guiding. Come August, I took on two days a week teaching up until Christmas. Once I stopped sleeping the night before Brownies, and getting migraines during unit meetings, I decided enough was enough!

Three days in an office + two days teaching + Rainbows + Brownies + family life was way too much! And in Centenary year too! (At our 20:10 20.10 2010 "celebration" I had rushed there from a day's office work, the next day I was due to reach a horrible class in a horrible school, my Rainbow colleague had organised the whole thing and so was off organising everyone so I was left with a Rainbow unit and my own Brownie unit to look after! What was supposed to be a lovely night was horrible and very stressful!) Soon after, I told the Brownie people I wouldn't be doing it after Christmas. Hard decision, but the right one!

My rambling point is that you need to look after yourself, do what's right for you. No-one dies if a unit closes. smile

Meandmycats Tue 27-Nov-12 21:51:40

I'm in nearly the opposite position. We were talking about guiding at work about a month ago and I decided that as I used to be a teacher, and miss the contact with children, I would see if anywhere near me needed any volunteers. So I went online and 'registered my interest' and have not heard a thing since.

I got an automatic email saying the relevant person had been notified and would contact me shortly, but I've heard nothing and that was about 4 weeks ago. So you never know, there might be people like me in your area who are willing to help but haven't been contacted!

badguider Tue 27-Nov-12 21:58:14

Oh i do hope so meandmycats - the system for putting adults in touch with units is brand new and so may take a while. At present the website is emailing somebody who then emails somebody else and sometimes even a third person each manually before it gets to the right area.
The new automatic system goes live in december. If you don't hear before christmas then i'd 'register your interest' again in january when the new system should be up and running.

hang in there... don't be disheartened... and you don't live in scotland do you?

Euphemia Tue 27-Nov-12 22:01:19

badguider I have PM'd you. smile

Meandmycats Wed 28-Nov-12 00:45:27

No sorry, I'm not in Scotland. I will sign up again in January though if I don't hear anything.

ZebraOwl Wed 28-Nov-12 02:01:34

Well your username is inaccurate, for a start: if you were truly a bad Guider you'd not've stuck it out for this long & you'd not be having such a stress over what to do. Talking to your DC is definitely the way to go: really hope that you'll be able to get the support you need.

Please tell me you are in (SE) London & would like to do Brownies? Please? Well, you know, unless that's not the case, because that would be cruel... My Asst Guider is leaving at the end of next term & recruitment is not exactly going well. Only one of my Brownies' parents has said they would be able to help & that only very occasionally. sad

TandB Wed 28-Nov-12 07:17:13

Is it attached to a church? When I did guides many years ago we were associated with the local church and met in the church hall.

Could you ask the vicar to make an announcement at Sunday service asking for volunteers.

My group was run by a retired teacher, helped by two older ladies, one of whom was from the church.

Pilgit Wed 28-Nov-12 08:01:05

Hi badguider - don't think that name suits, but nevermind! I also run a guide unit (not in scotland though). You've been given some great strategies to get volunteers here - it is not failure to tell the DC and DIVC that this isn't what you signed up for and isn't what you want. Neither is it bad to tell your parents. Take them with you in this - you never know what will come out of the woodwork until you shout.

in the meantime I do have some strategies to get the evenings organised with min effort and min actual input from leaders:
1)get the programme planned termly - up front and farm out as much as possible. e.g. pets at home will do a free animal care evening, have you got any IN4MERS locally?
2) get the girls to do it - there are lots of BP adventure activities that require running an evening - I've had 4 run for me this term due to girls wanting to do it and all have been FAB (and have let me get on with the record keeping which slipped a bit, okay a lot!)
3) do you have any other units you could plan with? we plan our term frequently with another unit and both do the same things - so we organise and simply provide a pack of stuff to the other unit to run the same evening and vice versa - it's brilliant one term meant i actually only had to organise 2 evenings!
4) use your YL's - they can run games, activities etc - they can often surprise you as to how good they are
5) use your patrol leaders to keep things on track - it's amazing how effective they can be if you're clear about what you expect them to do in the meetings (and if in doubt the 'i'm very disappointed with your behaviour or lack of leadership' chat is soooo much more effective than shouting or any other type of discipline)
6) records - get the girls to help. The records often get on top of me so when i realised i hadn't given out GFI's or badges we had a badge amnesty - i relied on the guides to be honest with me about what they thought they were owed and gave it out and recorded it. Get them to fill in their G Files - that way once a term you can give out their records and get them to fill them in and then write on a list of what is owed to them.
7) don't judge yourself - you can only do what you can do and you're a busy woman. So some things slip - as long as the essentials are there (both in guiding terms and generally) the rest is fluff.

you are obviously doing a good job as you have a thriving unit. That doesn't help how you feel and it isn't a reason to continue but it will be a reason for others to step in and help it continue. The DC and DIVC will have strategies to get help and let you back into the place you want to be. Oh and on the petrol issue - reclaim it, there are guideleines on the guiding website of pence per mile to reclaim - we shouldn't be out of pocket because of guiding (yeah right!) but you don't have to not claim anything.

Good luck

Can I just say, check with your district office that there us nobody who has enquired. I enquired visa the website and nobody has gotten back to me yet, I did it back in may! I've since met others who have tried via that route and had no information back, so do bug them just in case!

BartletForTeamGB Wed 28-Nov-12 08:18:54

Someone else wondering where meandmycats is. If your postcode is CB, please PM me!

Another option is getting your local Trefoil Guild involved so one of them can take over the accounts/admin.

I was a Guide Guider as a student but have recently returned as Brown Owl of a local pack that would otherwise have closed. Although I am the only Guider, I have a few Unit Helpers including a wonderful older lady who likes the accounts & admin & is a Guider in everything but name.

I'd second looking at for help & advice.

CarpeJugulum Wed 28-Nov-12 08:36:15

OP I've been there.

Started to help as an assistant, moved up the ranks as people left, and then got stuck running it with no parental help.

It took me resigning for them to suddenly say "oh, if you'd only said" - coz the weekly begging emails and cancelling the pack on odd days when I couldn't get the numbers weren't a giveaway! hmm angry

I gave them five years of my life and got nothing out of it - but I'd go and do it again in a heartbeat! grin

However, I'd be very clear next time about my level of commitment!

Punkatheart Wed 28-Nov-12 09:12:46

Have been there, done the blue t-shirt.

Very good suggestions but truly, the parents will have do a roster.

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.

Please don't feel guilty...I know from experience that parents expect a lot of you...but are often slow to step up.

Good luck.

WhistlingNun Wed 28-Nov-12 09:14:38

Completely agree!

I was astounded last week to discover that the majority of the parents thought we got PAID for leading the Brownie Unit.

One of the young leaders (16) actually asked how much longer it would be before she got the same wages as us.


Katisha Wed 28-Nov-12 09:28:59

Can I just put in a word for the non-helping parents? Since having children I have been surprised at the number of activities that require parental involvement on a regular basis. From toddler groups through to scout type things. So I left the toddler group because I knew I wasnt at all the right sort of person to start organising messy play activities and DS went to Beavers once, because the leader then asked me which days I would be coming to help out. Same with Sunday school.

I am not a person who is comfortable with organising/taking part in children's activities on a large scale. I realise this marks me out as a useless parent as far as the leaders are concerned, but in my defence I removed my own children from the activities rather than just sending and refusing to help and being branded as a taker.

But it does seem to me that pretty much all groups organised for children want parental involvement and I wonder how feasible that actually is for many? Is it really a case of you shouldn't send your child if you are not willing/able to help organise?

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'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....

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.

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 09:55:29

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.

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!!

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?

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...

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).

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

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

Dotty which region are you in?

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.

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

Badguider - where abouts in the country are you?

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

She's in southern Scotland.

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.

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

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?

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.

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 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

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