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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???

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

ConfusedPixie Wed 28-Nov-12 08:11:20

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...

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