SI Cockermouth & District and Derwent Girlguides

How we developed the Volunteering Minutes Guide Badge (updated Nov 2015)

 

Initial meetings were held between the club lead (President) and the local Guide Leader to discuss how we could further develop the way our club worked with Guides and Brownies.

 

At that meeting we identified a shared interest in Guides and Brownies working with Soroptimist club members on Programme Action projects, in particular involving the girls in practical activities and volunteering

From that initial discussion, we identified specific activities which the girls could be involved in. We then determined that we needed a way of acknowledging the girls’ involvement and this led naturally to the idea of a badge which would be awarded once specific criteria had been met by the girls.

This idea was then taken back to our club and by the Guide Leader to her organisation, in order to secure commitment from both organisations to the idea

Happily both groups saw this idea as a good way of demonstrating the shared values and principles of both Soroptimist and Girlguiding organisations and of promoting how valuable this joint working can be to local, national and international projects

Having secured commitment from both organisations including financial commitment to share the cost of funding the badge production, the next step was to agree the criteria for the awarding of the badge. This was straightforward as both our club and the Guides already had a framework for recording volunteering (Our Million Volunteering Minutes Project). We agreed that to be awarded the badge, each Guide, Brownie and Rainbow would need to achieve 300 minutes of volunteering on Soroptimist projects and activities. This included collecting items for our ‘Ringpull Project’ as well as active volunteering and fundraising with us. For example the girls earn 1 minute of time for collecting 3 ringpulls, to expand the opportunities for those less able to do some of the more energetic activities making the badge more inclusive.

The next step was to design and commission the production of the badge. All Guide and Brownie groups in the Derwent region were invited to enter their designs for the badge which had to capture the spirit of both organisations and of joint working

We received many entries and these were judged jointly by both organisations. A winner and some runners up were identified and announced and each received a small prize (an Easter egg as it was close to Easter!) and volunteering minutes towards the badge.

The badge was then commissioned via the Guides as they are well placed to do this and have the contacts with the appropriate badge design and manufacture people. It is important that each organisation’s branding regulations are met (for e.g. the exact pantone colour of the logo). Badge manufacturing is not cheap. We commissioned 300 badges; in hindsight perhaps 150 – 200 would have been better as now we are committed until all are gone.

The badge was then launched within our club, the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows, and this coincided with the awarding of the first badges.

Our recommendation is that other clubs wishing to do similar, develop their own design with their local Guides as this will embed the shared working and understanding. We now have a very good volunteering relationship, with both Girlguiding and Soroptimist projects benefitting from the enthusiasm generated. (Note: We have joint copyright with Derwent Girlguides on our design)

The important things to be aware of are to ensure there is commitment and capacity within both your club and the local Guides and to plan ongoing practical activities which the girls can be involved in, throughout the whole year, so that they can obtain their badges. Information about our activities can be found on our website and facebook page including, for example: ring pull bracelet making workshops, Beach watch, Balsam Bashing, collecting and sorting tools for TWAM, Big Dinner Campfire for ‘500 miles charity’, pencil party to sort and pack 530 pencil cases for the ‘PCF ring pull’ school in the Philippines. In addition, and at the outset, it is essential to establish a clear understanding of joint working on safeguarding issues and the responsibility for risk management.

Our annually reviewed club Health and Safety Policy was updated to include a publications policy, including extended photo permissions recognising the issues relating to digital photo publication on Facebook and websites which may be beyond our control, and an enhanced section on safeguarding, including a clear travel policy, in agreement with our lead guider. We do not offer the girls a lift, for safeguarding reasons but also because this may invalidate member’s car insurances. Therefore there is some considerable commitment also from parents to enable their girls to participate fully in some of our projects.

A clear agreement on responsibility for Risk Assessments for each project or activity is established. The Guides have a standard parental permissions form which is used for attendance at all our activities.

One of the key enhancements was to have an active club Facebook page; Cockermouth Soroptimists Facebook Page. When we feature projects the girls have been involved in with us this quickly gets shared widely and so engages them and their parents in our online community.

The benefits are many - it brings both organisations closer together, allows both the very young and the young-at-heart to work side by side and it perhaps will encourage Soroptimists of the future. There has been some very positive interest and publicity from the local media and of course most importantly it has benefitted many Soroptimist projects and activities. To date, 70 girls have completed their badges within the first year. A further outcome is that this activity has established a pattern of volunteering within the older guides as we now see them taking on further work on our projects after gaining their badges (e.g selling ring pull items at coffee mornings, fundraising for our club charities).