The power of letter-writing

One of my Guides has just been elected as a member of the UK Youth Parliament.  We’re proud of her, and her success is no doubt due to her qualities and hard work and her family’s support.  However, what’s also nice is that guiding played a small role in it, too.  Here’s the story:

Back in September, when we were planning the term in the Guide hall, my Unit Leader spotted a letter on a Brownie unit’s display board.  It was from one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting, thanking the Brownies for their letter to Her Majesty.  Unit Leader said “I want a letter like that!”, and we came up with the idea of combining it with learning about our new Promise.

The following week, the Guides learned the new Promise, thought about what it means, and wrote letters to people connected with it: the royal family, community leaders, religious leaders, members of Girlguiding, newspapers.  We provided some names and addresses as inspiration, but we weren’t too strict about what/to whom they wrote, and some girls went outside the box, e.g. writing to comedian David Walliams asking if he’d like to come to Guides one night!

We also provided proper Basildon Bond writing paper and our Unit Helper wrote an excellent example of a letter on big paper.  The art of letter-writing is an important skill!

The leaders read through the letters before posting them.  Some made us laugh, and some made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside as the girls had written how much they enjoyed Guides and felt positive about the new Promise – often girls we wouldn’t have expected.  We hadn’t even told them we’d be reading the letters!  I highly recommend this activity if you feel in need of a morale boost.

One of the older Guides had even written a letter to Unit Leader thanking her for the last few years.  She entrusted it to Young Leader to post, and Unit Leader was delighted to receive it a few days later.

Over the next few weeks, we started to receive replies (all the girls had used Unit Leader’s address, so she brought the letters in each week).  We had several from the Queen’s ladies in waiting (all different, not just a stock template); and replies on behalf of the Countess of Wessex, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the town council, and David Walliams (sadly, he’s a very busy man).  One girl had written to the Chief Guide, Gill Slocombe, and to our delight she replied with a handwritten letter and a friendship badge!  It was so exciting for the girls who had their letters and comments acknowledged (though sadly not everyone got a reply), as it shows that they really do have a voice and the means to make it heard.

The Guide who I mentioned at the start of this post had written to the Prime Minister saying that she wanted to be PM one day and asking for advice.  One of his staff replied with some tips, including standing for the UK Youth Parliament.  Six months later, there she is.

As I said, I’m sure she would have done something like this sooner or later, but it’s great that an activity at Guides was a bit of a catalyst.  I hope she’ll remember us when she becomes PM in a few decades!

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