One fine Saturday, leaders and Trefoil Guilders from two local Districts took over a shared community space in town to do some promotion.
If “shared community space” sounds vague, it means a former shop that’s being rented by a group of local volunteers, who have decorated it, fitted it with lights and a kitchen, and added tables, chairs, soft furnishings, shelves, a photo exhibition and a “bring and swap” area. Volunteers are running skill-sharing events there such as crafts and home brewing, and it’s available for local groups and individuals to hire at a very reasonable price for a day or an evening.
When I heard about it in the local news, I thought it would be great to have a Girlguiding event there, and fortunately other leaders in my District agreed. Three of us went to visit in January, and on impulse, before we could change our minds, we booked it for a day in March. We didn’t have a clear plan what we would do, so we billed it with the open name of “Girlguiding Takeover”.
Fast forward two months, and we’d included the District next door and decided to make it a general promotion event, with displays of photos and memorabilia and a tent:
Made with: a straw, a mini cake case, and a cut-out flower. Simples!
And a side order of fundraising for a Guide who is going on an international trip:
We had a good number of adult helpers from both Districts and all sections and of all ages, which I was really happy about. It was lovely to get to know leaders from the other District better, as we don’t often do things together, and when we do, we’re usually occupied with our girls. As another leader said, it’s a false barrier as we’re in two towns that almost run into each other and have loads of crossover.
I was touched by the amount that everyone contributed, not just in time but also in terms of bringing display materials (I was worried we wouldn’t have much, but in the end I didn’t put up most of the photos I’d brought as there was no space left) and cakes (again, I was worried we wouldn’t have enough but we didn’t even need to open the tin I’d brought). It just goes to show how wonderful, willing and helpful our volunteers are.
We weren’t overwhelmed with visitors; someone went to hand out flyers around town every hour or so, but there just weren’t many people about. As it was a lovely sunny day, we thought perhaps everyone had gone off to do fun things rather than going to the shops. Still, we had quite a few visitors at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, especially families. Some were already Rainbows/Brownies/Guides, others not. We had some good conversations going and there was a nice friendly atmosphere.
We hoped to recruit some volunteers, and we came away with about half a dozen names and contact details of potential “occasional helpers”, which could be good. I managed to get one helper for Guides, who has now come to three meetings! We also had quite a few parents coming to ask about how their daughters could join Rainbows/Brownies, or saying that they’d registered their interest but hadn’t heard anything. This is great of course, but the waiting lists – especially for Rainbows – are so big we could open another unit if we just had a few more leaders. You’ve heard this all before, of course: it’s the same everywhere.
All in all, I’m glad the event happened, even though there weren’t as many visitors as hoped. It was good to collaborate with the community space project, good to bond with other leaders, and I think those who did visit had fun and got a good impression of local guiding. We also got some press attention (thanks to our wonderful PR advisers) both before and after.