This month we're talking about:

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pippa shares stories of inspiring young women at the Rio+20 conference going on right now!

There are so many inspiring role models in the WAGGGS delegation here at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, known as Rio+20.

Beatrice is from the Kenya Girl Guides Association and she inspired us all when she shared her pre-conference story during the training day. There is currently a drought in East Africa affecting the water supply in the city of Nairobi where Beatrice lives. She has to take several hours out of her day to walk across the city to fetch water for her family. This inspired her to go to the Climate Change Summit in Durban last year, where she spoke about her experience channelling her frustration into advocacy. After the Summit she returned to Kenya, keen to work on a tree planting project with her fellow Guides.

Our hosts, the Brazilian Girl Guides, and especially the five members of their delegation, inspired us with their generosity and also with the programmes they run in their communities. They are sending 170 members of all ages to the People’s Summit – a parallel event to the main conference –where they’ll experience a gathering of cultures, all keen to work together to achieve sustainable development.

Darlene, another member of the delegation, is a pilot for Air Canada – able to inspire us with stories of all the places she has travelled to. Due to the free time her job gives her, she has dedicated numerous hours to working as a WAGGGS representative with the Major Group for Children and Youth – the channel for youth organisations to be heard at Rio+20. Her passion for bringing about positive change through this conference motivates us all. As part of the Major Group, along with other members of the delegation, and with the assistance of official delegates for many countries we were able to see the inclusion of non-formal education in the current draft outcome text – a paragraph that we hope will inspire governments around the world to support valuable non-formal education providers such as the Guide and Scout Associations.

The experience of making real change in an international political process makes you feel as though your voice is so powerful – even more powerful as it is backed up by ten million more members of WAGGGS. As such, we will remain inspired to take our own action to achieve sustainable development when we return to our own countries.

Pippa Gardner and Maggie Simmons.

Find out more about what Pippa and Maggie and the WAGGGS delegation are up to at Rio+20, and what you can do to support them!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Meeting the UK's Prime Minister and seeing the Queen - an extraordinary week for Helene

On Wednesday, Helene visited Rosherville Brownies, who were looking forward to London North West’s Diamond Games event the next Saturday and made Helene a special torch.

On Friday Helene visited 17th Hampstead Brownies’ special Promise night with a film star and dolphin theme.  Then Helene was taken to Pax Lodge, where she spent the night! She was given a Pax Lodge pin and a beautiful WAGGGS scarf. She chatted to people from all over the world and enjoyed a barbeque.
17th Hampstead Brownies' Promise night
Next was the Diamond Games! Everyone in the County celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games. Over 450 people turned up, including the Deputy Lord Mayor who opened the Games for us – she had been a Brownie and a Guide! We also had an Olympic torch from London Olympics in 1948. One very brave Guide carried the torch in the Opening Ceremony and said the oath on behalf of all the competitors. There were sports of all kinds, craft activities and circus skills to keep everyone entertained. Helene walked along with Gill, our Chief Guide, meeting all the girls and Leaders. It was a lovely hot day, but the wind was so strong we had to hang on to the gazebos!

The Deputy Lord Mayor and Mayoral representatives - at the Diamond Games

On walkabout with Gill, the Chief Guide

Helene carried on her visits to units after her big weekend, and was very well fed...
She joined in discussions with the 25th Fulham (All Saints) Guides

She went to a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee party with 6th St Marylebone Brownies.

Maida Vale Brownies and Guides also had Jubilee afternoon tea.
On the next Saturday, Helene had a very special invitation to come to a Big Lunch at 10 Downing Street with Rainbows, Brownies and Guides from Westminster! We chatted to the Prime Minister David Cameron, and ate yummy ice cream and listened to the Guides and Rainbows singing. The rooms inside No. 10 were huge, and there were pictures everywhere! Check out Helene with Jessie and Annelise on the Number 10 website

The Rainbows with David Cameron
A few days later, Helene got up very early to see the Queen as part of her Jubilee celebrations. Along with Guides from London North West, she stood at Admirality Arch. We saw the Queen and other members of the Royal Family as they passed in the procession and we got such a fright when the first gun went off for the 60 gun Royal Salute. We saw and heard many bands, lots of soldiers and plenty of horses, who were so big, Helene felt quite frightened! We all waved at the Queen when she came out on the balcony and joined in the singing of the National Anthem. Helene waved her flag and joined in the cheering as the Red Arrows as flew right overhead. What a fantastic sight!

The Procession

In the crowd

The Red Arrows!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

An Olympic holiday for Helene in North Wales

Bora da,
Making our mascots
Mae Helene wedi ymuno a gr┼Áp 9th Wrecsam yn Gogledd Cymru am eu gwyliau yn Ty Clwyd, Llanfaitlhaiarn. Y thema oedd gemau’r Olympaidd.
Translation: Helene has joined 9th Wrexham brownies in North Wales on their Olympic pack holiday in Ty Clwyd, Llanfaitalhaiarn.

On the Friday evening Helene helped the Brownies make their Olympic mascots getting glue everywhere! She helped to create four individual mascots all made from recycled materials. They were all designed and named by the girls. They looked great!
After lots of games and running around Helene settled down in her sleeping bag hoping the Brownies would go to sleep early...

Heading out in our wellies
On Saturday morning the Olympic theme continued and Helene got very sticky mixing up some energy-boosting flapjacks with the Brownies. They were very tasty.

After lunch we went for a long walk in our wellies for a paddle in the river and to play in the park, where we played an Olympic rings game. Tired and hungry we went home for a drink and cakes, before designing and making ancient Greek pot out of clay. We also made our very own Olympic torches!

Mmmm marshmallows!
We then changed into some party dresses for tea and Helene sat as the Brownies entertained her. Afterwards the girls all kindly shared some of their midnight feast snacks with her. She particularly enjoyed the pink marshmallows!
Sunday morning the girls joined Helene in tucking into some delicious bacon butties for breakfast. They then split into Olympic teams to race for bronze, silver, gold medals to gain their agility badge.

After lunch it was time to say goodbye to each other and Helene in our very own closing ceremony!

Helene and her new Brownie friends

Monday, 11 June 2012

My guiding inspiration

At the end of June, all the units in High Barnet District are getting together to hold an On Your Marks event to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. While planning it, I was thinking about all the people I know at Girlguding UK who inspire me to work a little bit harder to provide more help to my community through guiding.
As a child, I was never a Rainbow, Brownie or Guide. I wanted to be, but the waiting list for my local unit was just too long and there wasn’t room for me! It is largely because of this experience that I have chosen to become an adult volunteer. It meant I could help get some girls off a waiting list and I get to do all the things I missed out on as a child! I started helping out once a week and soon realised all I’d missed out on when I was young: fun, friendship, female solidarity.

I have moved quite a lot in the last few years and have always found that Girlguiding UK helps me to settle in to a new area and give me a sense of belonging in a new community. This was especially so when I moved to North London in 2010 and suddenly found myself with no job, no nearby friends and no idea where anything was! Luckily, I’d planned ahead, got in touch with guiding in the area and was placed with a Brownie unit in desperate need of help. And I’m still there. Despite a tough couple of years, I keep going back every week.

The girls are fab (even the ones who make me want to scream sometimes), but it’s really my fellow Leaders that make it special. I know wonderful women who have been in guiding for over 30 years and still bring energy and enthusiasm to every meeting; women, who work full time and have their own children, but still come along every week to run Guides; and women who decided to run two meetings back-to-back because they knew, so many girls were waiting to join, and wanted to give them the opportunity that I never had - to join Girlguiding UK. Despite an age gap of more than 30 years, we all come together every Friday night to do something that women and girls have been doing for over 100 years, and that makes me feel like I’m really a part of something pretty special.

So, I’m writing this blog post to say ‘Thank you’ to those women, who have inspired me to stick with guiding and shown me how much it can give you back if you give it your all. I hope that one day I can give someone the sense of belonging that you have given me.

Thank you.

Friday, 1 June 2012

'Together We Can'...Help children escape poverty

The 5th Potters Bar Brownies have been very busy raising awareness of the Eight Millennium Development Goals through a resource called ‘Together We Can’.

The Brownies decided to support a charity called ‘Mary’s Meals’ with their backpack appeal, which helps children from poor families to get to school in countries like Liberia and Malawi. Very often these families cannot afford to buy basic things like pencils and notebooks, or even suitable clothes to wear to school, and so children miss out on an education. Along with the free school meal that Mary’s Meals provides (costing as little as £6.15 per child, per year) the backpacks that we send, help children to get an education that will help them escape poverty in later life.

We asked all the other uniformed organisations, Scouts, Cubs, Beavers, Girlguiding UK and the members of King Charles the Martyr Church to help us with this project by donating items such as: backpacks, spoons, notebooks, pencils, pens, pencil cases, towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, clothing and flip flops.

 All of the donated items were brought to our church parade on the 25th March and it was a great success!

We also held a cake and table top sale to raise money for the charity, with all proceeds going towards buying additional items for the backpacks. The donations being put together, compiled 50 full backpacks and we also had a box of spare items. With the money we raised from the cake and table top sale we bought additional items to complete the backpacks and still had £50 to donate to Mary’s Meal. The backpacks which we donated are on their way to Malawi to children in school’s out there who have very little.

We would like to thank everyone who donated items, as it was a whole community effort and a fantastic result for such a worthwhile project. The backpacks and money will make a real difference to children’s lives.