An update from Diane

July 26, 2020

An update from Diane, British Girguiding Overseas' Chief Commissioner

How the world has changed since my last blog. I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy?

I was disappointed to not maintain my planned visit to Singapore to meet the leaders and girls as well as sleep at the zoo with leaders and girls from Jarkarta and Malaysia due to restrictions that were put in place for Covid and little did we realise then, that restrictions and then lockdown were going to sweep across the world affecting everyone.

Just before the lockdown was put in place in the Middle East I visited our units in Baku, Azerbaijan. I was lucky enough to go to each of the meetings and join in the activities that the girls had chosen to do. With the 1st Brownies we looked at Marslow’s pyramid of needs and had great discussions about what was really necessary to live. Unsurprisingly going to, and being a, Brownie was a basic need! The 2nd Brownies had chosen to learn to sew and/or do a new craft, so I happily helped thread needles, add sequins and feathers and find the tops for the glue sticks. The Rainbows had a science theme meeting and learnt about magnetism, building rafts from playdough, finding out about how much air was in different sized glass containers and making volcanoes using vinegar, baking soda and water. Time flew and I had a fantastic time with all the units.

I also gave training sessions on Safe Space, GO, the programme and guiding basics to all the leaders and was honoured to be part of promise ceremonies for four leaders in training. Thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome and looking after me.

After leaving Baku I went to Dubai to give more training sessions. I was really pleased to meet so many leaders in training as well as more experienced leaders at the sessions that had been organised in the different districts. Thanks to everyone for giving up their time and especially to those who had travelled long distances to come. I spent a new way for me to celebrate Thinking Day by participating in Thinking Day on Air. The girls and leaders had a great time speaking to other guides from all round the world including Sweden, Canada, UK and Bahrain. They also wrote postcards or drew pictures to send to the girls they spoke to. While waiting their turn to chat, the Rainbows practised sending messages to each other silently or finding the countries on the map while the Brownies made phones with paper cups and string and practised asking their questions this way. Pizza and drinks completed a brilliant evening. Thanks to Dani and her husband for organising the logistics and event, to Alicia for hosting it and to all the leaders who came with the girls.

The following weekend and just before the lockdown in Europe, I went to visit leaders at the BeneLux and France County training weekend held in Belgium. It was lovely to see old friends and new, catch up on what was happening and briefly pop into the B&F Trefoil Guild meeting. While there I was delighted to surprise and present on behalf of Europe County, Julie Pollington with a BGO Good Service brooch for her excellent service to guiding in Germany. Well done Julie!!

And then all of BGO went into lockdown and weekly meetings stopped to be replaced by doing section interest badges, online activities and challenges and virtual meetings. Before writing this blog I was with BGO Girlguiding Sharjah and joined their meeting and stay-at-home scavenger hunt. The girls had fun finding things to earn points towards prizes which will be awarded once they can get back to their usual meetings. It was great watching the girls enjoying themselves. Thank you to Sarah for organising this and to all of you who are offering opportunities for the girls to continue guiding if they, and you, want and can do so.

I do want to pause here to say that online guiding is not obligatory and it is perfectly OK for leaders and girls to not guide at the moment if this is best for them. Guiding has been going for 110 years…..we will beat Covid 19 and be ready to return to weekly meetings as soon as it is safe to do so.

In the midst of this radical change to how we offer guiding, we are delighted to welcome Branch Association members who are guiding associations in the UK Overseas Territories.

Within Girlguiding’s new strategy, “Today, Tomorrow, Together”, we are now together under the umbrella of British Girlguiding Overseas. I’m sure that through internet connections and when we have the opportunity to get together, we will enjoy finding out our points in common, our differences and sharing and building on all of our strengths so that we can continue to offer the girls and leaders more of the best opportunities possible.

Keep safe and I’ll be back in touch with my next blog soon