*I have recently added some photos to this post of just some of the cool stuff we did when I was a Guide. Scroll down to see some embaressing photos of me!

I am writing this blog post to get your attention! Our Guide unit of 38 years, is going to close at Christmas if we don’t get more members and fast! So we need you help!

I feel this quote from Mother Teresa sums up this blog post:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

(Thanks Craftivist Collective for bringing this quote to my attention.)

For those of you who do not know me personally or have not known me for very long, you might not know that I have been an active member of GirlGuiding UK on and off since I started as a Brownie aged 7. Now, at 25, I volunteer at the same Guide unit in West Hampstead, which I first joined aged 11.

So I’ll start with the background to my story…

My older brother had been in the Scouts and when the time was right my Mum decided to enrol me in a Brownie pack; the 12th Hampstead Brownies on Finchley Road, London, which has since moved to Pax Lodge (one of the WAGGS World Centres.) The leaders at my Brownie Pack, Joan and Carol, were very friendly and welcoming but I was a very shy, introverted child and struggled a little at first making friends. Slowly, however, through being a Brownie, and then moving up to Guides, every experience helped me come out of my shell a bit more and pushed me to challenge myself and do things I would have otherwise been to afraid of doing. This confidence I gained, eventually developed into me volunteering my time as a Guide Leader today; at the same unit I was once a Guide, and the unit I am asking for your help to save; the 2nd West Hampstead Guides.

I cannot express enough how much Guiding has helped me grow as a person and continues to. The challenges you’re thrown into, the adventures you experience on camps and holidays, the lasting friendships you build and simply the life skills and independence you gain, in a very different way from school. Unlike school, Guides choose to come and it’s all about them, which is what makes Girlguiding unique and amazing!

In Guides, the girls play a huge part in the planning of the program. They decide what they want to do. A girl only environment might sound old-fashioned but I really believe this allows girls to be themselves and find their inner confidence. It’s a wonderful feeling to have a girl join Guides aged 11 and be able see her through a hugely important time in her life, where she is finding out who she is and knowing that you can help her discover the person she will become.

I always think back to when I was a Guide and my old Leader, Liz De Freitas, who was so warm and always felt like a second Mum to me; so dedicated, she not only ran Guides but also was my brother’s Cub Leader when he was a Cub Scout so I knew her even before I became a Guide. Living locally she really was and continues to be a pillar of the community. A retired Guide Leader but still an active Trefoil Guild member Liz continues to run the same Cub Scout group today. If anything, I owe this to her, for keeping the Guide unit running for all those years; I would feel like I was letting her down if we have to close. But not only this, we can’t lose another outside a school project, which is keeping our kids off the streets and out of trouble.

Although Girlguiding is still going strong in many parts of the country and indeed London, in our little area of West Hampstead, near Fortune Green, sadly, few young girls seem to be interested in joining this wonderfully empowering organisation. We now just have two Guides in our unit. The leaders offer their time, voluntarily; for free and all units are self-funded purely from the money paid from subs. With  just two Guides, not only are we not able to provide the full experience of what Guiding is about, but without enough money coming in, the truth of the matter is, it is just not feasible for upholding the costs of running a unit on rented premises.

For these reasons, it has been decided, that our unit will be closing on Wednesday the 14th December, where we will have our final meeting before we break for Christmas and we will not return in the New Year. UNLESS you can help us recruit more young girls and young women in the area so we can keep our unit running and prevent it from closing down. In the last couple of months, I have tried to create some interest in the local media but no one seems very interested. Leafleting and posters in the vacinity have also proved unsuccesful.

I don’t want us to close. It would be such a shame to lose a unit, which has empowered young girls for the past 38 years, just because no one knows about the work that we do.

So, I am asking you spread the word. Even if you are not from the area, or even London, I am simply asking you to shout about this in any small way you feel you can; Tweet about this, spread the word on Facebook, tell your friends, tell your local shopkeepers, school teachers, mothers, aunties and daughters alike and spread the word.  It’s a long shot, but maybe, just maybe we will convince a few girls to join; a few is all we need to save our Guide group from closing. Please help us make some noise about this!

Guides are girls aged 11-14; you can find out more about what we do here. Our unit currently meets on Wednesday evenings 6.30-8.30pm in NW3 about 5 minutes from Fortune Green Park. We have some lovely Christmas themed crafts planned for our final meetings on the 7th and will continue these on the 14th December with a Christmassy Craft Party so it would be a great time to come along to get a taster of what we do and make some Christmas cards, decorations and more…

Any help is much appreciated. Please get in touch if you would like more info or think you can help in anyway. I have lots of leaflets and posters. You simply comment below, send me a message via the Contact Us tab or tweet me on Twitter @freshasa_daisy use the hash tag #SaveThe2ndWestHampsteadGuides You can also use the shortened version to link to this page; just copy and paste this link —>  http://bit.ly/sq4nEs

*Updated 3rd December 2011

After to speaking to my Leader Joan (when I was a Brownie) and my Leader Liz (when I was a Guide) about this the other day, it got me thinking about old photos I had of some of my Guiding adventures and I thought it would be nice to share them on here with you and show you what great memories I have…even if they are a bit embaressing. I’m hoping Joan will send me some of when I was a Brownie next week. Enjoy!

Our Exchange Trip to Holland

When Liz was our Leader we had good links with a Dutch Girl Scout Troop. They visited London for a couple of days where the Guide families provided Hospitality for one night. One or two girls from the Dutch Scout Troop stayed with us in our family homes. These were the two that stayed with me and when we went over I stayed at the home of one of the girls. I am second in from the left (the girls in the brown shirts are the Dutch Girl Scouts)

A Beach on Guernsey, Channel Islands

Every couple of years the Hampstead Sea Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Scouts went on a 10 day camp together, to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I was lucky enough to go on this camp three times; once as a Leader. We always had an amazing time; the weather was always glorious and we had a contact who was in the Guernsey Fire Service and took us abseiling on the island and kayaking on the beach. I am still in contact with him and his family and have visited twice since and stayed with them as friends.

Sailing in Guernsey

Sailing in Guernsey

This was another activity we took part in on Guernsey. The man who owned this boat was a friend of John (from the Guernsey Fire Service.) He took us out on the water in small groups and we got to experience the different duties involved in sailing a boat. It was a lot of fun (especially for me who had never sailed before.)

Festival and Fireworks in Guernsey

This was taken on one of the last days of our Guernsey trip (as you might be able to tell from our sun tans!) I think this was a festival in St Peter's Port. The firework show was great!

Trip to Disneyland Paris

We went on a camp in France and on the last day we got to go to Disneyland Paris. We were all very excited and had an amazing day!

These were just some of the amazing experiences I had through Guiding. Please don’t allow this unit to close and prevent girls in West Hampstead from getting these opportunities too.

Thanks for listening and thank you in advance for anything you can do.

Even something as small as Tweeting about us could make a huge difference.


Daisy x