A Girlguiding leader in Rotherham has called for more people to volunteer for the organisation as post-Covid waiting lists are leaving girls waiting for up to a year.
The leading charity for girls and young women has over 200 units, 2,600 members, and 600 volunteers in South Yorkshire, divided into nine divisions in Barnsley, Rotherham, and Doncaster.
However, a spike in demand for places has led to applicants missing stages in their Guides career and group numbers increasing.
Tracy Maher of the 54th Rotherham Rainbows, a group of 14 girls aged four to seven at Herringthorpe Reform Church, said: “I’ve been a leader for 25 years, but lately, during and after the pandemic, two units in my area closed. So, consequently, all the girls that would have been going elsewhere are coming to me.
“We’ve just not got enough leaders or adults wanting to take on opening their own unit. I’m not sure if it’s the change in litigation, whether people are busier, so they don’t have any free time, I don’t know what it is.”
Founded in 1910, Girlguiding UK recruits Rainbows from age four, Brownies from seven to 10, Guides from 10 to 14, and Rangers from 14 to 18, with leaders heading each unit.
Membership has grown by 20% since 2021 and the charity has experienced the highest number of young member enquiries since 2015 with over 55,000 girls waiting nationwide.
“The problem we’ve got in Rotherham is we’re all now the same age because we started in our thirties and we’re now in our sixties,” said Tracy.
“I’m all right at the moment at 60, but there’s no way I could do what I did when I first started, running with the girls and joining in, so we need young blood.”
A national campaign by GirlGuiding, “The Big Help Out” was announced in March to help find volunteers in local communities and attracted over 24,000 people on its first day, but units across South Yorkshire are still struggling.
Tracy added: “Throughout my Girlguiding career, I’ve always thought these leaders are amazing people, really amazing people.
“Volunteering isn’t easy, but it’s so rewarding. If you’ve got any skills, please offer them to Girlguiding. Come help out for a year or two. It just helps us get through.”
Girlguiding welcomes volunteers of any skill, age, ethnicity and religion. Find out more here.