A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
Last weekend I spent the weekend with lots of women, of varying ages, all active in the Girl Guides, ‘the ultimate feminist organisation’. How interesting that such an organisation has so upset the Daily Mail.
Many years ago I was a Brownie busy trying to gain as many proficiency badges as possible. I then flew (symbolically by swinging across the gym hall on a rope) up to Guides where, as a Kingfisher, I continued my mad dash for badges. A move to rural Dorset put paid to my relationship with guiding and for many years the organisation was one that only occasionally came to my notice.
Strangely it was working with Libraries on their Youth Offer that brought me back into contact with Guides (is there a natural affinity between libraries and guiding or was it just circumstance?). Whether or not there is an affinity I can say they are persuasive and I soon found myself becoming a member of the Regional Executive of Girl Guiding North West England. Lots of things I remember from my original foray into guiding are still evident. It’s an organisation for young women that offers a safe and friendly environment. The badges seem to have changed; I remember doing a ‘tea-making’ badge, now the ‘Inventors Challenge’ badge is on offer.
Over the past 18 months I have learned a huge amount and developed a huge admiration for this energetic and dedicated band of people who work with nearly 70,000 girls and young women across the North West. This learning has been two way and guiding has made links with the RYWU and the wider youth sector by accessing training in participation and engagement, linking with networks of youth workers promoting work with Girls and Young Women and making strategic links with Local Authority youth services.
The catalyst for this strategic connection is Youth United, an organisation of which Girl Guiding is a member.
The Youth United Foundation Supporting Inclusion Programme is funded by The Department for Communities and Local Government and works with HRH The Prince of Wales’s Charities. Its aim is to ‘increase young people’s access to voluntary youth activities by increasing the number of cadets and other similar opportunities in areas of high deprivation and need.’ This clearly contributes to the local authority youth offer and, oh yes, I can not deny the £10.6 million awarded to Youth United to support the work has definitely opened doors. Here is a way for hard pressed local authorities to meet some of the needs of girls and young women.
So across Greater Manchester, and in Knowsley and Burnley, links between guiding and local authorities are developing. I hope this is the start of something that will secure an offer that girls and young women need, deserve and will take up.
North West Regional Youth Work Unit