Essex South East is a small county with about 3000 members which covers the south east corner of Essex stretching from Billericay to Southend and from South Woodham Ferrers to Canvey Island with Basildon and Rayleigh in the middle. Within our county we have Southend Pier, claimed to be the longest pier in the world and Hadleigh Farm which hosted the men’s and women’s mountain biking events in the 2012 Olympics.
We are also lucky to have three beautiful Guiding buildings within the county that are used for meetings and for camps and holidays; Guideacres in Thundersley, Guidewoods in Hockley and Creekview in South Woodham Ferrers.
Over the last 15 months, like many the other counties, Girlguiding in Essex South East has been taking place online. Many of our dedicated leaders have run virtual meetings while others have been emailing activities or sending out packs of activities for the girls to complete. One leader in Basildon worked out her daily exercise route to cover delivering packs to all the girls in her unit each week. With the relaxing of restrictions in May, over half our units are now back to meeting face to face either indoors or outdoors.
What else have we been doing over the last 12 months?
Several young members worked on programme activities and badges that would help their community.
Megan, a Brownie from Laindon worked on her Charities badge by fundraising for Societi, the UK Foundation for Kawasaki Disease. She made and sold bags of chocolate over Easter and raised a fantastic £95.
Rosa, a Rainbow, worked on her Helper Interest Badge. She designed a poster asking her neighbours to donate food for the local food bank and displayed it in her front garden along with an empty box. She collected donations over several days and took it to the foodbank with the help of her mum.
Other young members and adults enjoyed trying some of the challenges posted on our county Facebook page each week. These included creating a trefoil from objects found around the house, an edible campfire and making and flying paper aeroplanes. Naomi, a Guide in Westcliff, made her trefoil from t-shirts that came from events she had attended while Rainbow Thea made an edible campfire.
Two Brownies from 6th Castle Mount (Salvation Army) Brownies enjoyed writing poems.
When face to face meetings were first allowed last autumn, leaders looked for interesting ways to keep girls engaged while meeting outside in the dark. One Brownie unit in Leigh used glow sticks to play hopscotch and noughts and crosses in their Church grounds.
We held our first County virtual sleepover, ‘Outside In’ during November last year. The outdoor team put together a list of 26 alphabet challenges for girls to complete over the weekend. The challenges included making a mug cake, going for a coastal walk, making ice cream and learning to juggle. There were also opportunities to take part in dance activities and to learn Makaton and of course there was a badge. Our county YouTube channel was launched so that all the activities could be shared while other activities were shared on our County Facebook page. All those who took part were challenged to find somewhere different to sleep. There were some interesting places – one leader even slept in the bath!
In the lead-up to Christmas, we posted a Guiding advent quiz on social media encouraging readers to respond with their answers.
In February we held a virtual Thinking Day celebration with a ‘How Guiding Began’ participation story, a WAGGGS World Centres quiz, peace challenges, campfire singing and an opportunity for everyone to renew their promise led by our young members.
We held two virtual Awards Evenings in March, where the hard work of many of our dedicated leaders was recognised. It was also an opportunity to acknowledge the service given by our volunteers with the presentation of long service awards including three 60-year awards and three 50-year awards.
We are now getting ready to take part in the Hares About Town project over the summer of 2021. This should have taken place in 2021 but like many other things was delayed. Our leveret. Livvy, has now been painted by one of our talented leaders and is ready to be party of the trail. We are hoping many of our members will enjoy looking for Livvy and the other leverets and hares around Southend over this summer and again, of course, there will be a badge available for those who take part.
Although many units are now back to meeting face to face, we are continuing to provide virtual activities as a county and we will be holding our second County virtual sleepover at the start of July with a theme of Aim High which will include many sporting related activities and a What3words challenge.
YouTube: Girlguiding Essex South East
On Saturday, I attended the 99th AGM of Girlguiding, a time for reflection on the past year and looking at the years ahead. Present at this meeting is all Girlguiding Trustees, all chief commissioners, and other members of the operational board plus Girlguiding council members. Each Region has representatives on the council, and it was great to see familiar faces on the zoom call. Council members are there to give the voice of young women from within our organisation, and it was great to hear their views on some of the developments which are currently being undertaken. Thank you to our council members, giving their voice to this group and of course representing Girlguiding Anglia. During the AGM, we had a presentation from one of the Girlguiding trustees who is also a member of our Region, thank you to Alison Hampton for your presentation on your guiding experience over this last year. It was lovely to hear Alison talk about the positive achievements including the number of zoom calls and meetings held, plus participation in our regions virtual offer events from last year. The presentation was honest and talked about the level of admin that leaders and commissioners are all facing. The impact of this, cannot be underestimated, particularly with the high volume of risk assessments our commissioners are needing to agree at this current time. Please be mindful of everyone’s capacity, please use each other for support, share ideas and use the website to gather information which helps to complete risk assessments for all the wonderful activities we can offer our girls and young women.
Our Facebook page is back!
As I think some of you have already noticed, we are finally back on Facebook after several months of disappointment trying to republish our old account. Check it out and make sure you give us a like for all the latest news and events.
Fiesta Fun 17-18 July
Have you signed up for Fiesta Fun? – I am really looking forward to celebrating this event as part of our 50th Birthday Celebrations, there is lots to do, lots to make and things to have a try at, but most of all have some Fun, Fiesta style. Of course, there is a great badge too! You can find the event pack here.
Don’t worry if you cannot do everything on the 17 and 18 July, use the resources throughout the year, many of the activities also align to the programme. One activity is an invitation to renew your promise at daybreak, I am hoping for sunshine and hope you can join me in the virtual world!
Take care and keep smiling