Blog / June 30th, 2021
County Spotlight: Essex South East
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