Heather Oakley

Retail Volunteer

GirlGuiding has always played an important role in my life since I set up my Rainbow Unit 26 years ago; it allows me to feel like I am giving back to the community in a way that I truly enjoy. And now that I am retired my daughter (my first Rainbow!) encouraged me to enquire about volunteering in Hautbois Girlguiding shop and I’m so glad I did as I really love it and get so much from it.
Volunteering in the Girlguiding shop during the pandemic has had such an impact on my wellbeing and is something I am really grateful for.
GirlGuiding has always felt like an inclusive community for me and especially now with volunteering in the shop. The staff have always made me feel like a key and valued member of the team, even more so during the last 12 months when it would have been so easy to tell me my support wasn’t needed. In fact, the opposite happened. Despite the lack of face to face service, the impact of the pandemic and the introduction of the new virtual badges and merchandise meant I was actually called in to help more. We found that we were far busier than normal, packing up badges etc. so that we could continue to offer our service to all Girlguiding members, who like me were continuing to offer virtual meetings via zoom for the girls. My volunteering role allowed the other staff members to shield and be furloughed which has allowed us to keep operating. It is nice to know that my ideas and suggestions are always appreciated and everyone has welcomed me with open arms.
Having the continuity of this role during the pandemic has given me a purpose to my week and given me a reason to stay busy and occupied. It’s kept my mind busy and from a personal perspective, I am truly grateful for that. It’s also allowed me to really feel like me and my role can actually make a difference. I feel as a whole GirlGuiding community, we have all come together during this difficult time so we can continue to deliver our service to the girls by coming up with new badges and maintaining virtual events. My role both as a leader and volunteering in the shop has been so satisfying and rewarding and I am so grateful that I have been able to play a role in helping the girls keep a sense of fun, positivity and some normality!