Blog / March 30th, 2020

Resources to connect with units and help with wellbeing

Welcome to all of you at home! Here’s our contribution to staying safe & well. The first part is a practical tool kit to help organise and stay connected, followed by reflections on and suggestions for developing mindfulness. The last part contains a wealth of resources for ideas and fun, jump to that section first for activities you can do and share!

Keeping connected

With the present situation having an unknown end date, remote meetings are one-way units are connecting or planning to connect in the next few weeks. We even have brand new units starting up completely online as a long-term, permanent flexible guiding option! Some units have chosen to use email newsletters to share activities whilst others are taking a break, whatever you choose to do as a leader please feel you have the full support of Girlguiding Anglia.

1. Online meetings

We are all learning as we go and following Girlguiding groups on Twitter and Facebook can be a brilliant way of learning from other leaders in the same situation and a great platform to ask questions to those with more experience. On Facebook search for ‘Girlguiding For Members’ where there is a really good discussion between leaders on how different units are exploring online meetings. The main advice from leaders was to start small, build up and connect with each other for support. 

There is no rush to implement any type of virtual meeting if at all. If you do decide to have a go, remember to take your time and do whatever is best for your own circumstances and unit. Our training teams are looking to develop some support for leaders and more information will follow as it becomes available.

If you feel confident and would like to have a go here is some step by step advice from our members on starting up online meetings:

  1. Decide which online platform you would like to use or shortlist a few to try amongst leaders. If you already use Facebook to communicate with parents or young women messenger may be the simplest way to start. 
  2. Trial the online platform you want to use first by holding a leaders meeting. You can even log in and out a few times for different leaders to experience calling and leading a meeting or even try a few different online chat platforms. NB: All the things you do in your unit guiding to keep girls safe, still apply when we go online. So don’t forget that you need at least two leaders joining the call – one should have at least Level 3 of A Safe Space training, and at least one volunteer needs to have a current DBS check. And you should do a risk assessment for activities. 
  3. Get permission from parents to hold online meetings. Use the Information and Consent form to outline your plans and parental expectations before emailing out to gain permission as you would for any activity away from the meeting place. 
  4. Depending on the size of your group you may want to invite just a patrol at a time or the entire unit.  
  5. Remember that meetings don’t have to be the same length as a physical meeting, what works in a hall may not work virtually. 
  6. Be honest, you are learning as well so feel confident to ask for patience. You may even find a parent or young member is able to help with anything you are less confident with – it’s always worth asking! 
  7. Don’t be disappointed if not many members join you at the first meeting. Every household is having to adjust to a new way of life at present, they will need to get used to the new normal as well. Let members join when they feel able. 

Some of our favourite online video tools (a more comprehensive list and dos and don’ts and guidance can be found on the Girlguiding website):

  1. Facebook Messenger. This can be an excellent platform if most of your parents or young women are already used to connecting with the group through Facebook. Group chat is straightforward to use and can be used on laptops, tablets and phones. You will need to set up a chat group with all the relevant contacts, these will already be in your shortcut list if you’re already connected on Facebook. At the relevant event time, you can then go into the group chat and start a video call.
  2. Microsoft Teams. Teams is a free chat and video meeting software that you will have access to through any Outlook account. Predominantly used within business at present, Microsoft are encouraging less formal use with an easy to use format and a range of easy to follow video tutorials.
  3. Zoom. You may have heard of Zoom as something many charities are using at present to run their committee meetings. A basic subscription is free for up to 100 participants for no longer than 40 minutes.

2. Newsletters

Online meetings aren’t right for every group and every leader and there are other ways to keep in contact. Facebook can be used for live video, some units have posted live video challenges for their groups, parents then post the members achievements to the closed group and leaders can award badges.

Girlguiding made interest badges and some unit meeting activities available online through the Adventures At Home programme. It might be that a regular emailed newsletter suits your unit best. Again, you can share an activity and ask for photos of members achievements to celebrate over social media or when unit meetings are back open.

A template email used by one of our leaders in Bedfordshire can be found within the volunteer resources on our website.

3. Take a break

Everybody’s circumstances are different and right now you may not have time or feel able to continue your volunteer work with Girlguiding. Feel free and confident to make the right decision for you. All Girlguiding’s resources are available online and are free to access for parents of members and non-members alike, to allow you to inform parents that they are there and take a step back. Don’t forget that your commissioner and their support group are also in place should you need to contact them.

However, you choose to stay connected during this time, remember we are all facing the same circumstances with a guiding family here to support you as well as our young members.

Mindfulness

The change to normality has challenged all of us in some way. Whether we find ourselves not working, homeschooling children or digging deep as a key worker, we know it’s important to find and protect some time for self-care.

To support you in these uncertain times we have pulled together some free resources below that can help you unwind, learn a new skill to enhance your well being or signpost you to further information.

  1. Headspace. Available as an App or online, Headspace has a free level of subscription with guided meditations for beginners and those looking to connect with a wider global community. Headspace also has activities aimed at children of all ages.
  2. Mind. Mind offer support and advice for better mental health including telephone service and information for your local area.
  3. The Wildlife Trusts. If you are lucky enough to have outdoor space or find yourself mainly indoors The Wildlife Trusts have compiled lots of activities to stay connected with nature whatever your environment. Being outdoors in nature helps our mood; create time in the back garden, tend those balcony plants, include trips through green spaces locally when doing essential jobs or bring the outdoors in with activities for making a butterfly or mini nature reserve.

Stay present and do something you love doing every day.

Activities to entertain and engage

During a time like this we can all appreciate our online connectivity and the resources we have available to us at home. Over the next few weeks many of us will be looking to some sort of virtual entertainment to keep our minds occupied whilst spending time indoors, for both adults and children. Last week Girlguiding UK launched their ‘Adventures at Home’ online programme which will include one activity a day on social media and weekly UMAs for all sections on their website.

To keep our girls and members entertained over the coming weeks we have collated a list of interesting and fun online activities that will engage the whole household.

The James Dyson Foundation was set up in 2002 by Sir James Dyson. His intention for the foundation was to engage young adults in STEM and challenge misconceptions about engineering. The website has a resource called ‘challenge cards’ which allows you to download a variety of STEM-based activities which can be done with objects that you would find around the house.

Roald Dahl  – Things to do indoors. Over on the Roald Dahl website they have collated a whole range of activities for the children to do indoors, they have separate sections for teaching, watching, doing and making, all of which can be done from home!

Roald Dahl for adults. Let’s not forget that it isn’t just the children who need entertaining during this time at home! The Roald Dahl website also has a great selection of activities and reading for adults too; important for us to engage with things that interest us at this time and keep ourselves occupied too! The adults section has a range of stories that can be read online for free and are specifically tailored to be read by adults.

The Khan Academy. For all the parents out there who have suddenly fallen into the role of ‘home-school teacher’, the Khan Academy have some amazing resources to try out. They provide free education for everyone around the world where you can personalise your learning with their trusted content.

Origami Club. This website allows you to watch video tutorials on 1000s of different origami designs which can easily be done at home. Do you think you could find a way to incorporate this activity into the ‘Creativism’ badge?

Girlguiding

Adventures at Home. While the unit meetings are closed Girlguiding is playing a virtual role in the lives of our children by providing enjoyable adventures to do at home. There will be an activity a day over on their social media accounts for anyone to join in on and two-unit meeting activities per section, per week over on the Adventures at Home Hub on the website.

Anna McNuff. Our very own Girlguiding spokesperson, Anna McNuff, is doing a live stream every Thursday evening at 7.30pm  on her Facebook page. She will be telling stories she has written; some will be from her unreleased book and some will be short stories she has written from her adventures.

These activities are just simple tools to help our members and girls feel like they can explore a range of different adventures from home and no one should feel any pressure to complete these activities through our time in self-isolation, if you want to relax on the sofa and watch films over Easter, do that instead!