VOLUNTEERING with Girlguiding Scotland is a real life changer, writes Fiona Dalziel.
Girlguiding Scotland’s army of more than 11,000 volunteers do inspirational work – and it’s thanks to them that Girlguiding Scotland creates amazing opportunities for thousands of girls across Scotland.
Last year each volunteer gave an average of 130 hours to guiding, helping about 50,000 girls and young women in Scotland to have fun, try new things and boost their confidence. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it! But speaking from my own experience, it’s every bit as rewarding for volunteers as it is for the girls we are helping to grow and learn.
I first joined Girlguiding Scotland as an adult volunteer more than 20 years ago. At the time I was working in a very busy job, travelling all over the UK. Guiding gave me a break from this. I was always at home on a Tuesday evening for Rangers – and when I was with them I was a different person. Working with these young women, who ranged from mid-teens to mid-twenties, gave me a whole new outlook on life. They were busy trying to make their way in the world. What would they do after school or university? What pressures were they under to look, act and behave a certain way? I was privileged to be a part of helping them work through these issues and become a group of confident and successful young women. I still see most of my Rangers – every one of them a success and happy with what they have achieved. Knowing that I’ve made a difference in their lives gives me a real sense of satisfaction.
Volunteering with Girlguiding Scotland is flexible – you can dip in and out as your time allows, and ongoing development and training is always available. As a volunteer I have learned new skills including leadership, teamwork and organisational skills – all things I’ve used in my paid job. It’s also given me a new perspective, and this too has had a positive impact in my professional life.
As an adult volunteer I had a new part of my life that was just for me, where I could switch off, and before long I wanted to share this amazing feeling with other people! So Girlguiding Scotland invested time and money in me and trained me to train others so I could pass on my enthusiasm and love for guiding to other Leaders. The training qualification gives you a great range of new skills including how to tailor your training and put your own stamp on it. This is an invaluable transferable skill, and one I have used regularly in my career.
When I became a volunteer for Girlguiding Scotland, I never dreamt I would go from leading my Rangers group to taking on the lead volunteer role in my area, Angus. No, I don’t get paid – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s what makes our organisation so special – we are run and led by volunteers and we put girls at the centre of everything we do.
Guiding has changed my life, from travelling the world to taking girls on international camps to learning new skills – for free! It’s flexible enough to fit in with my career and family, I’ve had fun – loads of fun – and I’ve made a whole heap of amazing friends. And in doing this I’ve helped girls and young women make a difference in the world in their own right. That’s reward enough for me.
• Fiona Dalziel is a Girlguiding Scotland volunteer and County Commissioner for Girlguiding Angus