The Chief Commissioner, Carole Pennington, welcomed 130 delegates to the Region’s 2019 Membership, Growth & Retention Conference which was held at Center Parcs, Longleat Forest on Saturday 23rd November.
Liz Brown and Yvonne Le Page introduced an Ice Breaker session which included a reminder of the recruitment leaflets and tools which are now available from Region, and a competition to highlight how much everyone knew about Region - and where any gaps in their knowledge might lay!
The Keynote Speaker was Laura Cottey, Girlguiding’s Lead Volunteer for Growth, Retention and Collaboration. Laura talked about recruitment and flexible guiding and revealed that 45% of parents had said they would be likely to volunteer if asked or given more information! She explained that when a new girl member is registered, a new parents/carers welcome pack is automatically sent out. This includes two pages of information on ways they can become involved in Guiding – and applies to Dads and Brothers too! Laura also talked about the importance of holding ‘leaving conversations’ with girls and their families – would joining a unit in a new location be a possibility?
Diane Bouault talked about Action for Change and this was followed by an opportunity for the Counties and Islands to ‘Share Good Practice’ with each displaying on their table examples of events or activities they had recently introduced – Bristol & South Gloucestershire’s ‘Shaun the Sheep’ with his message to ‘Join the flock’ attracted a lot of attention!
The afternoon offered delegates the chance to take part in two pre-selected sessions from the following:
Data (Yvonne Le Page with Clair Beaver and Vikki Warner from Region Office)
An explanation of the information available on County/Island membership and how this can support Growth Plans. Data which might be interesting or surprising, or something you might want to keep an eye on and explore further.
Recruitment Toolkit (Michele Peace and Kathleen Butler)
An introduction to the resources these contain and how they can be used to support Growth Plans. Delegates were urged to find out where their County/Island toolkit is held. A reminder that although the balloons in the kit are bio-degradable, some venues still won’t allow them to be used.
Stay with Girlguiding (Liz Brown and Angela Hammond)
Looking at different opportunities to offer members and why saying ‘thank you’ is so important. Liz and Angela also discussed inclusion and the importance of providing the same experience for all.
Resourcing (Louse Barkes, from Girlguiding)
The resources available and how these can be accessed. How to put something together that works from the first ‘Warm Welcome’ to encouraging continued support. How can you use your existing members as recruitment tools? The girls are the best advocates for Girlguiding, they are the reason you volunteer and are the reason the people you are talking to will want to volunteer.
Diversity and Grants (Lynne Woolley from LaSER)
Looking at projects which have worked locally, who to contact to get the ball rolling, how to get noticed and the grants which are available. Lynne explained that it is not language difficulties or perceptions which prevent girls from minority groups joining Girlguiding, it is simply that they don’t know we exist. She stressed the importance of talking about ‘tasks’ not ‘roles’ when encouraging new volunteers to join. People with specialist skills can be invited along to meetings to help with badges, etc.