Volunteering & Me: Milly, Girlguiding Leader in Training

With Volunteers’ Week on the horizon, our Marketing and Communications Executive Milly Coleman, sat down for a chat about her experience volunteering for two local Girlguiding units. Involved with Girlguiding since the age of 5 when she joined a Rainbow unit, some 20 years on Milly is still as passionate about the youth organisation that gives girls the confidence and experiences to know that they can do anything.

Tell us about the Girlguiding Unit(s) you volunteer at?

I currently volunteer for two Girlguiding units in Birmingham. One is a Brownies unit, for girls aged 7-10 years old, while the other is a Guides unit for ages 10-14. Both are very popular units with 20 brownies and 30 Guides, so the unit relies on a team of volunteer leaders to be able to deliver the learning programme and help the girls achieve all of their badges as they move through guiding. It’s busy, but very enjoyable and hugely rewarding.

What is your role there and how long have you been volunteering at the units?

I’ve been volunteering at both units for two years now. I am a leader in training, so I lead and plan activities, camps or experiences, along with the other leaders. I’m currently completing training to make sure I’m prepared for any unexpected situation, so I can lead independently.

Milly (right) has been connected to Girlguiding since she was just 5 years old as a Rainbow.

How many hours per week do you devote to volunteering?

It’s a minimum of 4 hours per week. My units meet on a Thursday evening so I cover both sessions. However, I also attend days out and weekends away which are some of the best parts of girlguiding – so I don’t feel like it’s a big draw on my time, it’s a great experience and it feels good helping out.

What’s the best experience you have had as a volunteer?

We recently took our Guides on a weekend away on the Girlguiding canal boat – it was a really fun couple of days! We slept on the canal boat and the girls got a chance to learn all about the canal system, the way a canal boat is navigated through the canals and of course, how the locks work. At the start, the guides were doubting that they were strong enough to operate the locks, but by the end of the weekend they were expertly demonstrating to walkers on the towpath! It was fantastic to see how much they enjoyed it and grew during the weekend.

What would you say to people who were thinking about volunteering somewhere, is it worthwhile?

I’d say go for it! It’s a great way to try something new, meet new people, and make a difference. And in my experience, as long as you are enthusiastic, you can learn the skills you need as you go along, so don’t worry about whether you will be useful. Every pair of hands is a help, wherever you are volunteering. It’s so rewarding, and you’ll learn so much from it as well as having the chance to impart your experience and expertise.

Do you have any advice for any causes out there looking for volunteers, how they can recruit?

I think volunteer open days or evenings are a real must! Giving potential volunteers a chance to come along and see the different ways they can get involved. A lot of people might be interested but they don’t know whether they have the right skills, when actually there are loads of different volunteer roles and often there is something for everyone. You just need to be open about what you need support with and be as flexible as possible.

Causes across the UK need your help

As well as spending her working days supporting all kinds of causes in raising vital funds, Milly uses her spare time to support 2 local guiding units, giving back to an organisation that played a big part in her life. Our recent research into grassroots causes across the UK has indicated a significant reduction in volunteers, so if you’re feeling inspired, now is the time to step up! Volunteer for a local organisation, and help them in their fundraising mission by supporting them through easyfundraising – raising free funds every time you shop online!