By Sinéad Goldsboro
In the words of the iconic World War I British recruitment poster featuring Lord Kitchener, the local branch of the Irish Girl Guides needs you.
Due to the demand in girls wanting to join the branch, the call is out for volunteers to assist with the Guides aged 10 ½ to 15 years old.
The Guide Unit was re-established last October by Irene Reale and Catherine O’Connor. Irene has a long history with the Irish Girl Guides as she was involved with the branch in Thurles when it was first set up in the 70’s. She is also Assistant National Treasurer for the Association in Ireland. Catherine has been in the Guides since she was a girl. Not only is she a volunteer for the Thurles Guides but she also works full time with the Irish Girl Guides National Office which is based in Dublin where she is the Communications and Support Officer.
There are over 11,000 girls and 1,300 adult volunteers involved in the Irish Girl Guides. They offer programmes which are progressive, active and educational. The organisation is also a wonderful way for young girls to grow in confidence. This is something the organisation has always prided itself on. For their recent Centenary celebrations, the organisation undertook a survey of former Guides. From the oldest – Elaine O’Connell from Cork who is in her 70’s to the youngest, 20 year old Doireann Eves from Kildare, that were surveyed, the one thing that kept coming through was how their confidence grew as a result of being a Guide.
Here is what some of the Thurles girls have to say about the organisation:
“I like guides, making new friends and I am not shy anymore because of guides” - Emma Jordan
“Guides is good fun especially going camping and it’s great seeing my friends outside of school” - Keely O’Dwyer
“I love meeting all my friends and going camping and having loads of fun” - Sarah Barrett
The Girl Guides organisation was founded in 1911 with the first Irish Unit being established in Harold’s Cross, Dublin, in 1916.
To become a volunteer, you do not need to have been a Girl Guide yourself, in fact half of the volunteer leaders were never involved in the Guides. The organisation provides training and support to all leaders. By volunteering you will develop life skills that include teamwork, interpersonal skills, assertiveness along with confidence. Support is always available to the leaders so a leader will never be at loss as to what to do should an unusual situation arise. All Leaders are Garda Vetted and receive child protection and code of ethics training.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to make a real difference to the lives of girls in your community while you gain some amazing experience. When I spoke to Catherine, she said “Volunteering is great for anyone to gain new skills and to grow in confidence, for example, it is a great way for student teacher or qualified teachers that cannot get a job to gain experience in dealing with a large group of young people. Also, for people who are now unemployed due to the downturn in the economy, it is a great thing to have on their CV”.
The only requirement that the organisation needs is that the volunteer be genuinely interested in working with young people and helping them to improve their lives. Catherine and Irene hope to recruit enough volunteers so that there is a large team that can share the workload that is involved in running a local branch.
Activities with the Guides include offering voluntary services to the community, camping, fun activities in and out door, practical skills and they also help the girls to develop their own spirituality and respect for other cultures and religions. Some of the aims of the organisation include helping the girls to develop leadership skills, be involved in decision making, learning practical skills, behave responsibly in upholding the laws of the country, to be aware of the needs of others and to appreciate and use the environment responsibly.
The guides meet in the Presentation Primary School Hall every Friday from 6.00-7.15 p.m. We will be moving to Monday nights from 7.30 to 9.00 p.m. in the new year.
If you would like more information on becoming a volunteer please contact Catherine O’Connor on 0868537732 or on the National Irish Girl Guides on 01-6683898. Alternatively you can email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org