We wanted to share a little about the fundraising we do and what we spend the money on.

We work generally as a group of 3 units when it comes to fundraising (1st Barnehurst, 4th Barnehurst and 4th North Heath). The reason for this, is whenever we do an event outside of our unit meeting times it is for girls across all three units; this means that our volunteer leaders don’t need to give as many weekends and it also means we can offer more.

Pre-covid as a group we offered 3 residential/camp opportunities every year and at least 6 different outings or fun days. We’re hoping to get back to something similar but this all costs money and we’ve missed out on some of our prime fundraising opportunities.

During lockdown 1 we created a princess fun (fun badge) to use as part of a virtual sleepover. As it’s for 3 units we didn’t want to put a unit name or trefoil on so keeping it very much as a fun badge. We went on to create 4 more over the year and currently have stock in all of these fun badges. We managed to use them to theme our terms and activities and even themed some programme activities too. So far we’ve sold lots of badges – but do have a stock of all badges for anyone who would like to grab one for their blanket (you can find them here: We’re planning to launch more fun badges to this series over the next year, but first we’d like to share these with more units across the country.

The money we have raised so far has bought badges for all girls across the units, it’s purchased some new circus skills equipment and we’re hoping that in the next year we can use it to go on a trip slightly further afield.

In the last week our Friday Rainbows (4th Barnehurst) have launched a challenge badge for the Rainbows 35th Birthday in 2022. Although this sits just with them, they are planning to use the money to host a celebration event to benefit lots of Rainbows from other units too (just as long as they can sell lots and lots of badges).

So please do share with everyone you know the fun badges on offer, and the new 35th Birthday Challenge, we’d love to provide new opportunities for the girls in the units.

Welcoming new Rainbows

We always knew that it’d be a quieter start to term with only a few left on our books from the last term and also not many on our list to start. We decided to host a taster evening for anyone interested in becoming a Rainbow. We had 7 potential new Rainbows turn up along with 5 of our current Rainbows. So for us, it was definitely a quiet night. But it was fabulous; we got to know the girls and for one of the new ones who wouldn’t even nod or shake her head at the start she was talking to others by the end of the evening.

We kept the evening really simple, we had some crafty activities and some LEGO to play with too, we did our opening and closing songs and showed everyone the types of badges we do at Rainbows too.

As a team; we’ve learned that first night back in September isn’t a great time to run a Rainbows taster night as some of the girls hadn’t even had their first day of school; but hopefully when they make friends at school we’ll find some more want to come and get involved too.

Next week we’re getting started with some unit meeting activities so lots of games next week which we didn’t get time to do this week.

Taster Night

Tuesday 7 September at 6pm. We’re holding a taster night for potential new Rainbows (plus our existing Rainbows will be there too). We’ve got some making activities, some games and some team activities too. All so girls can find out about Rainbows before joining. If you know someone who’d like to come along and try Rainbows, then bring them along on the night!!

Preparing for the start of term

So what do we need to do for the start of term…

  1. Offer places to new girls
  2. Remind girls of our starting back date, and to let them know some of the things we have planned
  3. Advertise any remaining spaces we have to the general public
  4. Write the start of term letter and consent form for events
  5. Write and discuss the Risk Assessment for the term and also for each event
  6. Submit Risk Assessments for approval as required
  7. Update membership records of those who’ve moved on to Brownies

So how far have we got… We’ve completed tasks 1, 2 and 3 and are working our way through 4 to cover 1st and 4th Barnehurst Rainbows, 4th North Heath Rainbows and 2nd Barnehurst Guides and Rangers… it’s a long process, but we need to make sure we get them right so that parents and carers have all of the information they need.

At the moment we still need to get risk assessments approved for our general meetings and also for events and outings just to make sure we’re covering everything covid related and someone else has had a check through so we’re not missing anything vital.

The first challenge

As I alluded to in my first post, our unit is low on current members. Pre-covid we’d have around 35 girls each term, but due to covid we lost our usual flow of girls both in and out, and therefore in July we actually said goodbye to 17 girls who are moving on to Brownies. Some of those have done a whole extra year at Rainbows to keep the normality and to wait for a space at their preferred unit, so we’re now down to just 10 girls, and although we have some on the waiting list we’re at about half capacity.

For any leader who’s been in this situation, it’s hard work trying to recruit girls when you’ve not had a flow of girls telling their friends, but this has been even more difficult as girls didn’t want to join on zoom as they were zoomed out and we’ve not been able to get out and about so the public haven’t seen the awesome things we normally get up to.

So how do I recruit during this time of not being able to go out and do a lot? How do I get into schools and how do I do any of this with a newborn? This morning I sent off a few more emails to local schools with a flyer attached asking for them to advertise the unit if they can, all while thankfully Dad has been feeding the little one.

I shared my first post with my husband and his comment was ‘well you work as well so after maternity leave you’ll have that to fit around as well, you enjoy work, will you manage everything’. Now I am very lucky as my day job is great with flexibility, I work a fair number of evenings and weekends on top of the usual 9-5 (well 7:30 – 4) but they are flexible, I used to use my lunch breaks to send emails to parents, or write a letter – and I think that will continue, as they say a Guide uses her time and abilities wisely, so I’m sure I’ll continue to do some admin on my lunch breaks, and finish early some days, but work later others. I’m looking forward to getting back to work next year and seeing how I manage with everything.

I’m on to the next challenge of preparing for our start of term, checking the budget for the year and make amendments to this if needed, inviting new girls from the waiting lists, writing start of term letters and prepping resources. Finally checking and updating the weekly risk assessment and writing any others for additional trips and events we’ve got coming up this term.

Recruitment resources I have been using (thanks to Lisa’s guiding illustrations for some of these). I have edited to show we’ll be taking girls aged 4 at Rainbows as part of the pilot.

Welcome to Cloudy’s Corner

I’m Cloudy, main contact for 4th Northumberland Heath Rainbows (along with a few other units). This blog series is designed to give an insight in to the life of a leader with a small child, trying to get the balance right, between family and guiding.

This first entry will tell you a bit more about me, why I guide and what I hope I’ll achieve as mum and leader.

I’m Vicky (or Cloudy to the Rainbows). I first joined Girlguiding as a Rainbow, aged 5 with 1st Barnehurst Rainbows (I was their 51st Rainbow). I then progressed to 6th Barnehurst Brownies and on to 2nd Barnehurst Guides. While at Guides I jumped at the opportunity to become a Rainbow Helper and went back to 1st Barnehurst Rainbows aged 12 where I was given the name Cloudy. When I left Guides there wasn’t a Senior Section unit at the time so I continued as a Young Leader with Rainbows, but also returned to Guides a year later as a Young Leader. When I turned 18 I started my Leadership Qualification and finished this while at uni. When I returned from university I continued with both the Rainbows and Guides.

In 2013 I was asked if I’d like to run a unit, and I jumped at the chance, this unit was 4th Northumberland Heath Rainbows. I started with just 10 girls and over the last 8 years we’ve grown to have around 30-35 each term (although we’re about to start recruiting as Covid meant we unfortunately didn’t have a lot of new girls start while we were on Zoom). The following year, another leader and I were talking and looking at the waiting lists for Rainbows, they were long and girls were missing out or only managing to get a term before Brownies. We opted to open 4th Barnehurst Rainbows (hoping we’d find some other volunteers to run the unit for the long term). So by this point, I was a leader on a Tuesday, Wednesday and now a Friday for Rainbows along with Guides on a Friday as well. Every unit is different, and a different set of girls and therefore a different programme with each unit is needed, not just for the girls, but kept us as leaders excited too.

Fast forward to 2020 – I was finding that girls were leaving Guides but not going on to Rangers as they couldn’t do a different day, or were unsure about moving venue and trying to fit things in with school work, we agreed to open 2nd Barnehurst Rangers alongside Guides and we now have a small but healthy unit. Yes another unit of admin and activities to arrange, but to see girls continue in guiding is great.

So lots of people call me crazy to give up this much time (but thanks to a leader called Pat Tiley), I don’t see it as ‘giving up’. I freely give my time as when using the term ‘giving up’ it makes me feel like I am resenting the time I give and that is certainly not the case. Why? I want to ensure girls joining guiding get at least similar opportunities to those I got as a young member, but also as a leader I get a lot of opportunities too.

I owe the dedication I now give to the leaders who gave their time for me (and they are all still giving their time as volunteers within guiding). I remember all or almost all of the opportunities they gave me and I hope I am providing a similar legacy.

When I start to add up the time I give, just unit meetings alone it’s 5.5 hours a week plus the admin time and set up and pack down time and even just shopping for things we need. Thankfully, I don’t do it alone, I wouldn’t be able to!! I have an incredible team of volunteers working around me, Debbie, Theresa and Sarah (who were actually leaders at Rainbows when I was a Rainbow), Ellie, Mala, Alyson and Lorraine who have all joined me with Tuesday Rainbows over the last 8 years. Alex, Josie, Chloe and Sue who offered to come and help with our (Debbie and I’s) new venture of Friday Rainbows and also help with Guides along with Emma, Ann and Lucy; finally Beth, who is the most recent addition to 1st Barnehurst Rainbows and it’s great to have a new pair of hands in the team.

As well as the volunteers, I have my family: my husband and now my daughter, but also my Mum and Dad who continue to help to transport me and the kit to guiding when necessary 😀 Just to persuade mum to complete her leadership qualification now 😀

I think that’s me, Vicky, Cloudy, Mum, Leader (and any other name you’d like to call me)… So stick with me over the next term or so while I take you through my experiences of balancing family life and guiding, let’s see how it works.

We did it!!

We managed to have a full term in person again, yes we had girls needing to isolate at points during the term, but overall we were able to meet together and get back to some more normality.

This term was crazy; Cloudy had her baby girl, we celebrated the Queen’s birthday, we completed a Skills Builder, lots of UMAs, 2 fun badges and we had an in-person outdoor event and a virtual sleepover!!

At the end of term we said goodbye to 17 girls who are moving on to Brownies. Some of these girls have held on for a space for the last year, and to have a little bit of normality before moving on. It’s been lovely to have them, but we know they’ll have so much more fun moving on to Brownies. We’re so proud of how they’ve shown such great resilience through their 18 months of zoom and social distance.

From these 17 girls we handed out Gold Awards to Amber, Catriona, Kaitlyn, Isabella O and Jasmine S, Silver Awards to Isabella C, Poppy and Ariah. Bronze Awards to Freya and Ellenor-May. Well Done to all you – you have worked so hard and achieved so much. It’s been so lovely to see the boost in confidence and we can’t wait to hear what you get up to at Brownies.

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We’re now spending the summer preparing for next term, recruiting new Rainbows to join in the fun and creating resources. All using ideas the girls have shared with us, because they really do design their own activities.

April to May half term – The roundup

What a six weeks!! It’s been great to be back in person and to have so many new Rainbows join us for the first time.

This term we have worked on our Lead skills builder badge which has been great fun and seen us making marble mazes, teaching each other our talents, finding out what makes us all unique and even designing our own team zoos! We managed to do this badge so that those who had already earned stage 1 but are waiting for a space at Brownies were able to earn stage 2. We’re hopeful that social distancing will be reduced for September so that those who are able to can move up.

Alongside this badge, we’ve been doing lots of garden themed activities, from growing a sprouting tent to playing the beans game. We’ve made our own adventure gardens with swings and tree houses and animals and waterfalls and water slides, the girls have so much imagination, I want to go to all of the different gardens.

Our final session of the term has seen us make birthday cards for the Queen, completed Monster Mash and planned our royal tea party.

We’re so proud of how well the girls have managed to keep their distance and adapt to the covid secure rules.