Guides on waiting list due to lack of leaders

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Parents-to-be are being advised to put their unborn babies on the waiting list to become guides and scouts due to a shortage of places.

Gemma Farley, 29, from Northgate, runs the Second Crawley Down Guides Unit and said the association was ‘crying out for volunteers’ to help run more classes and increase the number of places available.

She said: “We have waiting lists and we can’t take on girls especially in the brownies, because there aren’t enough leaders.

“We have suggested people put their babies on the waiting lists for guiding or scouting as soon as they know the gender.

“The waiting list is that long and rainbows start at the age of five so if they have them on from birth they have a chance of getting a place.”

Gemma, an HR adviser, joined the Brownies when she was seven. She became an assistant 14 years ago and a leader five years ago.

Gemma explained that assistants can put in as much time as they want.

She said: “As a guide leader, running the unit, it takes up more of my time than as an assistant. There’s more paper work for me to do, programme planning and activities.

“For an assistant or adult helper there wouldn’t necessarily be anything for them to do unless they wanted to do it.”

Gemma explained that people often had old fashioned preconceptions about the guides.

She said: “There was a view - because of all it’s history of being Christian - that it’s linked to churches but these days we do a whole array of activities.

“My unit do bungee trampolining, rock climbing, we goes on days out in London, see shows, go on camps. Those are all additional things to the weekly meetings.”

Being a leader has provided Gemma with many opportunities.

She said: “I’ve had so many doors open for me. There’s a world of opportunities. The first job I got in HR was because I said I volunteer and run a unit.

“It gives me confidence in all aspects of my life, in giving presentations and just talking to people.”

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