1500 girls on Brownie/Guide groups waiting list

Fiona Rushworth volunteered so her daughter Stephanie, left, could follow in her big sister Sophie's steps as a Rainbow. Picture: Alex Hewitt
Fiona Rushworth volunteered so her daughter Stephanie, left, could follow in her big sister Sophie's steps as a Rainbow. Picture: Alex Hewitt
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AN SoS has been issued for volunteers to lead Brownie and Guide troops in Edinburgh after it emerged more than 1500 girls are stuck on a waiting list.

A shortage of volunteers and an increase in the number of girls keen to join has led to the current crisis.

Edinburgh has the longest waiting list in Scotland for Rainbow, Brownie and Guide units. There are 286 units across the city but more than 50 more and 150 new adult volunteers are needed to cope with demand.

Special recruitment events are now being planned in a bid to fill the gap.

Alison Rankin, recruitment co-ordinator for Girlguiding, said one of the reasons for the low numbers of volunteers was the high turnover of student helpers, at a time when there was a continuing demand for places.

She said: “It’s always had a strong appeal for girls to have a chance to find their own space, particularly away from school.

“I think it is still attractive, particularly in the younger age groups, where people are joining the waiting list when they are very young.

“We need to address that and try to get extra help for the groups and open up new groups in areas of the city where there are none.”

Rainbows caters for girls aged from five to seven years old, Brownies is for seven to ten-year-olds, Guides for ten to 14-year-olds and Seniors for girls up to 25.

Mum-of-two Fiona Rushworth stepped in to save a Rainbows unit in Balerno from closure last August, because she was so keen for her six-year-old, Stephanie, to attend.

The 47-year-old said: “My eldest daughter, Sophie, was in Rainbows and they were having to close it because the two volunteers were leaving.

“I really wanted my youngest daughter to experience it, and to get as much time in Rainbows as possible.

“I had been a parent helper and because I enjoyed helping out so much, I decided I wanted to lead the unit.”

The Balerno Rainbows group has the full 15 members, with a waiting list of 16 girls.

Fiona, who works as a pupil support assistant at Gracemount Primary School, said: “The girls love it. We try to make each session something different. I think they like that they are working towards goals and they have something at the end of it.

“You have a bit of admin to do but mostly we are getting out and exploring. Just seeing their faces makes it worthwhile.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com