November has been a truly exciting month for us at GFS, with our six group launches taking us all over England, touching down in Birmingham, Sunderland, Manchester, Liverpool and London.
At GFS we’re committed to opening groups for girls across England and Wales. Following the safe re-opening of our groups in September, we’ve re-launched two groups and opened four new ones. Each new group brings new communities, dedicated volunteers and outstanding groups of girls into the GFS family.
Keep reading to find out more about each exciting new group.
Volunteers led by their group coordinator, Brittany, created a lovely, welcoming atmosphere for all in attendance on Tuesday 9 November. The re-launch of GFS Leytonstone had a great turnout of girls and supporters, with two councillors from Waltham Forest Council joining in on the festivities as well. Jemma, our Head of Operations for the South, and Brittany, our Group Coordinator for Leytonstone created a lovely, welcoming atmosphere, in which girls who didn’t know each other, as well as volunteers who didn’t know each other, felt encouraged to get stuck into some activities, while talking about how they were feeling using clever images of Michelle Obama!
Councillor Jenny Gray and Councillor Marie Pye came out in support, with Councillor Gray cutting the ribbon during the opening ceremony. Both councillors shared that they thought GFS was wonderful, wishing they had it when they were growing up. Looking back, both councillors remembered recording self-doubt, their weight and lack of ambition in their diaries from a very early age. They shared their support of GFS because they both want the local girls to have the confidence and resilience they didn’t have at that time.
They believe GFS will be well supported within the community and added that their council would be keen to support GFS by telling the two local primary schools about our group.
But most importantly of all, the girls had a lovely time – including a new little one who didn’t want her mum to leave at first, but waved her off happily part way in, and a returning girl begging us to extend the age to 12, so she doesn’t have to leave!
Our CEO described the night quite simply as, ‘heart-warming stuff that made me feel so proud to be connected to GFS’.
Girls and volunteers alike had a fantastic time at the launch of our new group in Smethwick on Monday 15 November. We received a very warm welcome at The Dorothy Parkes Centre, with girls gathering outside the venue in the lobby for roughly 20-minutes prior to the start time. Anticipation was huge and one little girl said she had not been able to sleep the night before as she was so excited to come to a girls group for the first time.
The group officially opened with the cutting of the red ribbon by Councillor Parbinder Kaur, photographed by local press. The session was full of hustle and bustle with lots of girls and volunteers, and even more sign-ups coming in on the night. Now they’re even operating a waiting list to join!
We received so much support from the Dorothy Parkes Centre and Councillor Parbinder Kaur, who is really committed to supporting GFS and seeing us thrive. All involved said there is such a need for GFS in Smethwick. We are hoping this group will work beautifully alongside its neighbour in Bearwood.
The volunteers were wonderful and supported Jemma and their group coordinator, Eleanor, beautifully. The time went by so fast, it was a wonderful start to what is sure to be a great group.
Our Mile End group launched with lots of glitter and laughter on Tuesday 16 November. The girls and volunteer team got stuck into the activities so quickly and enthusiastically, with such a happy, relaxed atmosphere, that it hardly felt like a new group at all.
The combination of personalities from each of the girls really came together, forming a well-rounded group. There was a lot of singing from the girls, which appeared to be building the foundations of a lot of new friendships. The volunteers, supported by Jemma and their group coordinator, Jessica, were also amazing and perfect representations of GFS.
The girls had such a great time that they didn’t want to leave at the end. It was lovely to see the outcome of so much hard work from everyone at GFS.
Rusholme’s group launched on Thursday 18 November with so much professionalism, it seemed like they had been doing this forever. Councillor Jill Lovecy attended wearing suffragette colours for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Councillor Lovecy even went to the library before the event to find a postcard with a 1927 picture of GFS women. It was such a thoughtful gesture and much appreciated on our end.
Before the ribbon cutting ceremony, Councillor Lovecy spoke to the girls directly, pledging her help. From there, Elicia, the group coordinator, led a team of fabulous volunteers with such grace, giving them all a chance to really shine.
In the beginning, the girls were shy and a little nervous, but they got stuck in quickly and began opening up and sharing a little about themselves during circle time:
‘I love elephants,’ one girl said.
‘My favourite colour is black,’ said another.
‘I love my family,’ a third girl added.
‘Even though I am in a wheelchair I like to be brave and try new things,’ one girl declared.
Another great launch!
We had a great launch in Redhouse on Tuesday 16 November. The group is a different from some of the others, with a slightly smaller number and a few quite shy girls. But that’s part of what made it so lovely to watch them starting to come out of their shells and trying the activities set up for them. They’re a dog-mad bunch and bonded over their pets and favourite foods.
Lucy, the group coordinator, did a great job of guiding the session and everyone in attendance. Special guests on the night included Deputy Mayor Allison Smith and one of our new trustees, Georgia Mylona. Allison has been involved with youth work in the Redhouse community for over 40 years through Girl Guiding. She was quick to let us know that she could not have been more pleased that this group was opening in a community that desperately needed it.
Before cutting the ribbon and officially opening the group, Allison talked to the girls, telling them how shy she had been at their age and sharing that it was a youth group just like GFS that helped bring her out of her shell, starting her journey to becoming the councillor she is today! Allison had some beautiful words for the girls reminding them that they could achieve anything they wanted, to always be proud of who they are and to never to be afraid to be themselves, because they were all special.
But don’t worry, the girls weren’t the only ones who received kind offers, Allison got something out of it too, with one of the girls offering to paint her nails for her if she came back the next week.
Our launch at Anfield on Thursday 11 November went fantastically, with ten girls joining us at the buzzing Anfield Community Sports Centre. Group Coordinator Liv and volunteers Hannah and Laura did a great job of engaging the girls and helping them get to know each other and making the group feel comfortable. They did such a good job running the session, that it didn’t feel like a launch at all – instead it felt as though the group had been running for years.
They were a wonderful group of girls, and Group Coordinator Liv and volunteers Hannah and Laura did a great job of engaging them, helping them get to know each other and making the group feel comfortable. We even noticed that the girls who were quiet at the start really find their voices through the evening.
Confidence was not an issue for all of the girls, as you will see from the picture below, with Kim, our fearless Head of Operations for the North, even being ordered out at one point due to her football allegiances. Food also seemed to be on everyone’s minds, featuring heavily during circle time and on the girls’ GFS crests, and we think you’ll be pleased to hear that everyone left covered in copious amounts of glitter.
The Anfield group had several special guests at the launch, featuring Anfield Councillor Lena Simic, who greeted the girls and officially opened the group with the cutting of the red ribbon. Also in attendance were Anna Farrell, from Liverpool FA and Germaine Fryer from The Women’s Organisation, who was so impressed that she is arranging for each of the girls to receive a goody bag to welcome them to the group. All three guests said how much they would have benefitted from a similar group and noted that the turnout was good for a first venture into a close knit community.
On top of that, parents are already sending us lovely feedback about the group. We truly cannot wait to see how this group, and all of our new groups grow from here.
We were very well supported at each and every launch, from our staff team, to volunteers, throughout the communities and beyond. We are tremendously grateful for all of the help and support we have received in making these launches successful. See you all at the next group launch!
To find out more about your local group and how you or your girls can get involved, please visit our group finder.