Vivienne Geard is a volunteer with GFS Leytonstone
Whilst it can sometimes be difficult to fit the weekly sessions into a busy work schedule, I find them so rewarding and they’ve become the highlight of my week.
I like the challenge of coming up with ideas for the sessions that the girls will find both interesting and fun. Together with the other volunteers in our group, we’ve covered a wide variety of themes and activities – from celebrating pancake day to learning about climate change, code breaking and doing science experiments. l also really enjoy the flexibility of the sessions and playing off the girls’ interest and energy to pursue a topic, or run the session in a slightly different way than planned. The variety and flexibility allows each of the girls an opportunity to shine as the different types of sessions and activities play to their strengths and interests and even just how they’re feeling on the day.
I have learnt a lot in the process too. I have learnt a lot about communicating – keeping the girls engaged for more than a few minutes, is a lot harder than talking to a room full of adults! I have really enjoyed getting to know them individually too, learning their likes and dislikes, experiencing their creativity, wit and intellect and seeing them develop and grow in confidence over time (and hope that I have contributed to that in some small way).
A lifelong volunteer community
Many GFS volunteers become lifelong members of the community. Not because of the commitments they make to the us as an organisation, but because of the bonds they build between them and with the amazing groups of girls they lead.
While former GFS Wales and GFS World President, Glenys, has been a part of the community since 1992. Even after stepping back from active volunteering, Glenys remains in constant contact with volunteers and the organisation. As a mother and volunteer, GFS gave her and her family something special they could share together.
GFS was a huge part of my daughter Frances’ life – who had been in GFS since she was two-three years old. It helped her, her friends, and many other young people realise the good and difficult things in life, and develop the ability to ask questions and form opinions. I didn’t have that as a child, as we were expected to ‘seen but not heard’ as children.-Glenys, published in the South Wales Guardian
Barbara from GFS Layton has been a part of GFS since 1942-43, when she was seven-years-old. While she started out as a GFS girl, by the time she was 19 she became a leader, and has done so ever since. Barbara describes GFS as ‘a way of life’, and many volunteers and former GFS girls use their experiences with us in their education, careers and personal lives.
Like Barbara, Georgia from GFS Aigburth has been with GFS since she was a girl, moving from attendee to role model as she grew up. Georgia has been with her group for 15-years and counting.
Lyn Marriott volunteers at GFS Stanwix
In 2019 I was considering what I wanted to be when I grew up and drew a blank… In an attempt to find my “passion” I turned to volunteering. I knew that I wanted to do something with children, as I knew that I wanted children to have the confidence, ability and self-esteem to be their best self so that they didn’t get to midlife still wondering what they were going to be when they grew up!
The search didn’t take long and led me to GFS.
I spoke to some really lovely ladies who ensured I had the right ethos – GFS is all about empowering girls to be their best self and overcome stereotypes. Then I went along to meet the girls. They are a great bunch, a mixture of ages and backgrounds as well as interests.
In typical Lyn style, for my second week I rocked up with a list of games as long as my arm, water balloons, outdoor equipment, doughnuts and cakes. I was more excited than the girls!
Supporting the group helped lead me to some training with Relax Kids and I am now a Relax Kids coach and incorporate some of the techniques into the sessions. I have been supported by GFS with training and ideas and really enjoy the group despite having a busy life! But it’s worth it, they make me laugh, and have helped give me passion and purpose.
Volunteering with GFS really does have benefits you would not get elsewhere-I love giving back and helping shape the women of our future.
What volunteers say about GFS
In our most recent annual survey:
- Volunteers are overwhelmingly positive about their connection to GFS
- 100% of volunteers surveyed are proud to be part of the work GFS does and 91% agreed GFS is a good place to volunteer
- 89% of volunteers feel that their volunteering makes a difference in the lives of girls and young women
- 86.5% of volunteers feel that they are supported by staff
Already the girls are telling us as a team how much they love the club and how much they look forward to coming. The girls have also said how much they love all of the volunteers because they engage with them, help them and make the session fun.-GFS Townhill volunteer