What makes GFS different from other girls’ youth groups?

There are various factors that present additional challenges for girls and young women; race, disability, socioeconomic background to name a few. GFS is committed to reaching the girls who need our support most. That’s why we are unique in opening our groups in areas where the need is greatest and offer a full fee waiver for any parent who needs it. All of our groups are…

Informal
At GFS we provide an informal, unintimidating environment that is accessible to all girls and young women. While sessions do have an outline, they rely less on a standardised structure, and place emphasis on personal development over formal achievement.

Non-competitive

At their heart, our activities are designed to develop self-esteem; the goals that GFS girls and young women achieve are personal and appropriate to them, and we discourage comparison of status and ability to others.

Girl-led

We offer girls and young women the opportunity to contribute to planning and delivery of activities based on what they enjoy and the issues they feel are relevant to them. This is great for building confidence and helping girls see themselves as potential leaders.

Feminist 

We are a proudly feminist organisation in that we support and advocate for women’s rights on the ground of the equality for all. We are committed to tackling exclusion and lack of access to opportunities due to gender inequality.

Who runs the sessions?

All sessions are run by women volunteers from the local community.

All volunteers are background checked and fully trained. Volunteers are required to complete training around safeguarding, health and safety, running a group and first aid in order to ensure the happiness and health of your child while at the group. Many groups are also supported by a local member of GFS staff.

All volunteers have the support of the full time GFS staff when they need it. This helps us to ensure that volunteers always have the professional support they need to run an excellent group.

Why do you only allow girls to take part in sessions?

The Equality Act recognises that some equality groups (e.g. women) are disadvantaged in some areas of life as a consequence of past or current discrimination and exclusion. The Act also enables organisations to take steps to help particular groups overcome disadvantage and meet needs that are different from the needs of other groups.

Studies have shown that accessing single-sex space is important for girls and young women. A review by YWCA and Girlguiding UK found that girls and young women were enthusiastic about having time away from boys. They also found that single-sex spaces encouraged girls to take more risks, express themselves and develop their self-confidence. In mixed gender settings, boys tended to dominate the space which reduced girls’ confidence. A single-sex environment also helps girls and young women to think about and challenge gender stereotypes.

What about boys?

In the same way that a charity addressing one kind of illness does not negate the importance of others, focusing attention on the needs of girls does not dismiss the serious issues facing boys and men.

While we specialise in empowering girls and young women, we fully support organisations that work to tackling issues faced by boys and young men, such as Future Men, Beyond Equality and Lads Need Dads.

Why do you only recruit women volunteers and staff to work directly with girls?

We believe that girls and young women need positive women role models to show them that they can achieve anything, regardless of their gender. It is important to us to inspire GFS girls by exposing them to women from all walks of life.

A sense of physical and emotional safety has also long been a key benefit of women-only services.

How can men support GFS?

Men can show their support for GFS by spreading the word about what we do. The more people who advocate for space where girls can feel valued and safe, the closer we get to gender equality.

As a charity, it’s also vital for us to raise funds to support the work we do. There’s more about some of the ways you could support GFS’s fundraising here.

Men can also take on staff or voluntary roles that do not require regular engagement with girls and young women participating in GFS sessions. These could include office-based roles, occasional roles (such as driving a minibus) and guest instructors, speakers and facilitators.

Are you a feminist organisation?

Yes, GFS is a feminist organisation in that we support and advocate for women’s rights on the ground of the equality.

Are you trans-inclusive?

GFS strives to play a part in building a fair society for everyone. This requires an intersectional approach that recognises and respects the rights of all people. This includes those who identify as transgender. We are proud to say that at GFS, trans women and girls will always be welcome, valued and supported.

Is there a uniform?

We like to keep sessions as relaxed and informal as possible, so do not enforce an official uniform. Some girls and young women go straight to GFS after school and attend in their school uniform, However, we do have a small number of GFS t-shirts and hoodies available on the website for anyone who would like one.

Is GFS a Christian organisation?

GFS was established in 1875 with close links to the Anglican Church and, for many years, worked under the patronage of the church and established groups within church settings.

Over the years, the work of the organisation has evolved to keep pace with the changing needs of girls and young women. We no longer provide groups with religion-based content, however those groups who choose to are free to incorporate elements of faith. These groups are clearly identified on this website, to ensure parents are aware of any elements of faith.