#iwill Week – Girls tackle poverty

From litter pick-up efforts to raising money for important local causes, many units across Scotland take social action in their communities.


This #iwill Week, 141st Glasgow Guides leader in training, Ashley, talks about the great work her unit has been doing to learn more about the impact of poverty and explore the different ways they can help.

As well as being a Girlguiding Scotland volunteer I work for a charity called the Poverty Alliance – Scotland’s anti-poverty network. We boost awareness of the challenges faces by those living in poverty and push our governments to introduce meaningful solutions. Thanks to my job I’m able to talk to our girls about this important issue and encourage them to make a difference however they can.

To mark #iwill Week, a week that celebrates young people taking social action, I wanted to share how I recently helped my amazing unit learn more about how poverty impacts people in Scotland, and how they can do their bit to makes things better.

Bringing the issue of poverty into the guiding space can be tricky; it’s a sensitive and often heart-breaking topic, but that’s why it’s important that it gets discussed. It’s crucial that Guides, who may well be leaders in the future, have an empathetic and compassionate understanding of the struggles of people living in poverty.

So, we decided to shape our unit meeting around the issues of equality, equity and fairness. We asked Guides to bring along donations for a local foodbank (which went really well) and talked about the value of giving back to our community. It allowed us to talk to the girls about the hidden nature of poverty and stress that poverty knows no postcodes.

We worked through two UMAs which broadly covered these values. One activity asked the girls to consider the different barriers that young people living in poverty may face when it comes to participating in guiding. The other UMA asked Guides to consider the differences between equality and equity, encouraging them to think about how different households need different levels of support. I was really encouraged and warmed by the sincerity of their engagement with the topic; many had a lot to say!

For other units who want to get involved in social action, a good place to start is talking to your girls. Find out what issues they care about and then find local charities/ organisations in your area that do work on that subject. Then find UMAs that can be shaped to deal with those issues, or Girlguiding Scotland challenge and activity badges that link up with whatever cause you’re keen to support. It’s a great way to get girls to think about their place in their community and how to give back.

Get involved in #iWill Week

You can find out more information about #iwill Week here.