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Weekly Discussion: Affordable for all?

Are we at risk of pricing out anyone from being a unit leader?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Mixed

  • Unsure

  • Other


Results are only viewable after voting.

badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#1
One of the misconstructions that Guiding has fought for a long time is that it is a middle class activity for middle class girls and women run by solely middle class women. In reality units have always been in a mixture of areas, and nowadays grass root volunteers come from all walks of life. But could this be about to change?

With regard to the programme this can have varied depending on how leaders have run it (this could change with the new programme) and what is available locally. My mum lived in a village outside of the city but went to school inside the city, and was envious of her classmates Guide unit that went to the panto at the "big" theatre in town, the units were no different off it was just that one would have to consider transport into the cost on top of tickets to the show. Some units may have appeared more "twee" than others, and it may have been a fair assessment or it may have stemmed from prejudice of who the leader was without setting foot into a meeting with her. Perhaps at one time proficiency/interest badges could have been criticised as they served niche areas, but this was often before there were other formalised schemes that recognised certain hobbies/activities (or at least didn't recognise females). As an example swimmer has always been popular- but the girls now earning it are often already at swimming lessons with a bag or towel boasting ASA badges. Interest badges are now fewer in some respects but more accessible. A critique I sometimes saw of the outgoing programme was that some of the elements relied on a certain level of income or access to resources. Was it truly possible for any Brownie regardless of personal circumstances to have achieved rider in the same way that they could have achieved artist? What was gained in Guiding affirming their talents or ability to partake in activities that lay outside of possible regular unit activities or the Guiding programme?

Similarly I hear discussions about running and achieving things such as QGA and BPA adventures, and the associated costs/ attitudes. Although not strictly Guiding it was grouped by Guiding, I gave in the feedback when asked about my thoughts on my Gold DofE presentation that it was unfair that the "inspirational speaker" for our group didn't seem to have been briefed on that she would be talking to young women from a variety of backgrounds, and that if she was it came across a little tone deaf. She said that if we were ever stuck in a rut in life or unsure what to do next we could do something like travel or quit work just do what makes us happy for a bit, followed by being asked where we went for our expeditions- and that they wanted to hear about something exciting "not just the UK". For many stood in the group that was completely redundant information, and it put a damper on what should have been a very special occasion seeing so many faces fall, it took ages for anyone to speak up as so many had "just" gone somewhere in the UK. We can talk about grants and subsidised trips but for some members this only happens once in their Guiding life time, the trip to Our Chalet when they were in Guides meant that they had a very modest residential trip for their QGA later as a Ranger. Some girls will go on an exploration round a city somewhere else in their region with some Guiding peers/friends for their QGA and others will have trekked across some overseas mountains on an expedition- both are adventures in their own right and meet the conditions. Both should be equally celebrated, and at least at the national Guiding events I've been to they seem to be.

Guiding for all girls, it might seem, will always be affordable and possible (at least in theory). But what concerns me is are we at risk of pricing out any potential grassroots volunteers from being able to run units?

Buying materials and resources for units can be pricey, and even if the unit is well off it doesn't matter as the nature of charity accounts often means leaders are left short until they can reclaim and be reimbursed. You also need regular access to a secure computer with internet access and be able to physically make it to trainings and local meetings to get the most out of opportunities. There also needs to be access to a printer, if you don't have one hopefully there is a reprographics place near by or a Post Office that offers such a service, or a sympathetic parent....Uniforms may no longer be tailor made but if the unit is in a low income area it may not seem fair to reclaim for your uniform or to apply for a grant then spend it on that. There also isn't the same level of second hand uniform for leaders (partly because of an era where it didn't wash well and partly as we don't tend to outgrow it the same as girls).


What do you all think?
 

badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#2
My own answer is: I’m not sure!

Lots of the things I mentioned as potential barriers have a little bit of a work around. There are grants for units, BSS groups online to find cheap uniform or just asking around the county. If you have limited internet or computer access you could always see about partnering with another unit who have leaders willing to be administrators or recruiting someone from the community. But these still require on others being able to help, and take away some of the independence of being able to run a unit.

Other money buying ones are tricker.
 

Squirrel-Nutkin

The Wicked Witch of the West (15,000+ posts)
#4
Leaders, being volunteers, should never be a penny out of pocket.
but we often are? we use our car to purchase items for unit or to do banking so incur petrol and parking, but I for one don't claim that back. We text and phone parents and I do that on my mobile where I have paid for a certain number of minutes/texts, so those contacts I am effectively paying for out of my own pocket. We use items from home and sometimes they can get broken or incur wear and tear, so effectively we don't claim for that. I use home wi-fi but I've paid for that wifi... then there is uniform... [and not least giving just an hour a week... or should that be a day? for we attend trainings etc too which is all giving time/mileage etc]

And the biggest one for me is printing, I charge every other printer cartridges to unit as its such a big cost (but I don't do any home printing now and only print for unit, no personal printing), but I personally purchased the printer so that is a cost to me re wear and tear etc. Printer is a hard one to work out 'costs' and I wish there were some guidance re this like the mileage rate for cars
 
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turnip

Veteran (100+ posts)
#5
I don’t drive and couldn’t afford to run a car even if I could drive. That does make certain things more difficult. Attending trainings is harder and more time consuming by public transport, I struggle to transport equipment, I tend to order things online and have to pay for delivery as it’s not practical to get to the shop on public transport and then carry everything home.

I’m very lucky to work with wonderful and generous leaders who offer to give me lifts. But if i was on my own or if none of us drove or had spouses who drove, there would be more limits on what we could offer the girls. There’s been plenty of times where one of them turns up with a bootful of stuff for a meeting. We have flexibility to have meetings further away from the hall. They take each a carload if stuff on pack holiday or camp.
 

Burghilly

Veteran (100+ posts)
#6
I very often find myself paying for items out of my own money the claiming back at the end of term.

Our bank account does not have a debit card and all cheques need two signatures. It also has no online banking facility so me paying up front is the easiest way to do it.

Sometimes this can be as much as £150 but I'm in a fortunate enough position to be able to afford to 'lend ' this money to the unit for a few months before claim it back. Not everyone would be able to afford to do this I realise .
 

ker-stee

SGP Enthusiast
GuiderPlus
#7
I very often find myself paying for items out of my own money the claiming back at the end of term.

Our bank account does not have a debit card and all cheques need two signatures. It also has no online banking facility so me paying up front is the easiest way to do it.

Sometimes this can be as much as £150 but I'm in a fortunate enough position to be able to afford to 'lend ' this money to the unit for a few months before claim it back. Not everyone would be able to afford to do this I realise .
Me too. And Guiding recommends not having more money than you know you'll need in the term - but there are so many unknowns.

Last time I claimed my expenses, it was over £400 (Over the course of a term I think) and I know currently Brownies owes me about £100 (I'm just waiting for tonight as I need to get some cheques countersigned!) but it's so easy for things to add up- especially when buying online. I don't live near a Hobbycraft for example (Nor have the time currently), but wanted little treasure chests for our Pirate evening - so they had to come out of my bank account....

Thankfully, our depots are really lenient with payment times, especially over the summer period with cheque issues, otherwise i'd be another £300 owed.

I never think of things like texts and calls and wifi use costing me, mostly because we're paying for those for personal use too!
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#8
but we often are? we use our car to purchase items for unit or to do banking so incur petrol and parking, but I for one don't claim that back. We text and phone parents and I do that on my mobile where I have paid for a certain number of minutes/texts, so those contacts I am effectively paying for out of my own pocket. We use items from home and sometimes they can get broken or incur wear and tear, so effectively we don't claim for that. I use home wi-fi but I've paid for that wifi... then there is uniform... [and not least giving just an hour a week... or should that be a day? for we attend trainings etc too which is all giving time/mileage etc]

And the biggest one for me is printing, I charge every other printer cartridges to unit as its such a big cost (but I don't do any home printing now and only print for unit, no personal printing), but I personally purchased the printer so that is a cost to me re wear and tear etc. Printer is a hard one to work out 'costs' and I wish there were some guidance re this like the mileage rate for cars
That's why I said should. We should all be claiming for all of the unit's running expenses, automatically - mileage/fares, parking, postages and phone calls/broadband, printing costs/stationery, uniform - for meetings, for trainings, for outings, for residential events. We are meant to, we are expected to, and many do. Even if they then choose to donate some of it back.

So, what are the implications if we don't? There can be several.

First one is the implications for other members of the Leadership team. If several of the Leaders decline petrol money, or dismiss being refunded for the cooking activity shopping 'because it's trifling', it makes it difficult for other Leaders to accept the petrol money, to hand in the receipt for the shopping with a hope to be paid back what is due in cash that night.

Next comes the unit accounts - they ought to record the true cost of running the unit and it's programme - if too many expenses are not recorded, or are not claimed, then the accounts cease to be an accurate record.

Linked to that, there is succession. You may be able to donate a batch of printing here, a recce visit for the outing there, charging the adults a full fee for the camp, etc. These might be comparatively trifling sums, more bother to calculate than you consider worthwhile. But one day, someday, you will hand your unit over to someone else. And they may be in a different financial position to you. If your unit were to be taken over by someone of very limited means who could not make such financial contributions to the units, would they be able to keep the unit running on the current subs level, or would they have to introduce a significant subs raise immediately they took over?

I cannot make people claim the expenses they should. But I wish I could.
 

turnip

Veteran (100+ posts)
#9
I’m sure I read somewhere that even if people don’t want to be reimbursed for expenses they can record them as donations and claim gift aid? Since it’s money we should claim back as expenses but don’t so effectively we’re donating that money?
 

Burghilly

Veteran (100+ posts)
#10
So I suppose this neatly comes back to the question. Can you only be a Leader if you can afford it?

On the other hand , for many people Guiding is their hobby. If you have a non guiding hobby most people are prepared to pay to take part in their chosen hobby , so should we happily absorb the cost of some printing here and some cooking ingredients there and shrug them off as 'hobby costs.'?
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#11
I’m sure I read somewhere that even if people don’t want to be reimbursed for expenses they can record them as donations and claim gift aid? Since it’s money we should claim back as expenses but don’t so effectively we’re donating that money?
Yes, if you choose to make a financial donation to the unit, and you are a taxpayer, then the unit can claim gift aid on a donation from you just as it can on a donation from anyone else.
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#12
So I suppose this neatly comes back to the question. Can you only be a Leader if you can afford it?

On the other hand , for many people Guiding is their hobby. If you have a non guiding hobby most people are prepared to pay to take part in their chosen hobby , so should we happily absorb the cost of some printing here and some cooking ingredients there and shrug them off as 'hobby costs.'?
No, we should not. Because other hobbies are personal interests, they are not charities which have to be accountable for their income and their expenditure. Being a Leader should in financial terms be open to all, and it is made clear in all the rules and all the guidance that it should be so. The only barriers which exist are those created when the guidance and advice is overlooked or ignored.
 

Kochanski

Veteran (100+ posts)
#13
In a perfect example of do what I say not what I do, I tell my assistants they must claim everything back and will chase them for receipts so I can reimburse them. When I am getting a good salary, I don't necessarily claim everything I spend. I count it as my hobby / a donation to the pack. But last year, I didn't get much work and had to claim more. If I don't, my team might not.
 

Fox

Brownie-induced madness
#14
Our District recently decided that subs would be the same across units and any anomalies should be announced.
Prior to this, we'd had very cheap rent and had been able to keep subs low for years. In fact, other units had overtaken us. But this decision coincided with our rent going up. So now we look like the expensive option.
I often have younger or less well off leaders who need expenses back before the end of term. I, personally, can afford petrol to trainings and to pay out the cost of resources in advance but they can't.
So I have to be very firm about costs and making sure leaders aren't out of pocket for more than a short period. I give them advances if they need.
I did vote Yes but slightly by accident - there are units in my area that run very expensive trips that many of my girls could not afford - that was what I was thinking of, not the leaders.