• Welcome Guest to the new look forum. For more information refer to this thread

Weekly Discussion: Sorry babe can't do tonight now xx

badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#1
We all have lives outside of Guiding, and ultimately our well being and lives outside of Guiding will trump our volunteering. Life happens, we can't predict sick relatives, transport breaking down, or last min problems at school or work. But some people are "flakier" than others. You might have seen social commentary that some believe that the rise of mobiles and other instant communication has made it easier and more socially acceptable to make very last minute cancellations. I've definitely noticed a difference in other volunteers cancelling at the last moment, either to help at a meeting or contribute to an event, and it being frequent occurrence rather than a one off.

We tend to have the element of keeping commitments and "promises" engrained in Guiding right from being in Rainbows. That is to say that if you are going to do something you do your up most to fulfil what was offered. Because Guiding is voluntary it can be hard and sometimes inappropriate to have a "crack down" approach to volunteer absences- but they can have a real impact on how well a unit runs.

How can we broach the subject of being let down by another volunteer because of frequent absences without seeming ungrateful, being unrealistic or driving them away?
 

badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#2
Personally:

Approach should obviously be adjusted for the situation but broadly:

A Guide helper, YL, DofE helper or younger UH/LiT/Leader

Go in with the approach that they might have something else going on, and offer a small "out" regardless of if you know otherwise. A message or call to say you know that they are in a really busy stage of their lives, you understand it can be tough- do they need to take a break from helping for a while?? Even if you've seen your AL in the pub near the hall but got a text saying that she can't make it because she's swamped with collage work and staying late to see her tutor or know that your YL now does sport on that night because your child is part of the same team. The lack of curtsey might be a little annoying but as we all know it can be really hard to say you can't do something anymore, especially if its because Guiding is no longer a priority. This might be their first encounter with a "formal" arrangement and they don't "get" that you can't just stop turning up. Guide helpers and YLs should have their adult contact included incase they think that they had been at meetings with you. You might need to be prepared to stand firm if its still expected for you to sign off an award that says they've been volunteering with you.....there's a reason why its often hours and not months listed.

"Supporting" Adult:

If its just flaky attendance that doesn't impact too much on the unit running you may have to be prepared to just write it off. Most people I know who are in "supporting" roles like O/UH have chosen this role because they were upfront about that they couldn't or simply don't want to be central to the running of the unit. Its unfair to then turn around to them and suggest that they aren't pulling their weight. If it is that they have let you down several times because they were vital to a meeting to go ahead, do they know that they were? Are they aware of things like ratios or that they left you stuck when they were supposed to be running the main activity then didn't show? A gentle conversation when there aren't girls present or an email conversation if you are worried about it being recorded.

I won't post about "key" adults because I haven't had much experience of a fellow leader not showing or cancelling. I will say though, if you are the unit leader, please at least consult or tell your other qualified leaders if you are going to cancel a meeting last min rather than them finding out with parents.
 

Fox

Brownie-induced madness
#3
We've had a key adult (AL, responsible for one section) just not turn up, and also turn up but expect the other leaders to be running her section in addition to their own (oh what have you got planned for us tonight - er nothing as that's not our section, it's yours?).
Two of the occasions involved telling us (though we are fairly sure it wasn't true) and not actually bothering to tell us, just posting on SM, that she had a migraine. So on the final occasion we were left to tell parents that actually we didn't know where she was, as she hadn't told us she wasn't coming. We were just lucky we'd invited families that day as otherwise we'd have been way under ratios for an outdoor event.
One of those she was, in fact, doing something with her boyfriend 20 miles away who had tagged her on FB.
This was obviously serious and a safeguarding concern so we raised it with the DC who went through various possibilities - we knew why it was happening and it wasn't, as the DC surmised, that she thought she was surplus to requirements/not being given enough of a role, it was due to issues in her personal life that meant she didn't think Guiding really was as important as it had been. I am afraid I lost all my patience and grace and was not willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she didn't think it would matter if she didn't turn up/didn't tell us/lied.

She was asked to leave and we had to ask quite a few girls to leave too owing to not having enough leaders for them.
We were also left to tell parents who thought she was fabulous and assumed that she'd organised the meetings she missed/didn't do anything for, properly, and were very sad that she'd left and their girls didn't have a space.

I am pretty sure though that she is now leading another unit elsewhere.
 

fenris

fenris
GuiderPlus
#4
As an aside, I'd loathe being referred to as an infant, and kissed.

We do face the problem of competing expectations. The expectations parents have of an educational class run in a semi-professional way, the expectations experienced leaders have of dependability, and the expectations of those who see it as 'just a hobby' and can't see what the fuss is over an occasional late call-off. The root of it all is communication.
 

ker-stee

SGP Enthusiast
GuiderPlus
#5
So, I feel that because I am a more experienced leader and have a lot of Guiding contacts in my area that I will deal with situations like this different to others who may not have the same level of experience/contacts!

On Sunday/Monday I had 5 leaders tell me they couldn't make it (School Meeting, Daughters Poorly, Couldn't make it to Brownies at all any more, moving house etc)- all things which couldn't be avoided... It was annoying, some things I could have been told about before, but we're volunteers and life happens.... but at least they let me know and didn't just not show.

I was able to ring around and change my programme to something more appropriate for the number of adults, but other less experienced leaders may have struggled with what to do.
 

badgemad4

Veteran (100+ posts)
#6
As an aside, I'd loathe being referred to as an infant, and kissed.

We do face the problem of competing expectations. The expectations parents have of an educational class run in a semi-professional way, the expectations experienced leaders have of dependability, and the expectations of those who see it as 'just a hobby' and can't see what the fuss is over an occasional late call-off. The root of it all is communication.
I think that’s something that’s key, different perceptions on how important it is to be present or to let others know that you’re going to be late or not there. One thing that grates me is when there is a very casual approach to putting other volunteers out “because it’s voluntary” forgetting common curtsy and politeness!
 

Quack

Veteran (100+ posts)
Staff member
GuiderPlus
Moderator
#7
I don't think it's just Guiding, I think society as a whole puts a lessor emphasis on honour and keeping your word. so giving back word on a commitment is more acceptable because you are able to do so via text, email etc.

Think back to the days that you had to speak to your boss to call in sick...you made sure you were properly sick before you rang in.
I think it is a matter of educating people that they really do need to give x days notice and having a back up plan as Ker-stee says so if plan A can't happen you have Plan B