Report from our County Commissioner

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"Girlguiding is renowned for being flexible and dynamic and this has been evident over the last few months."

As I write this – the last Annual Report of my term as Girlguiding Glasgow Commissioner – I have a lot on which to reflect. Not only our past year and the adventure I’ve had over the last five years, but also the last 100 years of Girlguiding Glasgow, as 2020 marks a century since our County was officially established.

The year 2020 started with great plans for celebration events for all sections and volunteers. Venues had been booked and programmes created and our County’s special centenary badge Give, Grow, Go was launched on World Thinking Day 2020 for all our members to come together and mark this very special milestone.

Things changed dramatically for us all in March 2020 when the United Kingdom was placed in a full lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we were asked to stay at home to keep safe and help protect the NHS. Unfortunately, very quickly it became apparent that our County’s celebrations would need to be stalled until a later date when it is safer for us all to come together again.

Girlguiding is renowned for being flexible and dynamic and this has been evident over the last few months as volunteers have quickly retrained and adapted to delivering the Girlguiding programme via alternative ways. Units are now meeting  remotely via Zoom and are learning to work together in new ways. By doing so, this has helped many of our girls and young women still feel connected and engaged when so many things have changed in their day to day lives. Many units have hosted virtual sleepovers and used our Give, Grow, Go at-home version to continue to celebrate our special year.

At the start of 2020, we launched our new four Division Structure after a year-long consultation process with all levels of the County. The transition to our new Division Structure has ensured we are operating most efficiently and effectively and making the best use of our volunteers and resources. It has involved a lot of people and teamwork to ensure the transition was as smooth as possible and I am very grateful to all the volunteers who have stepped up to take on leadership roles within their Districts and Divisions.
They have been vital in providing support to local units during the last few months as we have been keeping Girlguiding going through Covid-19.

Another big change for our County this year has been the sale of our Girlguiding Glasgow Headquarters in Elmbank Street. As a County, we have had many happy years based in the city centre and the building has served us exceptionally well. We were all very grateful to have had an afternoon tea hosted by Girlguiding Glasgow President, Morag Liddell in February, where members across the County shared memories and stories of times gone by. Never for one moment when I started as County Commissioner did I imagine I would be overseeing the dissolution of Elmbank Street and whilst it has been a very difficult task to undertake, I am even more confident in light of Covid-19 that we have made the right decision and we will have sufficient financial security to navigate through the current challenges that 2020 is providing.

Having spent time reflecting on Girlguiding Glasgow’s history whilst preparing for our centenary celebrations, I have been inspired by the role our County and our members have had in events and moments in the history of Girlguiding and within Glasgow. Whilst our County’s timeline stretches further back to 1908 when the Cuckoo Patrol was formed and our first three units were registered in 1912, this year we are celebrating The County of the City of Glasgow constitution being implemented and four Divisions officially being formed. The similarities to our new Division structure of reverting to four Divisions is somewhat uncanny.


"You are valued
volunteers, and
needed now more
than ever ..."


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I have often wondered if I was having a cup of tea with the County Commissioner in 1920, Lady Stirling Maxwell, what would we be discussing and would the challenges we face in Girlguiding be broadly similar? I believe the answer would be ‘yes’ as the Spanish Flu virus was affecting every continent around the globe in 1920 remarkably similar to the pandemic, we find ourselves in today. One hundred years forward and we are overcoming the very same thing. However, what I am sure Lady Stirling Maxwell would share with me would be the hope and belief that things will get better and that Girlguiding will flourish across the city and continue to welcome all girls and young women to join our worldwide movement and have amazing adventures. Our organisation has adapted through the decades to be relevant to our young people and 2020 has allowed us to reflect and have gratitude for the women who went before us and have laid such strong foundations for our County.

Fast forward to today and I have been astounded at the commitment and dedication of Girlguiding Glasgow volunteers. The year 2020 has tested us all and what I have taken away most from this year is the sound support network being a member of Girlguiding can provide in the most testing of times. At the heart of our County is our purpose to support the development and resilience of girls and young women and this year we have all been required to rely on that resilience to get us through these difficult times. Girlguiding Glasgow is defined by teamwork and I have been reassured by how members have supported each other and I know will continue to do so as we emerge from the pandemic and start rebuilding Girlguiding Glasgow when a state of normality resumes.

It has been my greatest privilege to serve as Girlguiding Glasgow’s County Commissioner over the last five years. I would like to take this final opportunity to express my thanks to my fellow trustees, the Girlguiding Glasgow Executive team, who have diligently carried out their roles ensuring our County operates most effectively and efficiently. I have asked a lot of the team this year, more so than any other, and I would like to thank you for your unwavering support. It is an immense responsibility holding such roles, however, the team has collaborated and remained focused on our County’s purpose and undertaken these roles with great integrity.   

I am prouder than ever to belong to Girlguiding Glasgow and be part of a County that is determined to support and connect with girls and young women even in the most difficult of times. Girlguiding in 2020 has fundamentally changed, however, our movement continuously changes to meet the needs of our members so please continue to stick with #TeamGlasgow. You are valued volunteers and needed now more than ever by the members in your unit, the volunteers in your unit, District, Division and County. 

It has been the greatest honour to lead #TeamGlasgow. I will look back on my time as the greatest adventure and I will be forever grateful for the fun, laughter and friendship I have shared with you all.  I know you will continue to give our new County Commissioner the support and commitment which you have shown me, and I wish the new team every success in driving Girlguiding Glasgow forward.

Go well and safely.

Jill Elborn
County Commissioner