Help save Burnham Guides from closing

A Girl Guide unit in Burnham is on the brink of closure due to lack of leaders.

Burnham 2nd Guides is currently run by a busy junior doctor Jenny Akerman, who is struggling to manage the unit on her own.

Recent pressures placed on doctors due to the pandemic have made the planning and management of the Thursday night sessions difficult.

Although Dr Akerman enjoys her volunteer work, she is looking for volunteers to lessen the strain.

The unit is part of the Burnham and Taplow Girlguiding district that was established in 1917. It provides adventures and fun challenges for 22 people on a weekly basis.

“It’s a brilliant group of girls and it’s amazing being able to make an impact during ‘the guiding years’ as they become young women,” said the 26-year-old, who has been in girlguiding for 20 years.

Dr Akerman graduated in 2017, completing her postgraduate training at Thames Hospice and on the COVID-19 ICU ward at Wexham Park Hospital and now as a GP in Maidenhead.

She said: “Due to the pandemic there’s definitely been more of a strain placed on medical staff. We’ve been working longer hours and we have been really overstretched.”

“I find guiding is a real break. After a tough day you come to Guides and (even on Zoom) the girls put a smile on my face.

“But I’ve been on my own since before the pandemic when another leader left due to personal reasons.

“It’s been quite tiring and it’s getting to a point where as much as I love to do it, it’s too much. I need some help.”

Jenny is ideally looking for two adult volunteers. Tasks include helping the girls work towards their badges and accompanying them on outings and activities such as raft making, abseiling and kayaking.

She said: “I am grateful for parent helpers and am looking for someone who is a little bit more involved – to bring ideas and to help with planning.

“Other leaders have been brilliant – but they can’t help me forever as they have their own units to run.”

A national call-out for more volunteers was recently issued by Girlguiding, which has seen a 20 per cent increase in membership since 2021.

Angela Salt OBE, CEO Girlguiding, said: “It’s fantastic to see our offer acknowledged through the significant amount of girls wanting to join, but we urgently need more adult volunteers to ensure that as many girls as possible have access to both the support and opportunities Girlguiding provides to build confidence and resilience, learn new skills and have lots of fun and adventures with friends.”

Being a leader doesn’t require any qualifications or badges – and you don’t have to be a former Guide or Brownie.

The necessary DBS and safeguarding training will be offered and there are no costs involved.

Email to volunteer.

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