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Girlguiding Bermuda ‘elated’ to keep UK affiliation

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Liz Burnley, centre, the former the Chief Guide of Girlguiding UK, visited Bermuda to help mark the 100th anniversary of Girlguiding (File photograph)

Girlguiding Bermuda has said it is “elated” over a decision enabling it to maintain ties with Girlguiding UK.

It came after an announcement last year that the United Kingdom would axe British Girlguiding Overseas sparked a lobbying campaign.

On March 27, it was announced that the overseas organisations will now be integrated into the structure of Girlguiding UK’s North West England region and governed by senior volunteers and staff there.

Girlguiding in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Saint Helena and Ascension Islands, and the Turks & Caicos Islands will also be integrated.

It was further announced that the Overseas Territories would be left responsible for new costs under the structure.

The transition is expected to be completed by September 1.

Roslyn Simmons, Girlguiding Bermuda’s commissioner, said that keeping ties with Britain would make things easier for the local organisation.

She told The Royal Gazette: “We are elated.

“After all this consultation, they accepted the North West England region will be able to take care of us. We are considered British and that is why we fought to stay affiliated.

“I knew in my heart we would be able to continue some way. We have a time capsule at Government House we would like to open in 2044. We have a membership of at least 90-odd girls aged from 4 to 18.

“Somehow we would have made it work but this makes it much easier as we can continue with the same uniform, the same badges, the same programmes.

“Had they cut ties, we would have to do our own programmes, we would only have had limited access to what they enabled us to have, we would have been limited to going to international camps. Now we can stay together with our sister guides.“

Girlguiding UK said that a dedicated resource funded by the British Overseas Territories has been agreed.

It added: “Over the past year, we have been working with senior volunteers in the nine Overseas Territories on a way forward for Girlguiding activities to continue.

“As a result, we have agreed that Girlguiding North West England’s board of trustees and management structure will provide support to, and oversight and assurance of, guiding organisations in British Overseas Territories, as with their other areas of responsibility.

“A dedicated resource within the Girlguiding North West England region, funded by the British Overseas Territories, has also been agreed.”

Ms Simmons added: “They have set up a new structure and there are finances involved.

“We used to just pay for membership before but they have created a new structure which involves some finances, and it’s a lot of finances.

“Every little organisation has its own expenses but the major expenses were not shared by us previously. Now with this, we have to pay a portion into the cost if we want to stay involved.

“We are finding a way to make it happen. We are definitely going to try to do some fundraising to help keep the costs down so we don’t use all of our money.”

British MPs signed an early-day motion last year after Girlguiding UK announced that it would cut ties with the Overseas Territories.

Calling on Girlguiding UK to reconsider its decision, the motion stated: “This House expresses its concern and disappointment in Girlguiding UK’s withdrawal of support in the British Overseas Territories and on military bases, and the closure and sale of all their outdoor activity centres in the UK; notes this will have a detrimental impact on young women and communities within each Overseas Territory and military community; further notes that the Crown Dependencies are already part of Girlguiding regions in the UK (North West and South West), representing a disparity between the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies; also notes that these places are an important part of the British family; and calls on Girlguiding UK to reconsider its decision.”

The BGO closed on September 1, 2023, along with units in the Middle East and Africa, Asia, Benelux and France and Europe but the new structure was agreed upon for the territories.

• For more information, visit the Girlguiding Bermuda Facebook page or call 292-0675

Girlguiding Bermuda has a membership of at least 90 girls aged from 4 to 18 (File photograph)

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Published April 03, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 03, 2024 at 7:42 am)

Girlguiding Bermuda ‘elated’ to keep UK affiliation

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