Girlguiding to sell its activity centres despite protests

14 Aug 2023 News

Glenbrook activity centre


Despite tens of thousands of signatures asking for the charity to reconsider, Girlguiding UK has confirmed it will be going ahead with the closure of its five activity centres. 

The charity will also put an end to its 100-year-old British Girlguiding Overseas operations. 

Its activity centres in Blackland Farm, Foxlease, Glenbrook, Waddow Hall and Ynysgain will remain open until 31 December 2023. 

Since Girlguiding’s plan to sell the centres was announced in May, two petitions asking for the charity to reconsider the decision and protest the closures have garnered over 57,000 signatures collectively. 

97 roles will be affected by the decision to sell the activity centres, with 35 being permanent staff and 62 contract staff. 

A Girlguiding spokesperson told Civil Society: “The statutory consultation with affected staff has now ended and we are taking forward proposals suggested to mitigate the impact of staff redundancies.” 

Girlguiding: ‘A difficult decision we wish we did not have to make’

Funds from the sale of the activity centres will be put into an investment fund to support Girlguiding activities, according to the charity.

Girlguiding said: “Throughout the past few weeks, the dedication to and love for the activity centres from everyone has been clear. We understand and value the lasting and happy memories that have been made over so many years at the centres. We know they have an important place in Girlguiding’s history. 

“This is a difficult decision that we wish we did not have to make. But it has been made because we have limited resources, we need to focus on our core purpose of supporting girls and volunteers, and we need to make sure Girlguiding is sustainable for the future.”

Girlguiding said the activity centres “have been running at an overall loss” and been used by less than 10% of its membership each year for a decade.

Save Our Centres: ‘Very disappointed’

The Save Our Centres campaign group previously suggested the charity sell its London HQ instead of the activity centres.

In its statement, the campaign group said it is committed to helping members come to terms with this change and support activity centres in setting themselves up as charities. 

“The Save Our Centres campaign group is very disappointed that the trustees of Girlguiding have not altered their original decision to close all five training and activity centres, despite receiving thousands of messages of protest from members, both girls and volunteers.”

Campaigners at Foxlease on Clay Hill, one of the five activity centres, have applied for charity status in a bid to continue its work and save it from closure. 

Save Our Centres’ statement reads: “Since 18 May we have been dismayed at the difficulties that individual members have experienced in getting their voices heard regarding the closures of both British Guiding Overseas and the training and activity centres to Girlguiding.

“We are keenly aware that these decisions have resulted in some discord and conflict between Girlguiding and its members (both the volunteer leaders who provide almost all of our organisation’s services and the girls who are participating in our programme).

“Save Our Centres will seek to work collaboratively with Girlguiding to heal these rifts, so jointly we can work together to fulfil our charitable aims by empowering girls to find their voice and proving that when girls speak, Girlguiding listens and acts.

“Save Our Centres has previously requested a review of the governance of Girlguiding. We are keen to engage positively with Girlguiding to address the issues that have been exposed by recent decisions of the trustees.

“Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the centre staff who have helped bring adventure and fun to tens of thousands of Girlguiding members.”

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