Girl Guides from Salford have told how their work with the youth organisation has helped them overcome the challenges of lockdown.
The young women spoke out after a report from Girlguiding UK showed many girls have felt lonelier during the third lockdown.
Charlotte Lloyd, 16, and Annie Lloyd, 12, from Walkden, found it difficult to adjust to online classes in January. Meanwhile 58% of girls surveyed said that working from home is more challenging.
“It’s a lot harder when you can’t talk to a teacher in person. It’s also quite frustrating as people say secondary school is where you make your best memories and I’ve missed two years of it,” Annie said.
For Charlotte, who is training as a Guides leader and hopes to become a teacher, the pandemic meant that her GCSE exams were cancelled.
“I find it very stressful because now I’ve been thrown into a-levels, when the last exams I ever did were my SATS,” she said.
66 percent of girls aged 11 to 18 said the latest lockdown had negatively affected their mental health, according to Girlguiding’s report.
With less people to talk to face-to-face and their close family an hour and a half away, the sisters said they have felt lonely.
But being part of Guides and Rangers has helped them to have a sense of normality, despite it being online.
“Not being able to go and see family and friends has been hard but going to Guides means there’s more people to talk to. I’m excited to be together in person again,” said Annie.
“Girlguiding feels like a break from everything else that’s been going on. It gives me structure to my week knowing that on Monday and Tuesday I’ve got Guides and Rangers,” said Charlotte.
The Girlguiding community has also been a support network for Aisha Baker, 22, a Salford Girlguiding volunteer.
Last year, she moved to America and set up her own Girl Scout Troop in Minnesota.
When Aisha returned to Salford in August, Girlguiding helped her to settle back home.
“It’s that family thing for me. You find that group of people and they have the same mindset and values, wherever you go. I found it growing up in Durham, in Salford when I moved for university and even in America,” she said.
Now she’s helping to restart a Rainbows unit in Altrincham, which stopped running in March.
Aisha is proud that Girlguiding has been able to offer respite for young girls during lockdown.
“This pandemic has impacted everyone, but it’s heart-breaking to hear our girls say how lonely they feel. We’re there for each girl in a space that’s just for them to develop their confidence.”
The full Girlguiding UK report is available here.
Top photo: Charlotte Lloyd (left) and Annie Lloyd (right).