We should all know that major programme changes are coming to Guiding in the UK, to be finally announced and launched in a few weeks' time. Because the information has been communicated to Leaders in a range of places and ways. It has had wide coverage in each of the last few issues of Guiding Magazine (which is sent by post to all adult members free of charge quarterly). There have been regular articles on the website as front-page splashes. E-newsletters have been issued to all who subscribe to them, each containing many references and links, and often with the coming programme changes as the lead story. There has been coverage in various forms of social media such as Facebook and twitter, on both the official and the unofficial forums, national and local. There have been several questionnaires and surveys issued from headquarters by various means in order to collect opinions from Leaders. Many Counties have included updates in their regular newsletters (on paper or online), and some have organised trainings. Taster packs of activities have been issued to every unit, in all sections, for them to try. Units were invited to apply to test activities and feedback on them. Information on how it will actually work as a structure and for the unit week to week, and what the specific details will be for the individual unit - may be scant - but by any reasonable measure, and regardless of your opinion on the content of the information issued, every Leader should be aware that significant change is coming, for all sections, and starting from Autumn 2018.
But – are they aware?
It seems that, despite the vast amount of time, effort and expense to date on communications - there are still some Leaders out there who have a vague awareness that change is coming, but no idea of what or what scale. And, more amazingly still, there are also some Leaders who claim not to have heard of any coming change whatsoever. These are often the Leaders who will freely admit they never open the wrapper of the magazine which is sent to them (or who haven’t kept their contact details up to date in order to receive their copy), who don’t subscribe to any of the e-newsletters, who delete Guiding emails unread and do not check the national website, who don’t attend District meetings or read the minutes from them, and don’t read the County newsletter or website.
One might suggest that those who try so hard to remain uninformed – could be judged to have ‘voted with their feet’ and might have their clearly-expressed wish to be left in the dark respected? How much effort should Guiding bother to put into trying to issue information scattergun by umpteen means in the hope that a little of it might reach the attention of these hard-to-hit targets? Or should Guiding simply focus on using a few means, electronic and non-electronic, which between them are sufficient to reach all those who want to hear. The rest can sink or swim when the changes come, as they so choose?
The problem with that is - that for every Leader who does not receive the information, it means a whole unit of girls, and their families, do not receive it either. For the Leaders are not at the end of the communication chain, they are one of the key links in it. If they have not grasped that change is coming (far less what the change incorporates and means for them and for their units) they will not be informing their units that it is coming, nor preparing the unit’s programme towards it by preparing to tie up the loose ends and letting the girls and families know that they might want to finish off any challenges they are currently tackling, and any badge work which has been started. And the unit members could be left high and dry too, with challenges or major awards part-way through (or almost completed) the deadline for completion past and the badges for them no longer available. Meantime the new programme could be well under way and most of the trainings on it long since over. It may be that the first they know of a change may be when they can no longer get the badges for the old programme, and not a minute before.
So, in terms of those Leaders who claim full ignorance that anything is happening and who have proved unreachable so far - what more can (or should) Headquarters do to reach them? If anything?