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Tales of Covid – Girl Guides Lewisham

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Marie Hobson runs a Girl Guide group in Lee, Lewisham. She looks back on the difficult times of 2020 with a thoughtful appreciation of both the impact on her and the girls in her group.

To her, the pandemic was the equivalent of the impact of World War Two on London Guide leaders: it was a crisis that required them to demonstrate the value of their promise “to serve Queen and community”. Marie has about twenty five girls in her group with ages from 10 to 18. She could see immediately the mental health impact on them of being told to stay at home, not go to school or visit friends.

She soon set about moving the group onto a Zoom weekly meeting, but found that only a small proportion of the girls wanted to join. It soon became clear that many girls, spending their whole day in front of a computer screen for their home schooling, were quickly suffering from digital exhaustion.

Going the extra mile

So, Marie drove around for hours dropping off activity packs she had prepared at the houses of all her girls, so they could still participate in Girlguiding but do it offline. As soon as restrictions allowed, she set up socially distanced meetings for the girls in the car park of St Mildred’s Church, giving them tasks and projects which made the most of the outdoor setting, such as constructing, decorating and planting flower boxes along the South Circular for local residents to enjoy.

As she tells it now, she hadn’t realised until this point just how important Girlguiding was for her own mental health as well as that of the girls in her group — looking back, she can see that she put enormous pressure on herself in those early months to provide continued support for her girls.

Marie wanted every girl in her group to have access to Girlguiding activities regardless of their circumstances. She doesn’t regret it, however, and sees that the survival and continued health of her group — at a time when a number of London Girlguiding groups closed down — became a contributing factor to the sense of cohesion of their local community in Lewisham.

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Thank you for reading. Check out the full Tales of Covid report for more stories.

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