You may have seen the building work start on our new Girlguiding Centre in Ramalley Lane, Chandler’s Ford. We are really excited to see this project start, it has been many years in the planning and we have a team of volunteers in the background working hard to make our vision a reality.
There has been a Girlguiding building on that site in Ramalley Lane since the land was first leased to us by the Council in 1976. At that time the existing members worked hard to fundraise and erect a building that was suitable for the activities it would hold. Unfortunately, as time progressed the building did not age well. It became apparent over the last few years that something would need to be done. In 2014 the previous building was demolished – it had been deemed unsafe and not fit for repair, much to the sadness of those that had helped create it.
What happened next?
Girlguiding prides itself on listening to the voices of it’s young members and including them in the decision making process at every level. So, the Division team set out to ask the young members what they thought should happen. A range of options were proposed and many discussions took place. In the end there was one clear decision that we heard time and time again – our members wanted to see a building that they could call their own, in the location they were familiar with.
What better way to demonstrate to young people that their voices matter than to do our best to press ahead with the decision that they had made. Obviously we needed to talk to the Council about their ideas and plans, and careful financial consideration needed to be made. This was done and a replacement building was decided on. Our aim was to create an eco-friendly building, that could meet the needs of our young members now and for future generations.
Why did they feel so strongly about a new Centre for Girlguiding in Chandler’s Ford?
Girlguiding in Chandler’s Ford is thriving. We have over 600 young members and 150 adult volunteers meeting every week. We also have long waiting lists!
Without our own dedicated Girlguiding Centre to host the majority of these meetings on a weekly basis not everybody who wants to join us is able to. We need a space that we can make available five nights a week, for the Rainbows in the early evening, followed by Brownies and then Guides. Our Senior Section girls were also keen to have a space they could call their own. With the best will in the world there just isn’t the capacity in the remaining halls around the area to accommodate all these groups at the time/day they would like them!
In addition our young members would like a space they can call their own, where their artwork can be up on the walls, where their notice boards can show others their achievements. They would like somewhere for their leaders to store their equipment without cluttering up garages and dining rooms.
The idea of many groups working on the same project over a week on different nights is also very appealing. To have a dedicated, safe, outdoor space, for either growing plants or lighting fires to cook on not too far from home is seen as something different and special that can happen at the new Girlguiding Centre. This will also provide a legacy for the generations coming behind them.
For many girls, their first overnight experience with Rainbows or Brownies can also be their first overnight experience away from home. What better way to do this than in a purpose built building, that you are familiar with? Overnight experiences with Girlguiding are one of the highlights of a young members time with us and we want to make this opportunity happen for as many of them as possible. All our strict regulations about staying away with girls can be met from our new building.
Where are we now?
If you are a parent of one of our young members, or one of our adult volunteers you will know that we are fundraising, fundraising and fundraising some more.
To date we have raised over £165,000 of the £270,000. This is a huge amount and has come from many sources, from sunflower growing, performances, walking miles for sponsorship and many donations from local and national businesses.
We now have enough money that we have been able to start work. In March 2015 the first trenches were dug and last week the steel frame of our new building went up. By late summer we hope to have a fully watertight building, although sadly this will not include windows – an extra £18,000 is needed for those!
Over the next 12 months, we hope to be able to afford those windows, and work with local businesses to help us fit out the inside – at the moment there is no money towards this. We are, as always, working very hard to see this building become a reality, the fundraising and sponsored events will be worth every hour and every penny raised helps.