October 31, 2018
Trustee's Organisation Name
Irish Girl Guides
Outline the vision and the mission of the chosen nominee's organisation
Irish Girl Guides (IGG) is a youth-driven, dynamic organisation offering a varied and exciting programme for girls and young women aged 5-30. As a girl-only movement, girls are free to develop and express themselves in a safe, comfortable and supported setting. IGG has approximately 12,000 youth and adult members in Ireland and as an organisation, we have a strong emphasis on the outdoors, environment, community responsibility and global sisterhood.
Having been set up over 100 years ago we are always striving to remain current and relevant for the youth of today. IGG is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a global movement of over 10 million girls and women in 150 countries throughout the world. Our mission is to enable girls and young women to develop to their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world. We strongly believe that girls need time in a girl-only setting with a programme facilitated by women who act as role models and encourage them to challenge themselves and follow their dreams.
Describe the nominee's involvement with the organisation
Helen is currently Chief Commissioner of IGG which is the lead volunteer role in the organisation. Helen has held this role for 5 and a half years and her term will come to an end in April 2019. As part of her role as Chief Commissioner, Helen chairs the Board of IGG.
Some key issues that IGG is facing and Helen’s role in tackling these issues have been:
• Ensuring the organisation is modern and relevant to girls and young women – Helen identified the need for IGG’s website to be updated and led a team of volunteer leaders and staff to do a review of the old website. Helen and key volunteers with a company called Juvo designed the new website. IGG and Juvo won an Eir Spider award for the new website.
• Ensuring adherence to excellent standards of governance – Helen was the driving force behind the organisation's full compliance with the Governance Code. IGG achieved compliance with this code and continues to monitor compliance on an annual basis. Governance is a standing item on the agenda of all board meetings. Helen believes in the necessity for transparency and upholding the highest standards for volunteers.
• Reviewing and updating all our Leader resource books - She believes that it is essential to support our Leaders and oversaw the redesign of these publications to ensure that all of the information essential for being a competent and effective Leader in IGG were available. This included our Safety Guidelines, Safeguarding and Child Protection Guidelines, Leadership manual- Leading The Way, Online Guide Manager Handbook and our Programme resources.
• As with all organisations in the voluntary sector funding is always a concern. We receive funding from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on an annual basis but we are constantly looking at ways to be innovative and ensure that our Leaders and girls receive the best experiences and funding to support that experience. Helen has played a pivotal role in sourcing funding for new programmes for our girls and Leaders –
What special qualities and skills does the nominee bring to their role as trustee?
Helen brings her passion for IGG and what it offers - providing opportunities for girls and young women to develop to their fullest potential. She works diligently to support the work of the organisation and the volunteers and girls who are members of IGG. She is driven by a clear vision of where IGG needs to move in the 21st century and is always striving for greatness.
Under Helen’s leadership, IGG has developed a partnership with DCU to provide Lego Robotics workshops for our members. This initiative has provided countless opportunities for IGG members to engage in activities related to STEM. Over 500 of our members have had the opportunity to participate over the past three years and we are delighted that we now have two teams entering the Lego League exhibition in early 2019.
Helen was also a key person involved in the development of our #Future CEO Cookie Project which was launched 2017. The initiative aims to Create Entrepreneur Opportunities for girls while at the same time giving units the opportunity to raise funds for their weekly activities. IGG partnered with Alison Cowzer of TV’s “Dragon’s Den” and co-founder of East Coast Bakehouse Drogheda for this initiative. Our members sell packets of Irish made cookies to develop their money management and business skills. Last year, IGG members sold 30,000 packets of cookies in their local communities during the month of November.
Helen is an excellent listener. She considers what is best for the organisation by listening to both girls and volunteers throughout the organisation. She has supported the organisation through a staff restructuring – aiming to move IGG to where it needs to go to best support our mission when our former CEO reached retirement. This restructuring has included identifying the necessity to move our National Office, a project which is still ongoing and before the end of her term she will have been a key volunteer to acquire a mortgage for us to purchase a new building which will soon beG
How has the nominee's involvement had a positive impact on the organisation and the people it serves? Give a specific example of their impact on the organisation
IGG is a registered charity, and as such must comply with the Charities Act. We recognise the importance of maintaining the highest standards of good governance in the interest of all and want to take every step possible to ensure the highest level of transparency and accountability.
The Charity Regulator is currently in the process of introducing updated financial reporting regulations for charities with different branches or sub-groups. These will include details for organisations such as the Irish Girl Guides to consolidate all our accounts. This will affect our 570 local Units across every county in the country. All of our Leaders who run these Units are volunteers, so submitting accounts nationally will be an additional administrative burden for them. We wanted to make it as simple and streamlined as possible for all involved in this change
Helen was instrumental in delivering a two-pronged approach to bringing our volunteer leaders on a journey towards good governance and financial transparency. This was achieved by providing both the rationale for the change in our procedures via Regional Roadshows and the tools to implement it via an Accounts Package. She has organised 17 roadshows around the country to meet with volunteers, explain the necessity of this extra burden, listen to where the Leaders need extra support and has now set about putting a number of further supports in place to ensure that Leaders are not overburdened by their new responsibilities.
OGM (Online Guide Manager) is a unit database and record system that was developed for each Unit. This will overtime reduce the paperwork necessary for Leaders to complete. It enables all Units to keep their administration to a minimum and also supports the Leader in their weekly planning and recording. This system was overseen by Helen and a number of key volunteers and it was Helen’s vision that it would be a system to support the Leaders on the ground while also enabling National Office to.
How is the nominee's organisation transparent and accountable?
Irish Girl Guides prides itself on ensuring good governance and best practice throughout the organisation.
• IGG is compliant with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Sector in Ireland and the organisation’s compliance declaration is available on our website.
• IGG complies with the Children First Act 2015 and a copy of our Child Safeguarding Statement is available on our website.
• IGG was one of the first youth work organisations to take part in the National Quality Standards Framework for Youth Work (NQSF) when it was introduced. The NQSF enables us to review and assess our work on a cyclical basis and to have it externally assessed, thereby assisting the continuous development of services to our members.
• IGG is a health promoting organisation and has been recognised by the National Youth Council of Ireland with a Gold Standard Quality Health Mark since 2003 being the first national volunteer-led youth organisation to achieve this standard. Health promotion is an integral part of our programme and way of work.
• IGG is a signatory of the “Dochas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages” and strives to ensure that “choices of images and messages will be made based on the paramount principles of: respect for the dignity of the people concerned; belief in the equality of all people; and acceptance of the need to promote fairness, solidarity and justice”.
• IGG has adopted the “Leave No Trace” message as their standard guideline for all outdoor activities.
• IGG has produced yearly reports called the Annual Review which outlines highlights of the Guiding year as well as reports from the Branches, seven regions and various committees of IGG. It also reports a summary of finances of the organisation. Since 2017, two documents have been produced: The Annual Report and Financial Statements and a summary document called the IGG Overview highlighting key activities of the organisation in the corresponding year with a governance and finance overview. All of these reports are available in the “Good Governance” section of the IGG website.