Read all about it – Jane steps in to help save Brownie group

Health and safety co-ordinator Jane Horan is collecting newspapers from colleagues at Lanes Group plc – not to read, but for her Brownies to turn into high fashion.

Jane is one of many Lanes employees who are community volunteers, carrying out unpaid work for the benefit of others up and down the country.

In Jane’s case, if she had not agreed to become a trainee leader for the 20th Seedfield Brownie Unit in Bury, Greater Manchester, it may have had to close.

Now, though, with Jane’s help and the support of another trainee leader, and the long-serving group leader, the unit of 24 girls, aged seven to 10, is thriving.

One of their next activities will be to make clothes out of newspaper and put on a fashion show – in part, thanks to donations of newspapers from Jane’s Lanes colleagues.

Jane is Lanes Group’s Health and Safety Co-ordinator, and is based in Eccles, Greater Manchester.

She says: “My daughter was in the 20th Seedfield Brownies, and is now a Girl Guide.  I was a Brownie too, so I appreciated all the benefits young girls get from being involved in the movement.

“When I heard that there was a concern the unit could close because it didn’t have enough leaders, I thought, why not? I can help. All I’d do otherwise in the evening would be watch TV, or do the ironing!”

Jane is 12 months into an 18-month training programme to become a Brownie unit leader. The process is thorough, covering topics such as child safeguarding, activity planning, and team working.

The training is informed by Five Essentials: working together in small groups; encouraging self-government and decision making; a balanced and varied programme which is girl-led; caring for the individual; and sharing a commitment to a common standard.

Jane says: “The training and support given to Brownie leaders is a lot more substantial than it ever used to be, but that’s a very good thing, as we have the lives and interests of a large group of girls to consider at all times.

“Being a Brownie leader is not much different to my health and safety work at Lanes. It involves working closely with others, encouraging commitment, risk management, and a lot of careful planning and organisation. It’s just the age range is a little younger!”

Jane says she loves being able to contribute, and working young children is very rewarding, adding: “As leaders, we’re trying to think of new and exciting things for the girls to do every week, but we don’t tell them until the evening we meet.

“When they all run up to me all excited and say, what are we doing tonight, what are we doing tonight, it’s a great feeling to know we are making it meaningful for them and they’re going to enjoy themselves. It certainly makes the effort well worth it.”

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