Any aspiring Brownie will tell you that part of her Promise is to think of others before herself and do a good turn every day.
But, now, that Promise has a brand new focus in Manchester for one group of Brownies who are part of a trial, not only to make the city healthier - but to learn what it means to be a modern Manchester Miss.
A group of youngsters in Wythenshawe and Northenden are part of new badge that will include challenges and exercises around some of biggest community priorities in the city around health, fighting loneliness, and being part of a city that values older people.
The move comes after the city introduced its vision for health and social care for the next five years – called a locality plan – which recognises the crucial role that everyone who lives here can play in making the city healthier. One of the key themes is around prevention – making sure that people stay active and involved in the areas where they live, to help prevent illness and the crippling mental and physical effects of loneliness.
It also follows a consultation where people who live and work here were asked to define priorities for the city – to create the ‘Our Manchester’, we aspire to be over the next ten years. Within this, Mancunians ranked health and social care highly as well as looking after vulnerable people.
Now, the 2nd Northenden (St Wilfrid's) Brownies and the 1st Northenden Rainbows will be working on a badge linked to Manchester's NHS Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the Age-Friendly team at Manchester City Council, and have been issued the challenge of:
- Organising events for older people, which can be maintained in the community – for example reciprocal story bags, where youngsters and older people put memorable items, or souvenirs, into a bag as prompts to talk with each other about their lives and experiences.
- Learning about the health system – this includes learning how to use services, such as when to use the local chemist, how to get same-day, evening or weekend appointments with a doctor and when to go to A&E.
- Learning about the effects of loneliness – and why community-minded people are the key to a modern, thriving Manchester.
In recognition of the girls’ work they will not only get their Brownies’ badge, but a specially designed Manchester Medal, and a reference from the council’s leader Sir Richard Leese and Ian Williamson from Manchester's clinical commissioning groups, to help with prospective school, college or job applications.
Ian Williamson, speaking on behalf of the Manchester CCGs, said: “We know that loneliness can be devastating in both its physical and psychological effects for older people. There is much evidence to show how it contributes to lowering the immune system and making people more prone to illness as well as a major impact on wellbeing. If youngsters are mindful of this it means they can lead by example and raise awareness of an issue that we an all help to solve.
“And, if youngsters learn how to use the health system properly and effectively, that too will filter through communities so that we make the very best use of the help that’s available.”
Councillor Paul Andrews, Executive Member for adults health and wellbeing at Manchester City Council, said: “This award really is a badge of honour for the youngsters taking part.
“People who live here told us that protecting the vulnerable was of major importance and now our youngsters are part of that solution, which will also bring many intergenerational links, respect and a better understanding of the different ages – and stages - that make up Manchester.”
The badge is now being trialled in South Manchester – but it is likely that other units across the wider Greater Manchester area will also take the challenge.
Pamela Plummer, Guider in charge – or Brown Owl –for the girls involved in the new Manchester badge said: “The whole ethos behind our movement is about giving girls opportunities, and help with doing their best so that they become confident women who fulfil their own potential –as well as the communities where they live.”