Manchester City Council

Now Brownies have a new badge of honour – with special Manchester Medal to help older people to beat loneliness

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.”



How  Super Gran-of-16   and former Brownie and Girl Guide Veronica,  is helping youngsters with the Our Manchester  Brownies Badge

If anyone should know the benefits of being a Brownie it’s Veronica Armstrong – who was not only a Brownie, but a Girl Guide and then a Girl Guide leader herself  and is also a retired nursery nurse.

And, now the 67-year-old Gran –who has 16 grandkids and has lived in Northenden for 46 years –  will be and honorary guide again as she helps the youngsters involved in the Brownies and Rainbows challenge to get to know their elders better.

In fact, Veronica has already started in her role as she recently went to watch the youngsters as they acted in their new play - which the kids also hope to perform in the new year for the residents in the sheltered housing court where Veronica and husband Warren live.

The play , Eddie the penguin saves the world’ is about a penguin who goes on his travels and meets other types of animals on his journey. While it’s a child’s production – the universal messages about getting to know the those outside of your immediate circle are clear.

“It’s a lovely play,” says Veronica. “And it’s like the theory behind this new badge for the Brownies – it’s about getting a better understanding of your own kind and how they live.”

Reflecting on her own Brownie and Girl Guide credentials, she said: “In my day the Brownie badges still had the same aims about being a good person – but they were a lot less intense. Today’s badges give the girls a lot more, wide experiences so that they get to know more about the world.”

And Veronica is also clear on the role that she and her generation can play in the badge.

“Me and my age-group have the time to spend with children and we can give them a different view on life. We also have skills we can show them like sewing, learning to knit and doing gardening.

“Plus, a lot of my friends miss their families because they don’t live near their own children and grand-kids – and they would really like to have that ongoing involvement with children’s projects.

“Bringing age groups together like this counters a lot of the bad news  - because it shows the true spirit of Christmas - and it spreads a message that can be shared all over Manchester.”

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