N Ireland Business Awards 2017

8 SME NEWS / Northern Ireland Business Awards 2017 , The Girls’ Brigade NI Ltd (GBNI) supports girls aged 3- 18 years, providing a bespoke youth and children’s ministry programme for churches andmissions inNorthern Ireland. We spoke to Gail Ferguson to find out more about the vital work this dynamic organisation undertakes. Girls’ Brigade NI Supported by 284 GB Companies, totalling almost 22,500 members, Girls’ Brigade NI the largest uniformed organisation in the province. GB companies meet in churches/missions once a week from September to April/ May and offer a wide and varied programme of Bible study, craft, sport and other challenges in community and church service, designed to inspire and challenge girls to discover faith, make lifelong friends and uncover new gifts and talents. Gail explains the organisation’s history, ongoing mission and how its varied programme of events and lessons supports its achievement. “The Girls’ Brigade is a worldwide organisation based in over 50 countries. Each country runs independently under its own Constitution; however our identity, ethos and aim is the same. The Girls’ Brigade is celebrating 125 years in 2018, with the first company being established in Sandymount, Dublin in 1893. It wasn’t until 1940 when it was introduced to Northern Ireland as a division of Girls’ Brigade Ireland. It was in 1991 when we separated and became Girls’ Brigade Northern Ireland. Across the province many churches have seen the added benefits to having a GB company associated to their church, as it has helped in the growth of their membership and for sharing their vision to teach children about God. “Our vision is that GBNI will be recognised as a dynamic, relevant, Christ-centred organisation effectively reaching out to all girls to value, nurture and equip them for life. This is achieved by the commitment and dedication of our volunteers who through accurate training and the development of resources deliver an appropriate programme that engages girls and young women on a weekly basis. “As such, we offer a varied programme that helps support the needs of each individual member promoting a safe environment where girls feel accepted for being themselves and learn skills that are achievable. All ages groups are given the opportunity to achieve goals and growth in each of the four aspects of our programme, Spiritual, Physical, Educational and Service. There is a wide range of topics covered under each of these elements allowing our volunteers to adapt each topic to suit each member and their capabilities. There are many clubs and groups, but the majority of them cater for one particular skill set like dance or football. In GB, a girl could be learning to sew one week and the next week she could be learning to give CPR.” Despite its legacy of excellence spanning over 125 years, GBNI remains dedicated to evolving and adapting to meet the ever changing needs of those it works with. As such, Gail is keen to emphasise how the organisation is adapting its programme to adjust to developments in the lives of the girls it supports. “With the increase in Mental Health issues and children on the ASD spectrum, we are noticing an increase demand from our volunteers to learn more on how to best to assist our members that require additional support. We recently ran a Mental Health Conference to raise awareness of some key challenges and to offer practical help for leaders when identifying potential issues. To support our children living with ASD, we have developed a Visual Aids Booklet which has been distributed to each of our GB companies to use as a tool to assist leaders improve communication and understanding with the children they work with. The booklet also has a mix of 6 languages to aid children with a language barrier. In June 2018, we will be running a “Supporting Disability and Autism in GB” workshop to give further support to our leaders to help them recognise the challenges a girl with a disability faces daily.” Looking to the future, GBNI has many exciting plans to build upon its current achievements, as Gail proudly concludes. NIR17018 “Ultimately, at GBNI we are always looking to grow our organisation and we have recently opened one new company with a further two in the pipe-line. We have a long-time goal to help build and sustain a school in Uganda to help children who have no opportunity of an education. We have recently committed to a project in Kisoro, Uganda in partnership with Fields of Life and the building work has begun on the school. We are currently encouraging our companies to support this project by carrying out fundraising events and later mission trips will be planned so that young people can go out and help in future developments of the site. “To help support our membership, we annually develop a Scripture Course that is kept relevant and interesting for the age groups that we work alongside. We have just completed the development of an under 5s Resource booklet and our 11+ year olds programme called the PSALT Files. We now have plans over the next year to develop our 8-10 year olds Junior Programme. Always improving and always moving forward to remain relevant is our ongoing focus.”

http://www.gbni.co.uk/ http://www.groundkontrol.uk/