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Girlguding sign

Guides and Guide leaders have been expressing disappointment, sadness and surprise following the announcement of a new partnership between Girlguiding UK and the British army.

The news has triggered strong criticisms on social media, while the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has heard from several current and former Guides and Guide leaders who want their organisation to ditch the partnership. Some have said they will end their association with Girlguiding if it continues.

The news comes only months after Girlguiding UK announced major changes, with a renewed focus on issues of human rights, equality and peace.

The Peace Pledge Union, a longstanding pacifist campaigning group, described the army partnership as a "backwards step" for Girlguiding UK.

They have backed a petition started by former Guide Pippa Gardner, calling on Girlguiding UK to scrap the deal with the army.

Despite claims that the partnership is not about recruitment, it has emerged that the army deployed information stands to at least one Girlguiding event over the August bank holiday weekend.

Girlguiding UK is now in a bizarre position: they will not allow Guides to play Laser Quest, as it involves shooting fake weapons at human targets, but Guides can be encouraged to join the army, where they will be trained to fire real wepaons at real people.

"This is a strange shift in direction for Girlguiding UK, which had come a long way to building a peaceful and progressive organisation,” said Dr Hilary Cornish, a former Guide and Guide leader and an elected member of the Peace Pledge Union's national Council.

She added, “I was a Guide and Guide leader for about 15 years, and I've kept my hoodie, because I assumed that some day I'd go back. Now I'm not sure.

"Guides for me was about building international friendships and a real commitment to peace. I used to love discussing with the girls why as an organisation we don't shoot at human targets, so don't even take part in games like Laser Quest. Working with the armed forces doesn't reflect the
Guiding I love.”

The PPU's opposition to the Guides' army partnership is shared by other peace and human rights organisations, including Forces Watch and the Fellowship of Reconciliation