How does our parliament work? What are the rules of debate? And how would we govern an imaginary island? These were some of the questions which Rainbows, Brownies and Guides throughout Cumbria have been exploring during “UK Parliament week” recently.

In Dalton, 39 girls and their leaders from the 3rd Dalton St Mary’s Rainbows and Brownies practised debating and making democratic decisions. The Brownies recreated the layout of the House of Commons and investigated the different roles of MPs including the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and backbenchers.  Unit leader Sarah Beale was “pleasantly surprised with how much the Brownies knew about our political system and how keen they were to learn more”.

In Broughton, 19 members of Broughton Rainbows, Brownies and Guides looked at British democracy through a variety of games. The Brownies and Guides were invited to “Rule Your Own Island” and decided what would be most important to them on an imaginary desert island. The Guides opted to hold a debate on the relative merits of being vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eaters.  12-year-old Ellie Kirkham thought that points raised in the discussion encouraged her to “think about how animals are slaughtered and how we can stop unnecessary killing”. After an animated debate which their unit leader Samantha Addington described as “lively and very interesting” the outcome of the Guides’ vote was a draw. Both vegetarians and meat-eaters clearly marshalled equally compelling arguments, showing democracy in action.

Broughton unit leader Kim Pyle was very enthusiastic about the activity:  “The Rainbows and Brownies showed a huge amount of curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about how Parliament works. We played an energetic game of ‘true or false’ where we learnt some great facts about MPs and Parliament, and challenged some perceptions as well as running around a lot! The Guides had a very mature debate about vegetarianism, veganism, and eating meat – there were some really insightful contributions and everyone had their say, with issues ranging from ethical concerns, the livelihood of farming communities, to the prospect of scientists making artificial meat”.